Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

A Day at One Nation

Monday, September 9th, 2019
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One Nation
One Nation

The Greater Paris Region has several outlet shopping malls within its perimeter.  We reported on our visit to La Vallée Village in August and, today, are writing about our expedition to One Nation, a two-level outlet mall located about 30 km (19 miles) to the west of the French capital.

One Nation offers year-round discounts of 30% off top-brand clothing from last season’s fashions.  During promotional periods the discount can be as great as 70%.  It is important to keep in mind that the discounts are offered on last season’s fashions, not the current season.  (The English-language version of the One Nation website doesn’t make this distinction clear.)

The mall is open Sunday to Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  The outlet offers a round-trip shuttle service from Paris six days a week for 24€.  The departure point is located on the embankment of the Seine River (Port de la Bourdonnais) in front of the Eiffel Tower. 

We were initially interested in taking this shuttle, but we decided to go to the mall on a Monday and learned that the service does not run on that day. So, we did some research and found that there is a train (Line N) from the Montparnasse station in Paris that stops in Villepreux – Les Clayes, a town within walking distance of the mall. 

Villepreux - Les Clayes
Villepreux – Les Clayes

We departed from Montparnasse station at 9:50 a.m. and arrived at Villepreux – Les Clayes at 10:29 a.m.  It was an uneventful journey.  Alighting from the train, we were somewhat perplexed about the route to take to get to the mall.  We learned later that there is a gare routière (bus station) near the train station and that we could have taken either the number 8 or the number 45 bus to get to our destination.  We didn’t have a smart phone, however, so finding the bus station would have been problematic. 

Because it was a beautiful day, we decided to set out for the mall on foot.  With the help and direction of residents of the town whom we met along the way, we arrived at the mall without too much difficulty after about a 20-minute walk.

One Nation Shopping Mall
One Nation Shopping Mall

The mall opens at 11:00 a.m. and we arrived precisely at opening time.  This is the best time to shop, as we observed that many shoppers began arriving at around noon. 

My goal for this shopping excursion was the same as it was for the excursion that we made to La Vallée Village a month earlier:  find short- and long-sleeved shirts that have a breast pocket.  From the mall’s website, I had already identified fourteen shops that might carry the kind of shirts that I wanted.


Our first stop was at a store named Bellerose, and we startled the shopkeeper, who was busy vacuuming when we entered.  When I described to her what I was looking for she initially seemed reluctant to help.  It turned out that her reluctance was because the shirts that I was seeking were stashed in a big box and that she had not yet had time to display them properly.  She quickly changed her mind, though, and soon she was pulling shirts out of the box and showing them to me.  My wife and I immediately saw that these were precisely the types of shirts that I had been looking for:  they were well made, constructed from soft cotton, and many of them came in my size.  Within a few minutes of trying them on, I selected two shirts that appealed to me.

From Bellerose, we followed the list of shops that I had prepared and made several purchases:

  • At Brooks Brothers, a long-sleeve, vertically-striped shirt and a short-sleeve linen shirt
  • At Shilton, a short-sleeve sport shirt
  • At Cyrillus, a pair of loden-green cotton trousers.

We also visited Cotélac, eden-park, Guess, Sandro, Scotch & Soda, Vicomte A, Levi’s, The Shop, Gant, Galeries Lafayette, and Café Coton, but didn’t find any shirts or trousers that suited me.  The shopkeeper at Gant told me that the best time to look for short-sleeve shirts would have been in June.  Galeries Lafayette has a very large selection of men’s clothing.  The shopkeepers there let me browse to my heart’s content.

The salespersons in all the stores that we entered were helpful and friendly.

Locale Trattoria
Locale Trattoria

For lunch, we dined at a delightful Italian restaurant called Locale Trattoria.  I ordered a salad of octopus and smoked salmon and my wife a grilled vegetable salad accompanied by two large portions of burrata.  Both salads were copious, and the waiter graciously placed one of the portions of burrata into a take-out box so the she could carry it home.  For dessert, we enjoyed scoops of Movenpick ice cream served in sundae glasses with thin, crispy, cigar-shaped cookies.

It had been a successful day of shopping and we made our way back to the Villepreux – Les Clayes train station by foot.  We arrived at the Montparnasse station in Paris around 6:00 p.m.

Designer Outlet Shopping – My Paris Experience

Sunday, August 11th, 2019
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Polo Trousers – Figaret Sweater

There are a few designer outlet stores in Paris where fashionable, ready-to-wear clothes are sold, but they are located in various parts of town.  Because we did not want to spend time crossing and re-crossing the city to visit these far-flung shops, my wife and I decided to make an excursion to an outlet mall that lies about 40 km to the east of Paris.  Called La Vallée Village, this mall boasts about 70 boutiques selling ready-to-wear designer brands, such as Hugo Boss, Kenzo, and Calvin Klein.  I thought for sure that I would find some shirts and slacks there at prices within my budget.

Monique at Paris City Vision Pick-up Point

We booked round-trip passage on a shuttle bus that whisks shoppers from central Paris to the mall in about one hour.  Called Paris City Vision, the bus leaves from 2 rue des Pyramides.  Arriving at 9:15 a.m. for a 9:30 a.m. departure time, we saw that there was already a long line of eager shoppers, most of whom seemed to be tourists from foreign lands, waiting to board the bus.  The first bus filled up and we got a front-row seat on the second that pulled up to the curb.  As we boarded, we were given a voucher for our return trip.

The ride to La Vallée Village was uneventful.  I remarked about how quiet the engine of the Mercedes-Benz vehicle was and how comfortable the seats were. 

Stepping off the bus at La Vallée Village, we were grateful to be handed a map of the mall by a young, smartly-dressed woman who worked for the mall’s welcome center.  Examining the map, I saw that it was practically useless because the numbers identifying the shops were printed in non-contrasting ink on a grey background. 

La Vallée Village

As the welcome center is located at one end of the mall, it was a simple matter to follow the walkway set with flat paving stones to explore the shops that lie on either side.  Village-like in appearance, the boutiques are interspersed with an occasional shop for coffee (Starbucks), pastries (Ladurée), and other food services. Food carts are located at strategic spots along the sidewalk for additional gourmet pleasure.

Sidewalk Installation

We found contemporary sculpture and art installations along the sidewalk as well and were intrigued by a small exhibition space located down a side passage where additional pieces of the artists’ work were shown.

My goal was to find short- and long-sleeve shirts equipped with a breast pocket.  Entering the first men’s shop that I came to, I quickly learned how fruitless my quest would be.  Most of the shirts that I found had no pocket at all or the pocket was small, rendering the garment completely useless for my needs.

I quickly re-purposed my mission and began looking for trousers.  Error!  Most of the pants that I found were tapered or otherwise form-fitting.

After considerable browsing in all the men’s stores, I found and purchased two items that pleased me:

A khaki-colored pair of Polo trousers by Ralph Lauren, originally priced at 145€ selling for 99€ and a beautiful dark-grey merino wool sweater by Figaret Paris, originally priced at 165€ selling at 110€.

I saw other items that I would have purchased had they been in the color that I wanted, or, in the case of shirts, been equipped with a breast pocket:

A Timberland windbreaker originally selling for 170€ priced at 110€, a Timberland shirt originally selling for 89€ priced at 60€, and a pair of Ted Baker pants, originally selling for 115€ priced at 75€. 

The best bargain that I spotted was a Dunhill shirt, originally selling for 230€ priced at 65€.

Le Menu Palais Restaurant

My wife and I stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Le Menu Palais where we dined on a three-course meal.  We were comfortably seated in the attractive, spacious dining room and waited on by an attentive staff.  Our only distractions were sparrows that flitted about the room and whooping children whose voices seemed to rise from every point in the restaurant.  Otherwise, I enjoyed my breaded deep-fried fish served with mixed-green salad and my wife enjoyed her osso bucco served with tagliatelle pasta.  The bill for two starters, two main courses, one dessert, two glasses of wine, and one bottle of beer came to 89.80€.

At 3:15 p.m. we walked back to the welcome center to board the bus for the return trip to Paris. 

The day had been quite an experience for me.  I learned that my taste in clothes was horribly out of date and that I couldn’t fit into the new styles anyway.  In each shop we were waited on by a gracious staff of mostly young men and women who didn’t seem to mind helping an old man whose fashion sense was archaic.