In the U.S. these days, products are on sale every day. We have become rather complacent about it. There was a time when sales were limited to holidays and certain times of the year. The products were truly on sale. Stores didn’t bring in low quality items specifically for the sale or mark items up just so they could mark them down. When I shop sales, I always ask myself three things — Is this a quality item? Is this a fair price? Do I love it? I never buy anything simply because it’s on sale.
Sales in France, known as les soldes, are completely regulated. There are only two sale periods — winter sales and summer sales. Winter sales occur between specific dates from January through February. Summer sales occur from mid-June through the beginning of August. Stores are not allowed to bring in special items for sale. They can discount stock from the previous year as well as lines that were over-produced or have been discontinued. In more touristy areas, they are even allowed to stay open on Sundays. Online sales are gaining in popularity with offers such as free shipping. Discounts range from 30% to 50% and sometimes go as high as 70%.
This year, the summer sales span from June 22nd to August 2nd. One of the benefits of traveling to France during the summer is that the sales are in progress for most of our trip. Last summer we took advantage of the soldes to purchase cooler clothes than the ones we had packed as it was a fairly warm summer compared to our previous experience in 2012. Norman discovered some French styles (men’s capri pants) not common in the U.S. We had to practice our French shopping vocabulary and were forced to figure out how to ask things like, “Where can I try this on?” In addition, we had to figure out our sizes something we completely forgot about being different. Thank goodness for those converter apps! Since our phones only worked on wifi, the first day we decided to do some serious shopping, we had to return to our apartment and do some research and then go back to the store the next day.
Up till now, we have attempted to travel with only carry-on luggage but weight has become an issue. First, you have to be able to heft that bag over your head into the increasingly smaller overhead bin — a task that is more and more of a challenge as you get older even with all those weights you lift at the gym. Secondly, the airlines have gotten serious about weighing those bags and you are limited to 26 lbs. The way I pack, I can easily put twice that much in a carry-on bag. So now we are just going to take our chances with some new, slightly larger suitcases that we will check — weight limit 50 lbs. Heck, if they don’t make it to our destination, we can always shop the soldes.