Les Soldes! Who Doesn’t Love A Sale?

What are “Les Soldes“?  It translates to “the sales”.  Here in Europe, sales don’t happen like they do in the US.  This is not the land of constant markdowns and bargain shopping.  Twice a year for about a month (in August and January), they sell off the previous season’s merchandise at a discount.  In France, the dates are set by the government!

At first, they start with 20-30%.  After a couple of weeks, they mark things down to a second reduction of 50% off.     If you get really lucky, they will mark things down to a final reduction of 70% off.  Even though “never pay retail” should be tattooed on me somewhere, I haven’t gone buck nutty.  I still think you can buy things less expensively in the US.  Knowing there is a better deal out there somewhere takes all the fun out of it.

Les Soldes are practically a national sport around here.  People will scout things out ahead of time, stalk the remaining garmets in the store and play the waiting game to get the best deal.

Some stores splash the discounts all over their storefronts.

Others (like Valentino) are a bit more discreet.

I didn’t even see any markdowns at Gucci.

By the way, the crazy storefront had this in the window for him.  Unfortunately it hasn’t gone on sale yet.

If you are planning on doing some shopping, EuroCheapo and Europe Up Close have some good ideas for tackling the sales.

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Geneva’s Rising Crime Rate

Courtesy of World Radio Switzerland

The New York Times recently ran an article entitled “Open Borders and Wealth Lure Thieves To Geneva” addressing Geneva’s dramatic rise in crime rates (for property crimes like property theft, car theft and break-ins).  It cited several reasons for the rise:

Locals have complained about the deteriorating security situation ever since the Schengen Agreement opened Switzerland’s borders to much of Europe.

Courtesy Moveoneinc.com

In December 2008, Switzerland (even though it is not part of the European Union) became part of Schengen, a zone offering unrestricted travel to Europe.  In Schengen areas, borders are open.  There are no more passport checks entering countries or at borders (even though there are police checks at borders or checks for trafficked goods). On a side note, don’t get caught bringing a bunch bargain French meat into Switzerland.  The Swiss, who love a fine, will make you pay.

Before our move, people warned us of the problems with break-ins.  We forked over a ton of CHF‘s to get this.  It bolts the door into the door frame.  We also got an additional top lock.  To get into our apartment in Geneva, you pretty much need to do this.

Courtesy of Vortex

All of the buildings here have these too.  Our code changed once already because of an attempted break-in.  Our neighbor’s bar stopped the thieves, but it was so badly damaged that they had to call a locksmith to let them in.

After having lived in Detroit, I keep track of my stuff, don’t leave anything out, lock all of my many locks and don’t worry.  Mom and Dad, you don’t need to worry about either.  Despite the rise in reported crime, Geneva is still the sixth safest city in the world.