Seeing Spots - An American leopard in Paris
You would assume, since I spend so much time with a hammer, a screw driver or a shovel, that whenever I am walking around enjoying myself in Paris, I would cross the street to avoid a home improvement store. It's quite the opposite, because I love to see the difference between American and French products. I get great ideas when shopping in Paris and it's a good way to learn the techniques and products available to me when gardening or renovating homes in France.
There are plenty of bricolage (hardware and building material) stores in France. Paris is dotted with small hardware stores and a few larger stores that carry a broad range of building materials, garden products, home decor and sometimes even pets. Some of them are up-market and also sell seasonal products such as Easter and Christmas decorations. I should say expensive decorations.
While some building products are the same as those used in the USA, there are lots of things that we don't have in America. Sometimes I wonder why we don't have some of the things I see, but it's more often that I'm struck by how easy we tend to make life in America. We create a tool for every job and we have an abundant selection of brands, levels of quality and assortment of styles. That's not generally the case in Europe. Frequently, one is obliged to choose from a small selection unless he goes to a specialty store which offers a greater range of choices or special orders. Perhaps it's because our stores are so much larger and we have more room to offer a greater selection. In Paris I might have a smaller amount of choices, but it's easy to live with the limits because of the unique items I find that aren't sold at all in the USA. It really makes up for the compromise.
It's especially rewarding to shop in the garden centers or furniture and decor departments. That's where I can really find interesting things that won't reach stores in the USA for a couple of years. Sometimes you will see people get on the metro with something they bought from one of the large hardware/decor stores. A couple of different times I've seen people get on the metro with massive lamp shades designed to go over dining room chandeliers. They're not your typical lamp shades. I'm talking about shades that are nearly three feet in diameter. It's quite the site on a crowded metro car. You name it and someone will try to drag it onto the metro if they don't have a car. I keep expecting to see someone leave the bricolage store and get on the metro with a brand new, high tech toilet. Hey, I bet it's be done before.
I really do enjoy walking through the stores and trying to decide which cool, new item I will wrestle onto the metro and use at home. I like building and gardening too much to pass by a store. This leopard can't change his spots, but don't worry - if i need a new toilet I'll have it delivered. M