The evils of shopping investigated

sheep in the alps

Barter - I geev you thees sheep for the iPod. Unlikely.

Judging by some of the conversations on expat ‘gosh aren’t I clever for living in France’ websites I could get the impression that I live in the only part of the country which has actually discovered retail. I’m not sure what everyone else out there is doing – trading chickens and cheese for wool which they then turn into humble homespun garments, presumably. That sort of palaver is probably very authentic and I’ve no doubt it nets you bags of Sunday supplement lifestyle points, but personally I really can’t be bothered, so I usually just go to shops.

Not that I enter such temples of Mammon very often, mind you, never really having got to grips with the idea that shopping is some kind of leisure activity rather than just a way of acquiring stuff you need. If you want to wander round a place looking at the objects contained therein and saying ‘ooh look at that’, wouldn’t a museum be a better bet? The building itself is likely to be more impressive, the objects are probably genuinely interesting and with any luck there should be a nice garden with ducks.

Chateau de Vizille

Better than shopping. No, really.

Seriously, the Chatêau de Vizille is going to make for a much more enjoyable Saturday afternoon than Carrefour. And they’re both a better bet than sitting at home surfing the web looking for UK retailers willing to charge you an arm and a leg to send you stuff which was probably made in China anyway.

Brits with a France habit used to spend weeks after they came back from their Dordogne gîtes droning on at anyone willing to listen about how marvellous French supermarkets were and how you could buy absolutely everything in them. As if most of these people didn’t already have pretty much absolutely everything anyway. They’ve stopped doing it recently, I’ve noticed, possibly because the only shop in the UK these days is Tesco, so obviously you can now get everything there, if only because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to get it at all.


Tesco, the only place to shop. Literally.

It’s an odd phenomenon, though, that people who have finally sacked Blighty off altogether and gone to live in that Dordogne gîte suddenly cease to rave about France and take to moaning about all the things they can’t buy, swapping lists of overpriced English grocery stores and importing industrial quantities of curry sauce. You can make curry, you know – Indians do it all the time. Mind you, it’s true that buying women’s clothes can be a bit of a project if you aren’t stick thin with as much bosom as Twiggy. I might have had a problem myself if it wasn’t for the fact that my sartorial development never got past the hoody-and-jeans with boots stage.

For me though, the main problem with shopping in France is the same one I have with shopping everywhere else. It requires me to go into shops. Shops, what’s more, in either an urban environment or one of those futuristic indoor places with 50 football pitches worth of multi storey car park, three branches of McDonalds and that piped music which makes you want to kill someone after you’ve been there for five minutes. I don’t know why I bother in the first place, because I never get the time to buy anything before I have to go home and lie down in a darkened room.

In fact, if it weren’t for the internet I’d probably be walking around all year in board boots and ski gear, since you don’t have to go near any sort of metropolis for those. As it is I manage to look more or less appropriate for most of the time mainly courtesy of eBay. Not through lack of choice, you understand, but because I am a pikey with skewed spending priorities and an expensive books-and-ski-gear habit.

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About misplacedperson

Camping and snowboarding for a living. It may not be a career, but it's certainly a life.
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10 Responses to The evils of shopping investigated

  1. Oh God, I hope it wasn’t my happiness at Tim Tams in Carrefour Annecy that prompted this blog entry! You can’t tell me you don’t use PG Tips teabags though. I don’t even drink tea, but I have PGT for my Brit friends who seem to think it’s “the dog’s bollocks” (or some other very British saying that makes no sense as a positive image).

  2. I absolutely deny that scandalous PG Tips allegation. Finest loose-leaf for me thank you, hold the milk. I’ll put my hand up to the importation of Marmite though.

  3. statusviatoris says:

    You make me laugh…. a lot. Could it be possible that we were separated at birth? Because you have just eerily captured my thoughts and written them (in far more eloquent a manner) in this post.

  4. Newminster says:


    I can categorically state, aver, and confirm that you and misplacedperson were not separated at birth. Believe me, I would know! I will agree that she has the knack of expressing the views of the average cynic somewhat more eloquently than most, something of which I have tried (with limited success) to convince her over the years. At last she has found her true vocation. That she doesn’t get paid for it seems an inevitable part of the pattern!

    PS Fear not. Marmite is on the list!

  5. Apparently it is possible to make money by blogging, but only if you write really boring stuff full of marketing garbage, judging by the pro blogs I’ve seen. I fear it would sap my will to live.

  6. statusviatoris says:

    I think that poverty is an unfortunate side effect of being a nomadic free spirit (if my life is anything to go by, anyway!). Regarding the blogging, I simply don’t know. In the States there are a lot of ‘Mommy Blogs’ that turn quite impressive profits, as well as other sites like which are just pure humour. Either way, as I understand it, you would need to be seeing upwards of 500 hits on your blog per day in order to tempt advertisers. The difficulty I am having is finding ways to increase my readership of ‘normal’ people ie not other bloggers who just want to try and latch onto my already established readership. I read your blog because it makes me laugh, but I haven’t got the energy to ‘network’ with people whose work I don’t appreciate, just in order to pinch their readers. Hmmm. Keep plugging away, though. Your writing is wonderfully fluid and very funny, and you never know who might stumble onto the page and see your potential.

  7. Ah, you speak on behalf of many.

    T’was only a few days ago that I was dragged, and I mean dragged, to an awful American-esque shopping ‘mall’ called ‘Westfield’ in London.

    I ventured into the Abercrombie and Fitch shop, after moodily lurking outside for a good half an hour. I was instantly greeted by a size 4, white toothed, bronzed, Mediterranean goddess ‘door host’ who sing-songed a “hey! Welcome! Nice to meet you”.

    I died a little inside.

  8. baresytapas says:

    I have visited this blog by accident, but I found it quite interesting. You’re doing a good job (and most importantly it’s free). A greeting.

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