The snow is gone, but boy is it cold out there! If it weren't for the holidays fast approaching, I suspect most people would be huddled indoors warming their hands around a glass of vin chaud, but instead the streets are pulsing with people and the stores, emblazoned with sale signs, are full. It's a rare brave patron though who sits in an unenclosed cafe terrace.
Most people are bundled up tight and moving fast between destinations.
The sale situation here is interesting. By law, stores in France are forbidden to put their regular stock on sale at any time other than the authorized periods in January and July. Exceptions exist, primarily for going out of business sales or sales in anticipation of store remodeling. It seems to me that half the stores in Paris have decided to do some remodeling this winter; they all seem to have huge signs advertising 30%, 50%, 70% off. I suspect the remodeling consists of little more than a new carpet or shelving installed to meet the letter of the law, and I suspect the authorities are turning a collective blind eye in the face of what's known here as la crise.
It appears to be working. People in the street are nearly all carrying shopping bags. The buses and metro trains are jammed to Tokyo-like limits. Gene says he hesitated at the door of an already sardine-can-packed metro car the other day and found himself pushed on by someone behind him. When he looked to see who it had been, he saw a Japanese woman. Apparently she takes that kind of thing in stride.