Monday morning (22/12) down my local watering hole – the Nemrod – bar, tabac, presse and betting shop – buy your cigs, have a few beers buy a newspaper and even bet on the horses – what a civilised place.
« You broken up then ? » asks Didier, (le patron) as he plonks a cup of coffee and a packet of 20 Marlboro lights down on the counter.
« Broken up ???? » Queries I. « Well when I left the house half an hour ago I was still in a long term, stable and loving relationship with my better half, but, if you are referring to the festive blip – yes, I have broken up. »
And as I stand propping up the bar sipping my strong coffee, I feel relieved that we have made it to the end of another year and for the next few days all I have to do is sit and gorge myself on festive victuals as only the French know how.
Into town for Christmas shopping. I’ve left it late this year. Start with a saunter round the Christmas market. The usual ecclectic mix of unfestive crap that you would never dream of giving and certainly hate to receive. Who buys their nearest and dearest hand made scented soap for Christmas. First and foremost their is the pleasure of giving – I wouldn’t give this crap to anyone – a total waste of money, and, if a présent is an expression of love or friendship – well there are quite a few things on this market that would be a pretext for breaking up.
« Happy Christmas darling, this is for you. » and as the better half unwraps her pottery vase / scented soap / hand-painted teapot /Peruvian shawl … consternation, feigned pleasure and one more waste of money présent that would even shift on e-Bay.
And that’s another new phenomenon – seling your unwanted prsents on e-bay coming Boxing Day. Give someone a present they want or just give them money
So, what are the French giving each ther for Christmas ?
This year’s biggest sellers in France are smart phones and thse do-everything tactile tablet things – an i-pad for mum and dad and a VTech Storio tablet for the littl’uns. In all, the French are reckoned to spend 2 billion Euros on high tech gadgetry tgis Christmas
Best-selling kids toy is not the Teksta digital puppy , but the Furby. So ar 1.4 million of the big-eared, bug-eyed geeky digital gonks have been sold in France in the run up the Christmas. This ghastly gonk can sing, dance, laugh and (according to the ad I am reading) « relay its inner emotions via it s eyes » which are equipped with mini LCD screens. And I bet after al that, come Christmas day, the kids will cast the freaky Furby in a far corner of the room as thet play with the wrapping. Folliwing the démise of the Beybalde spinning top craze, it is the Furby that has saved the Hasbro toy company from oblivion.
Now, for the gentlemen reading this, you may be living with the real fear that you are getting a sweater for Christmas. I have noticed in France at least that those awful chunky knit reindeer sweaters are back in fashion – however the « in » garment for this Christmas is the cachmere sweater. Ladies, this is the absolute MUST for the man in your life. You can pick up a real cachmere pullover from 70 Euros upwards, though Japanese clothing retaiers Uniqulo sell a cachmere « mix » for around 30 Euros. Top notch French sweater maker Eric Bompard have so far sold 180,000 cachmere sweaters in the run-up to Christmas.
One present that has fallen off everyone’s Christmas list this year is the « Box » – the Smartbiox or the Wonderbox – you must have seen them. For upwards of 100 Euros or so, you can buy the love of your life the experience of a lifetime, be it hurtling round a race track in a Ferrari, eating in a top gourmet restaurant, or ballooning over the Château of the Loire. Sounds great, but for experience I know that a hot air balloon ride over the Chteaux of the Loire is going to set you back more than 100 Euros. Anyway, it seems that quite a few people were disappointed with the « expérience of a lifetime » – it would appear that hurtling round a race track in a Ferrari was no more than a ride in a simulator, and as for that gourmet restaurant – well for the 50 or so Euros the « box » cost, you only got a starter and had to add on the rest.
Ah well, I hope you like what you get, or you get what you desreve or you even desserve what you get. Know that the average French expenditure on presents is just over 300 Euros per person. In this most gourmet of nation’s, food accounts for an average spend of 175 Euros per person – yeah, you’d think that the French would be spending more on food than gifts.
Oh well, enough on presents, I’d better go and wrap mine.