Last Sunday it was actually sunny (sadly, this is becoming more rare as winter sets in. And it doesn't help that the sun doesn't rise until about 8:30am and sets around, oh, 5pm.). So we decided to walk down to the Champs-Elysees to check out the new Marks & Spencer. This, of course, is a British department store (ish?) that was once in France, left, and has now returned. We wandered in the front door and saw a mass of people huddled in front of us. All around were women's clothes. We were confused - were they waiting for a dressing room? Was this a whole confused tourist bus?
But as we drew closer we realized that the crowd had gathered to wait for the opening of the food section, which apparently opens somewhat later than the clothing parts. It was a classic French line, in which people were cutting and there was even some early jostling. Once they opened the gates, however, it was like watching Black Friday meets Supermarket Sweep (remember that TV show where you run up and down the aisles grabbing all the food?). Old women literally shoving their way in, and other old women yelling at the poor shlub whose job it was to only let so many people in.
We've been in France for five months now, so we knew enough to use our stroller to push our way to the front. Yeah, that's right. And then - and this must be one of those human nature things - we joined in the fray. Everything was exciting and British and not French! We should try it! And so we bought things like English muffins (yum) and mincemeat pies (which have no meat in them) and terrible sandwiches (why, in Paris, would we buy pre-packaged British-style sandwiches?) and gummy candies and some Indian chickpea dish and chocolate. The last was particularly hilarious, when we later realized that we bought something called "Swiss chocolate" in a British store in France.
But I do want to give a shout-out to the British for the mincemeat pie situation. Delish! It is unclear whether anybody purchases clothing at Marks & Spencer, or just English food. And why is British food so exciting for the French, you ask? Seriously, no idea. Yet as we left the store we saw a huge line of people outside - on the Sunday morning before Christmas, apparently this was the hottest ticket in town. It's clear we have our finger on the pulse of Parisian culture.
Tomorrow night we're going to the ballet, which I should be more excited about. But as all of our English-speaking babysitters have gone home for the holidays, we are hiring our first French (as in, doesn't really speak English) babysitter. I'm sure it will be fine, especially as I am forcing Mr. Oil to come home early from work in order to explain to the sitter how to put Baby Oil to bed. I'm also a bit distracted because we are leaving in just a few days for a week in Portugal, which we are very much looking forward to. So let me just now take a moment to say - happy holidays! Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday Mr. Oil, and Happy New Year! Let the latke-eating commence!