Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Outlets On the Route
I have been to the outlet mall village of Marques Avenue many times. Perhaps a dozen. But I have always arrived from the north, while driving from Paris or Lyon and heading down the A7 toward my home in the northern Vaucluse.
So here's the deal. The exit number when you are driving south is #13, but when you are driving north, the highway said to exit at #15...so I did. To tell you I was lost and almost in Grenoble is not an exageration. I was following signs for ROMANS, and suddenly there were none. I decided to backtrack, took an off-ramp and then hit a round about, but then fell upon the N49 highway, pointing toward Romans and the shoe-making capital of France. Phew; I eventually got there.
I would have to look at a map or a crystal ball to understand exactly where Romans in located, although on all my trips I have arrived via one route and left on another. So today, I got there in reverse. Either way, it's a bit of a schlep once you leave the highway, so be patient. It's very much worth it.
With prices as high as they are in France (who cares if the dollar is stronger, things are still crazy expensive), it was a treat to finally find my way across the river Isere and into town. Although I was at Marques Avenue just a year ago, there were many new stores and even a new layout to enjoy. Construction was banging on about me, with more stores coming.
I'd tell you which ones if I knew ...or if anyone there would talk. The place seems to be very hush-hush, like 'don't mention the war'. I was threatened by a security guard when I took a photo of the logo sign (above) and no vendors would let me take pictures (or notes)inside their stores. Maybe this is a CIA front. I guess you'll have to come to France in person to see the new colors at Le Creuset. (Turquoise.)
Marques Avenue is not the best outlet mall in France (the one at Marne Le Vallee outside of Paris is the best here), but it's come a long way in a few years and is seemingly getting more yummy each year. I parked in front of the Lindt outlet. Yes, I am going to Switzerland next week -- but why wait when there's an outlet in front of you?
All of the Easter products were obviously on sale, but when I chose a giant sized box og Lindor bonbons, 25% was deducted at the cash register. Now if I can get 25% deducted from my hips, we'll be in business.
It's some sort of promotion time at the outlet mall, so most stores had sales with 30-50% off their everyday low prices. I was so dumbfounded by prices at bedlinen maker Anne Solene, that I begged to be excused for asking dumb questions (I played the 'estranger' card) but was the marked price 50% off or was it again another 50% off?!!
And so my pre-birthday party began at Anne Solene-- I got to deduct another 50%, making duvet covers cost from 25-40 euros, which is damn good in France. I even bought a set of duvet cover plus two pillow cases (another 16 euros, svp) for Sarah for her birthday in June. Everybody celebrates today!
I could maybe do better on these items price-wise in the U.S., but not style cum price-- not any where. And the linens are made in Lille, not China. (I've been to the factory.)
There are numerous home style shops at Marques Avenue; most were too expensive for me even with an outlet price tag on their goods. There are several children's boutiques; no interest for me. I avoided the clothing stores, although for editorial purposes only went into Venti Stock, the Ventilo outlet and Nitya, my favorite French brand, which is sort of a floating, Indian, ethnic look great for people who eat too much chocolate.
There's also Spanish outlets, such as Mango and then the sports brands and several cookwares store -- besides the polite but firm people at Le Creuset.
The bathrooms are clean; there are two sandwich shops; the parking is free. Despite grey skies and scattered showers, it was a beautiful day in France.