At last I have finished my Christmas shopping! I started way back in November by compiling a list and making a note of suitable options for various family members and friends. This pre-planning did not stop me however, from frantically searching the High Street over the past couple of weeks along with thousands of others plus ordering stuff on-line (providing it was still in stock) and feeling somewhat frazzled at the end of it. Buying on-line or from the shops is not always the fun, happy, carefree experience the glitzy advertisements at this time of the year would have us believe.
It is such a different experience in France. There, the emphasis is on ‘less-is-more’ and quality rather than quantity so not only do the French seem less stressed out by the shopping experience, they do not spend so much per head on gifts at Christmas either - ‘maxing the plastic’ does not seem to feature in their culture. Go down any Boulevard in France at this time of the year and you will see prettily dressed trees standing outside shops adorned with little red ribbons and bows. Their tastefully dressed shop windows, with enough glitz to spell out Christmas is around the corner without being gaudy, entice you in to choose a gift for a loved one with care. Having chosen your selected gift, the shop assistant then proceeds to wrap the gift and tie it up expertly with attractive ribbon and bows. The only concession to marketing can be found by the little sticker on the finished gift, bearing the shop’s name. Et Voilà! Christmas present buying is done.