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Welcome 2 France Newsletter January 2009
Hello !


* Huge Sales in Paris beginning Mid-January!
* A French Tradition the "Fête des Rois"
* Calendar of Events - January, 2009

Welcome2France is highlighting the Pompe-la-Tour apartment in the 16th Arrondissement, this month.

A beautiful home in Paris is yours complete with a washer/dryer, full-sized oven, large refrigerator with large freezer below (rather rare in most Parisian apartments) and lovely oh-so-French wooden paneled walls.

The apartment is well-lit with natural light from many tall windows, trimmed on the outside in Art Nouveau swirls, a-la-Hector Guimard. The red brick exterior is reminiscent of Place des Vosges, famous as the most beautiful square in all of Paris. It has 2 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms and will sleep four people.

Please note that prices in January, both retail and rental prices, are lower due to the recession. It is a great time to take advantage of this opportunity and enjoy an unforgettable trip to the City of Light.

Renting this home is made even easier with our exclusive "Express Booking" feature.

Enjoy Paris in January - a bit blustery, yet beautiful, and very affordable!

Major sales in France have been regulated by the French government since 1999. "Les Soldes" can only be held twice a year - in mid-June and mid-January. Each sale's period lasts about four weeks. We've been in Paris at least seven times during these sales and you'll see the bright, red "SOLDES" banners in just about every storefront in town. Sale prices are required by law to be a minimum of 30% below normal prices, but we've seen deeper discounts of up to 70% in several instances.

This year's sales period begins on January 10, 2009. Watch for the announcement in Paris for when the "Nuit des Soldes" will be held - during this event selected stores will be open until 10:00 p.m.

You'll see long lines outside the largest department stores on day-one of each sale period because that's when the selection is greatest.

Avoid shopping when children are out of school in the afternoons, which makes the aisles far too crowded to navigate. It is also helpful to know that Parisian schools are not in session on Wednesdays.

If you are lucky enough to be in Paris in January, this is the time to bring an extra suitcase!

VAT refunds can be another great savings but only beneficial if you plan to spend a total of €175 (about $234) in one store on the same day. You must reside outside the European Union and be willing to go through the processing procedure.

All department stores and both airports have VAT offices where you can process the appropriate forms that are needed for the first step. You will need your receipts, the goods and your passport for this leg of the process. The paper you need to acquire is called a 'cheque' or "Bordereau de Vente a l'Exportation". Be sure to get this 'cheque' before you leave the store.

Then, at the airport just before departure you must get your 'cheque' endorsed by Customs when you leave the E.U. for the last time. Take your 'cheques' to the airport VAT office (allow extra time, as there is usually a line) and show your purchases. You aren't supposed to use the merchandise before exporting it home with you, so don't be wearing it. Be sure to have purchases in your carry-on bag, they must not be gift-wrapped and certainly not in your already checked baggage.

Once your documents are endorsed, you will be told to mail them. Keep a copy of everything and put the original in the provided envelope. Find the nearest airport mailbox for the final step.

Be sure to allow enough time to do all this at the airport. At least an hour is minimum. Customs at CDG Aeroport, e.g., won't process your claim unless your flight is posted on the Departure Board in the airport, which is usually about 3 hours before the plane leaves.

Speaking of waits, it can be a very long time before you receive your refund in the US mail. If you don't get it, you must contact the store - not the French Customs. Keep the store's name, address and phone number with you.

One last note: Be sure to indicate that you want your refund to appear as a credit on your credit card, or else you will get a check in €uros that may be hard to cash. And, don't accept cash for your refund at the airport - if you accept it in €uros, you'll lose money on the rate exchange. Another plus for insisting on credit card credit is that you will receive the best exchange rate in doing so.

The VAT refund can amount to a 19.6% rebate. Personally, we've never bothered with the process.

For an even easier method of regaining that Value-Added-Tax instantly, ask the store if they will ship the goods directly to your home and deduct the tax automatically. Some will do this so it never hurts to ask. By the way, the VAT offices in the major stores are staffed with English-speaking who are very helpful folks.

As far as Customs regulations go, you can take home $800 in items per person duty-free. For rules on extraordinary purchases like antiques, check the Customs website (

Items allowable to bring home: 1 liter alcohol (not absinthe, which is illegal in the U.S.) OR 2 bottles of wine (750 ml. each); 1 carton cigarettes and 100 cigars (No Cuban); food in cans or sealed jars.

Items not allowed to bring home: Dried meats, fresh cheeses, fruits or vegetables.

Duty Free shops in Paris proper are always cheaper than out at either airport. There are several of them clustered on the avenues branching out from Avenue de l'Opera in the 9th Arrondissement. It is rare to find a true bargain in them, but you do avoid paying the VAT on purchases. However, the prices have been elevated somewhat.

"Solderies" = Stacks of low-priced designer labels permanently on sale.
"Stocks" = Stores that sell one label and last season's leftovers with 50%-off prices.
"Depots / Vente" = Consignment shops with gently-used designer goods at very low prices.
"Friperies" = Clothing and accessories from 1950's to 1980's.
"Surplus" = Army clothing at very low prices.
"Soldes" = On sale.
"Degriffe" = Designer labels, often from just last year, at deep discounts.
"Brocantes" = Second-hand shops.
"Braderie" or "Fin de Serie" = Clearance.
"Nouveautes" = New arrivals.

Note that bargaining is not only accepted, but expected, at flea markets ("puce marches"), brocantes, and antique stores.

We have noticed that most Parisian stores, certainly the small boutiques, are closed on Sundays. One exception is the Marais, where most shops and restaurants do business on Sunday. Other places we've seen open on Sundays are all the flea markets, the mall stores in the Carrousel du Louvre, those tourist shops along the Rue de Rivoli (under the arches, across from the Louvre), many stores along the Avenue de Champs-Elysees, the antique villages, and even some grocery stores.

I found a great bargain on those long scarves you see worn by most Parisians on Avenue du General-LeClerc (on corner of Rue d'Alesia). I got 4 of them for €10,00! The fellow selling them had simply set up tables near the Alesia Metro and people swarmed him. It was great fun. He wasn't there everyday, but since we lived nearby, I could shop at will when he was.

Prior to that, I'd bought scarves in Chatelet-les-Halles Metro (yes, there are stores underground in the Metro!) for 4 for €25,00. And, on Rue de Rivoli for €12,00 each. Lesson here is that the further away from the center of Paris, the better the prices - just like in most U.S. cities.

If you are interested in French cosmetics, head for any Monoprix and check out the Bourjeois line. It is made by the Chanel factory! Voila! Imagine Chanel quality at K-Mart prices.

My favorite gift items to take home are Carte Noire coffees and any of the lavender soaps. Both are inexpensive when bought in a large grocery store and both travel easily.

How wonderful that January is low-season for tourism and prices are generally lower. The €uro is at $1.34 at the tome of this writing.


For groceries: Ed, Monoprix, Casino, Champion, or Franprix. Ed and Casino are overall the least expensive. Franprix stores are miniature Monoprixs. They are located all over Paris.

For fresh foods: Any, and all, street markets. Some are covered, some are permanent, some are open-air, some are only open on weekends.. ask the locals near your apartment. It is best not to touch the goods unless encouraged to do so, all the much more that merchants will offer free samples in many cases. Count your change. The fresh food marches are great for not only foods, but to feel the rhythm of this fabulous city.

Don't forget to bring your own shopping bags, or buy a great, sturdy one for €0,69 at the store. We love using our Parisian bags here at home.

A kilo is about 2 lbs. Just about everything is offered in 100 gram units (cheese, etc.) which is about 1/4 lb. Weights are written with a comma, not a decimal, so 1.5 kilos looks like 1,5k.

For department stores: The 3 biggies are Printemps, Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon Marche. The first two are on Boulevard Haussmann and the latter is on Rue de Sevres. Hard to pick a favorite. Galeries Lafayette has a free weekly fashion show. Printemps is a bit smaller, but just as historic and elegant. The Bon has a dynamite food store that absolutely is a must-see in Paris. Best place to buy foodie gifts for home.

For wine: We like the Nicolas Wine Shops that are found just about everywhere. The staff, English-speaking, are only too glad to help..they ask what you like in a wine and what price range you are shopping for and will then direct you to the perfect choice.

We like Julia Child's favorite wine, the Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It is virtually impossible to get a bad bottle of wine in France, in my opinion. And, $10.00 will do it. Remember that in France, wine is labeled by location, not by grape.

For frozen foods Having an apartment with a fully-equipped kitchen in Paris allows you to buy those wonderful frozen croissants at Picard and bake them fresh while you are getting ready to attack the city each morning. Look for the spotlessly clean blue-and-white stores in just about every neighborhood. Lovely frozen meals ready to go are also available. I am particularly intrigued with their frozen fresh herbs - unbelievable.

For fun gifts, souvenirs and books: Try the Bouquinistes ("boo-kin-eest") stalls along the Seine. It is French for 'old books', but they sell all sorts of things. Very Bohemian. They've been in business since 1600's.passing the booth lease down from one generation to the next. Galeries Lafayette Department store is now saying they have the largest souvenir department in Paris...on the 4th floor.


     "Boulangerie" = Bakery. Also, often, sells quick foods to go (sandwiches, quiches, onion tarts) that they will microwave for you, if asked. Caution: Don't buy a baguette that has distinct cracks along the sides of the crust. These indicate that the loaf has been frozen and rebaked. Go for fresh only! A baguette is not just a piece of bread, it is a piece of Paris.

     "Chevaline" = a butcher shop specializing in horse meat. Usually has a golden horse's head on front, or a picture of a horse. Frankly, we've never tried foods here.

     "Charcuterie" = butcher shop selling pork meats. They are more like what we call a deli. When buying cold cuts, order by the number of slices and indicate if you want them "fine" (thin). To indicate how much of a terrine, or pate, that you want point out the quantity by where the clerk places the knife.

     "Epicerie" = literally a spice shop, but usually a small grocery store, as well. If you are after spices, try the spice shop on rue Lepic on Montmartre.

     "Poissonneries" = Fish. Be sure to ask if shellfish is pre-cooked, or not. Whole fish will be cleaned and scaled by the fish-monger, for free, if you ask.

     "Fromageries" = Cheese. Also, in some, milk and yogurt are also for sale. If you see the word, "Artcurial", outside, it means that the fromager ages his own cheeses in the shop.

     "Patisserie" = Pastry shop. It is rare to find a good bread baker in a patisserie. Get your bread at the Boulangerie. Pastisseries specialize in pastries.

On the first Sunday after Epiphany in 2009,January 4), Paris celebrates the Kings' Festival by enjoying a very special pastry, the Kings' Cake ("Galette des Rois"). They are available in most patisseries and for about €10,00 the delight will serve 5-6 people.

They are golden and delicious - filled with marzipan almond filling and encircled by a heavy paper golden crown. The person who finds the hidden "la feve" (tiny china figure) in his slice gets to be the royal for the day and you will see men and women all over Paris proudly sporting their paper crowns. The little china charms have become collectibles and some are sold in specialty shops in Paris.

The lovely tradition, some say, may have come from ancient carnival times when the slave who found the prize in the cake got to be 'master' for the day.



Until January 4, 2009
"Ingres" - Exhibit of Drawings and Sketches
Musee de la Vie Romantique
16, rue Chaptal - 9th Arrondissement
€ 3,50 - 7,00

Until January 4, 2009
"La Photographie a Dusseldorf" - Photos of Dusseldorf, Germany
Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
11, avenue du President Wilson - 16th Arrondissement

Until January 5, 2009
"Mantega" - Renaissance Italian court painter
Musee du Louvre
99, rue de Rivoli - 1st Arrondissement
€ 9,50

January 7 - 11
"Grand Marche de l'Art Contemporain" - Bercy Modern Art Fair
Bercy Village
Place des Vins de France - 12th Arrondissement

Until January 11, 2009
"Le Plaisir" - Raoul Dufy
Musee d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris
11, avenue du President Wilson - 16th Arrondissement
Phone 01 53 67 40 00 for prices

Until January 18
"Les Chef-d'Oeuvre de la Collection" - Georges Roualt's Japanese art collection
La Pinacotheque
28, place de la Madeleine - 8th Arrondissement
€7,00 - 9,00

Until January 19, 2009
"Bronzes Francais" - Exhibition of French bronzes from the 16th to 19th century
Musee du Louvre
99, rue du Rivoli - 1st Arrondissement
€6,00 - 9,00

Until January 25, 2009
"Van Dyck" - his European 17th & 18th century portraitures
Musee Jacquemart-Andre
158, boulevard Haussmann - 8th Arrondissement
€7,30 - 10,00

All of January- February 1, 2009
"Le Mystere et l'Eclat" - Pastels from 1850 through 1914
Musee d'Orsay
1, rue Bellechasse - 7th Arrondissement
€5,50 - 9,50

All of January- February 2, 2009
"Picasso et les Maitres" - How he was inspired by the great masters
Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
3, avenue du General Eisenhower - 8th Arrondissement
€8,00 - 12,00

All of January- February 2, 2009
"Picasso/Delacroix" - How Picasso used Delacroix work as his inspiration
Musee du Louvre
99, rue de Rivoli - 1st Arrondissement
€6,00 - 9,00

All of Janaury- February 9, 2009
"Abilgaard at the Louvre" - 18th century Nordic artist
Musee du Louvre
99, rue de Rivoli - 1st Arrondissement

All of January- February 9, 2009
"Jackson Pollock et le Chamanisme" - Exhibition featuring the artist's interest in shamans
La Pinacotheque
28, place de la Madeleine - 8th Arrondissement
€7,00 - 9,00

All of January- February 22, 2009
"From Miro to Warhol, the Berardo Collection" - Cubism, Surrealism, Pop-Art
Musee du Luxembourg
19, rue de Vaugirard - 7th Arrondissement

All of January- March 2, 2009
"Delacroix et La Photographie" - How the artist used the camera
Musee Eugene-Delacroix
6, rue de Furstenberg - 6th Arrondissement
€6,00 - 9,00

All of January- March 15, 2009
"Par Amour Pour Les Poupees" - dolls from the Odin collection
Musee de la Poupee
Impasse Berthaud, near 22, rue Beaubourg - 3rd Arrondissement
€5,00 - 7,00


All of January- February 1, 2009
"Paris au Temps Des Miserables" - Paris as featured in 'Les Miserable'
Musee Carnavalet
23, rue de Sevigne - 3rd Arrondissement
€3,50 - 5,00

All of January- February 1, 2009
"Masques, de Carpeaux a Picasso" - The role of the mask in art
Musee d'Orsay
1, rue Bellechasse - 7th Arrondissement
€5,50 - 8,00

All of January- February 28, 2009:
"L'homme Expose" - A Perspective on the History of Man
Le Musee de l'Homme in Palais de Chaillot
17, place du Trocadero - 16th Arrondissement
€ 5,00 - 8,00; Under 4 = Free

All of January- March 15, 2009
"Honneur et Gloire: Tresors de la Collection Spada" - 15th-21st century decorative arts
Musee National de la Legion d'Honneur
2, rue de la Legion d'Honneur - 7th Arrondissement

All of January- April 30, 2009
"Atmosphere - Le Climat Revele par les Glaces" - Climate changes & the Polar ice caps
Musee des Arts et Metiers
60, rue Reaumur - 3rd Arrondissement
€3,50 - 5,50


January 21 - 26
"Les Enfoires" - in concert
Palais Onmisports de Bercy
8, boulevard de Bercy - 12th Arrondissement
€39,00 - 48,00

January 29
"Chris Brown" - in concert
Palais Onmisports de Bercy
8, boulevard de Bercy - 12th Arrondissement
€45,50 - 56,50


January 31 - February 1
"Trophee de Danse Sportive" - Ballroom Dance Competition
Palais Onmisports de Bercy
8, boulevard de Bercy - 12th Arrondissement
Consult website for prices


Until January 4, 2009
"Les Sapins de Noel des Createurs" - Trees designed by big names in fashion
Ministere de la Culture et de la Communication
182, rue Saint-Honore - 1st Arrondissement

January 9 - 12
"Salon de la Plongee Sous-Marine" - Diving Show
Paris Expo - Hall 5
Porte de Versailles - 15th Arrondissement
€9,00 - 30,00; Under 8: Free

January 10 -11
"Paris Dog Show"
Parc Floral de Paris
Route de la Pyramide in Bois de Vincennes - 12th Arrondissement
€10,00; Under 12: Free

January 10
"Randonnee du Rallye Tour Eiffel" - 13k,14k or 20k hikes around Paris' most famous sights
Begins at Eiffel Tower - 7th Arrondissement

Until January 11, 2009
"Georges Rouault Workshops" - Circus themed for children
La Pinacotheque
28, place de la Madeleine
€7,00 - 9,00

January 15 - 25
"Salon Antiquite Brocante" - Antique fair
Place des Vins de France
Bercy Village - 12th Arrondissement

Until January 18, 2009:
"Big Wheel" - Giant Ferris Wheel
Place de la Concorde
Between the Jardins de Tuileries and the Champs-Elysees - 1st Arrondissement
€ 8,00

January 18 - 22
"Salon International de la Lingerie" - Annual Lingerie Week in Paris
Paris Expo - Pavillon 1
Porte de Versailles - 15th Arrondissement
€20,00 -55,00

January 26
"Chinese New Year" - Parade, fireworks, music, dancing, more
Place d'Italie
13th Arrondissement

January 29 - February 1
"Who's Next 09" - International Fashion Show
Porte de Versailles - Hall 1
1, place de la Porte de Versailles - 15th Arrondissement
€22,00 - 60,00

January 30 - 31
"Numicarta" - Old Coins and Postcards Collectors Fair
Palais Onmisports de Bercy
8, boulevard de Bercy - 12th Arrondissement
€6,00 - 8,00

All of January - February 1
"Creche de Noel" - Christmas Nativity
Cathedral de Notre-Dame
Place du Parvis de Notre-Dame - 4th Arrondissement

All of January - March 10
"Ice Skating" - on specially designed artificial ice rinks
2 locations:
Place de l'Hotel de Ville - 4th Arrondissement
Patinoire Montparnasse
Place Raoul Daultry - 15th Arrondissement
Both free; Skate rental €5,00

Jean E. Arnevick. Olympia, Washington, USA

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Thank you for your interest and best regards,

The Welcome 2 France team
Tel. 1 (650) 267-4328
(free local call number in U.S. or Canada)

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