Hermès

Oprah gave us all the okay to return to Hermès.
She said it was all a misunderstanding and because one particular Parisian salesperson who was “rude and rigid”

I, for one, am so relieved that it’s once again okay to shop at Hermès.

If that one experience has been her only encounter with a rude salesperson in Paris…that’s a subject that deserves an entire episode! I’ve come across more than one or two Parisian salespeople I’d like to trap in a room for a good Dr. Phil-style slap-down…and I’d buy the DVD just to watch it over and over and over.

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So anyways, she kissed and made up with Hermès and a rush of relief was visible in the studio audience when she told everyone to that they should rush off to Hermés to buy a Kelly bag. Since there’s an 18-month waiting list for the more-expensive and elusive Birkin bag, I didn’t want to waste another minute of time in getting on that list.

( I had a brief flashback of Martha toting a Hermès bag during her trial, which many felt didn’t do her much good. Carrying a pricey Kelly bag many felt sealed her fate since it made her look ‘elitist’. So if you see a made-for-tv movie about my life starring Cybil Shepard, blame Oprah.)

So I polished my shoes, paid off my Visa bill, and took the Métro to the fashionable rue du Faubourg St. Honoré to worship at the temple of sublime French style, Hermès.

…and I took a cue from Oprah: Don’t be late!

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Located just off the place Madeleine, the windows of Hermès were filled with all sorts of handbags, the featured ones were indeed the Kelly bags (who says the French have no idea who Oprah is? They put those pricey bags on display to torture all those women from Iowa who watch Oprah.) There was a pink ostrich one (10,000 euros) and an alligator model whose price made the ostrich one look like a beach tote from K-Mart.

Since I dressed-for-success, I didn’t hesitate to go inside. I pulled open the door and was warmly welcomed because I was white (…just kidding!) As the cool wave of American-style air conditioning swept over me, I pondered what I’d purchase.

I walked softly over the inlaid vintage tile floor as I passed shoppers rushing to try on Hermès scarves; knots and leafy wisps of silk softly trailing in every direction. The leather handbags were safely guarded within glass showcases and lots of them were being packed up in chic orange boxes.

No one (except me) seemed too interested in the horse saddles which were just hanging off the wall unattended (I guess shoplifters aren’t interested in leather horse saddles.) I paused in front of a tray of slender strips of leather meant to be worn around your wrist, which looked remarkably similar to the ones they sell at H & M for 5 euros. But who says the Kelly bag is all that rare? Aside from the models in the window, I passed by a Kelly bag with a diamond-encrusted Hermès “H”. I considered the purchase, but declined. Not because it was 100,400 euros, but simply I felt it was a bit over-the-top and I couldn’t imagine who I would give it to. Imagine toting that through the Métro?
So unlike everyone else that likes to follow her advice, Oprah would be so upset with me. I left without buying anything.
Do you think perhaps that’s why I never got on her show?

Dejected I left.
But not before checking out the colorful beach towels. Sadly, as the saying goes, “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it”. So of course I asked.
One Hermès beach towel: 320 euros.

So what does this have to do with food, you’re asking?
Isn’t this a food blog?

I was prompted to visit Hermés since I had a fabulous Thai dinner at the home of a friend whos family oversees much of Hermés production and even has their own special mark on several choice leather pieces (And no, I didn’t ask about a staff discount. That would be tacky…er, wouldn’t it?)
I was stunned to have an excellent Thai dinner she had cooked, although not surprising since she lived in Japan for 12 years and in Thailand as well. Soon she is moving to Laos, and is trying to learn the Laotian language. She spoke French, Italian, Thai, Japanese, and perfect English. So today I figured I should go see what she did for a living since I’m so nosy.

(And speaking of nosy, this morning I actually explained who Gladys Kravitz is…in French. Then I had to explain the double-entendre of the title, ‘Bewitched’ as well. That was a real test of my French proficiency, I tell you.)

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Anyhow…
With my empty credit card burning a hole in my pocket, I found salvation nearby with a petit sac of chocolate macarons from Jean-Paul Hévin, a chocolatier whose macaron au chocolat won the title of the Le Meilleur Macaron de Paris in Paris this year.

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In there are six luscious chocolat, chocolat-praline, and chocolat-caramel macarons.
Price?
Just under 6 euros.

I strolled over to my favorite wine bar in Paris just down the street, located near a cramped, little oyster bar that I once had the nerve to send chef Thomas Keller to, which luckily he loved (whew!… otherwise that would have shot down my Paris cred big-time.)

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I had two nice glasses of Chinon, a fruity red wine from the Loire Valley, served slightly chilled.
Price?
2.6 euros per glass.

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So instead of being in the hole for 100,400 euros, I had spent just 10 euros and had a wonderful Parisian afternoon. And no one was rude to me! Maybe Oprah ought to give me a call next time she’s in town and I’ll show her a good time and perhaps she’ll buy me one of those nice leather Hermès bracelets as gratitude…although with my luck, it’ll be the saddle.

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5 comments

  • This posting, as usual for your blog, is fun and funny. Also educational (I love it when we learn things without even trying, don’t you?). Many thanks for describing ways for visitors to have great fun in Paris at a very economical price point. I just returned from several weeks there and am grinning from ear to ear at how much fun I had, how much good food I ate, how much delicious wine I drank — and how it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. (Of course, it DOES require being a good metro rider — or an outstanding long-distance walker! But, that’s half the fun because you see so much of the REAL surroundings along the way. Something, I wager, that Oprah has never experienced!)

  • For me the lure is BCBG without labels. Therefore, and I am of course not Oprah the billionaire, I would not buy you a Hermes bracelet but one of the clever pins I saw in a gallerie boutique, or an umbrella made entirely by hand, which although pricy was attainable as a gift for my child. How else could she ever have a violet taffeta ruched umbrella? I was in hopes she would find it too foo-foo and I could keep it. No such luck.
    Mouth open, I walk through those beautiful streets and find that Paris knows it is possible to express oneself as art without anyone’s signature or initials. But that, of course, was before I saw those hazlenut-marshmallow-chocolate bombs.

  • Oh DL, you do make me laugh! Sounds like a perfect way to spend a day in Paris. Im happy to hear that you restrained yourself from purchasing anything at Hermes, because if you do spend 100,000 euros there, I certainly want to be there to witness it. In fact, I could be your designated ‘nose in the air’ shopping companion!

  • At first I was disappointed that you didn’t buy the diamond-encrusted Kelly bag, but then I saw those macarons, and boy was I glad you saved your money for the important stuff! Hilarious post, I loved it!

  • i’m sorry but hello oprah? she’s a nice lady and all, but it’s normal practice that once shop is closed, it is closed for any other admittance while the customers within the shop continue (within reasonable time) so they can complete their purchase… my view, she definitely is playing the celebrity card!