Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nice, Day 2, September 6, 2010

No culture, just shopping.

Though sometimes I wish I was a different kind of person – as in the kind of person who prefers museums over designer boutiques – I am not and neither, thankfully, is my husband. Which is why a Monday in France will always, always be better than a Sunday in France if only for the simple reason that Louis Vuitton and Hermès are open.

Today we shopped. Yes, I know we are vacationing on the French Mediterranean and yes, even as I write this from our balcony at night, the temperature is over 80 degrees, but absolutely nothing will deter us from shopping in France. Even if I was far sweatier than I like to be when trying on clothing so beautiful that I actually became short of breath.

Now, to start a perfect day of shopping Nice, ignore the guidebooks (Rick Steeves especially!) that extol the virtues and the scenery of taking your morning café crème on the Promenade Anglais in the sunshine and head straight to Nice’s fabulous centre commercial, Nicetoile, . While there this morning we discovered the elegance and sophistication of mall coffee.

Though I admit we started to get nervous when we ordered our café crèmes and were gravely informed that there was a “crises” resulting in a terrible café crème faux pas. No. Warm. Milk.

We decided to risk it and were shown to a tiny seating area within the store to await our café crèmes. Correction. To await the presentation of our cafes crèmes. Naturally they arrived on silver trays, complete with chocolats, biscuits and more sincere apologies for the lack of warm milk. I swear I have had Starbucks baristas sneeze into my coffee and make less of a fuss.

Just another reason why France is fabulous.

Pumped full of caffeine, we attacked my favourite French department store, Galeries Lafayette (GL), which much to my delight has a location in Nice. Chris and I split up to individually attack the store’s respective homme and femme departments. Today marked my first foray into what I anticipate being the glorious experience of shopping-in-France-in-September. Cashmere, leather, fur! Luminous hosiery and chained handbags! Velvety lipsticks and sumptuous face creams! Even the scaled down GL in Nice made my heart flutter. I felt dizzy with shopping possibilities. It was too much and I, quite literally, had to escape the store for the un-stimulating atmosphere and safety of Place Masséna. I guess after fifteen months of having to buy the same pair of $69.99 black pants from the GAP, I am not quite ready for French fall fashion.

After a bit of sunshine and more café crèmes, we decided to shop the boutiques on Avenue Verdun and do a bit of a warm-up for Paris. As in shake off the not-too-distant memories of Coach outlets and H&M Boxing Day sales and slip back into the quiet elegance that are my French favourites, LV and Hermès.

After a quick browse through LV – I am honestly saving myself for the splendour of LV in Paris! - it was time for Hermès for which I am willing to make a “Paris exception” in order to try and purchase what I believe will be a much coveted carré from their automne-hiver 2010 collection. Quand Soudain. I have been lusting after it since its release last May and purchasing it is one of my specific shopping missions on this trip. Unfortunately, it is sold out in Nice.

Leaving Hermès with no brown-ribboned-orange-box, we passed by a store window where a wool cream blazer caught my eye. I tried to ignore it; my shopping plan is to save my funds for Paris. But Gerard Darel, 6 Avenue Verdun, would not be ignored! Chris pushed a repugnantly sweaty me through their door and made immediate friends with the saleswoman. A saleswoman who I will forever admire for ignoring my shiny face and my cheap, white t-shirt stuck to my back with perspiration.

“Beautiful! Superb Fit!”, she genuinely gushed in flawless English, when I slunk out of the fitting room to be inspected by her and Chris. “And,” she added in a conspiratorial whisper, “It’s an excellent imitation Chanel.”

I stood there in the mirror trying not to make eye contact with myself, squirming and looking for faults with the blazer. There were no faults to be found. From its rich cream colour, to its perfectly frayed edges, to its silk lining and its custom fitting epaulettes, the blazer was perfect. So perfect that its buttons were chocolate brown with raised, gold d-ring horse bits on them. So perfect that it is one of those items that I have always fantasized about having in my wardrobe. You know the kind of item that when you put it on, you feel as though your life could change just by wearing it.

I didn’t buy it.

To save you from the hours of torture I went through after leaving Gerard Darel sans perfect- cream-blazer-that-could-change-my-life, I report that I am now writing this from our balcony, from which I have the perfect peripheral view of a chic, ribboned black and white Gerard Darel bag with contains the tissue-wrapped blazer of my dreams. Chris, in his infinite generosity and superb taste, took me back to the store later and purchased it for me as a gift.

Just another reason why my husband is fabulous.

We ended our day by riding the carousel on Promenade Anglais. It was romantically empty and just the two of us rode the antique horses with their real horse-hair tails, revelling in our perfect day in Nice.


hostess of the humble bungalow said...

My Husband did a similar thing in San Francisco with my first Hermes scarf!
I am happy to hear that you have the blazer...and want to hear more about Paris shops and shopping....what else did you buy?

Erin said...

Dear Hostess:

Don't you love husbands who love Hermes?! I actually just visited their SF store and was very tempted... More to come on the shopping. There is lots more!