When I travel, I don't usually focus on shopping. Living in Chicago I can get almost anything I want without an issue. Travel is time to explore a new area, meet new people, learn about yourself and of course to sample new food and wine. This, of course, was my thought before I visited Paris. Before I left, I knew I would be looking for one specific item - shoes. I wanted new dress shoes that didn't look like the crap you find most places in the US.
The shoes I wanted had leather uppers and soles, with a wooden heel. I wanted it to have a more pointed toe. I didn't want the square or rounded toe shoe with rubber soles and heels. I had a pair of Hugo Boss shoes that fit this bill perfectly, but some crazy stew on a UAL flight ran over my shoe with the drink cart, cutting the leather. After this issue, I began searching for modern replacement shoes -- with no luck. I search in every store I could find. Looking at options from Aldo to Bruno Magli and found nothing.
I settled on a couple pairs at Nordstrom that I didn't love, but I could tolerate -- this transaction happened 3 days before my trip to Paris. Once we landed in Paris, I found several shops that had amazing shoes in the window. So many great shades, perfect shapes and a wide range of prices. While shopping doesn't make it high on my list of vacation activities, it did become an important part of my Paris trip -- unfortunately I waited until Sunday afternoon (following out walk through Saint-Germain-des-Pres) to begin my search in earnest. Most places were closed -- of course they were.
As we walked back to our hotel we found a place called Rudy's Chaussures, and it was devine. They were having a pretty big sale. I popped in and using my imperfect French I managed to request a few pairs of shoes in certain sizes and then ineloquently describe what didn't work with each option. I finally settled on two pairs of shoes. I bought a pair of black capped toed shoe and a pair of brown shoes. The brown shoes fit like a glove, while the black pair needs to be broken in a bit --they're a little tight across the toes.
I debated on buying a pair of chocolate brown suede shoes, but decided against it because I was afraid I wouldn't have enough opportunity to wear them. What a silly thought.
Here's the best part -- the two pair of shoes I bought cost a whopping 128€, which was less than a third of the price of the shoes I bought at Nordstrom just a week prior. Thankfully, Nordstrom has a very liberal return policy. I wish I had purchased a couple more pairs, these are such great shoes. If you happen to stumble across shoes by John Mac Gray, buy them. They are just fantastic. If you happened to be heading to Paris and will be in the Marais and would like to pick up a couple pairs for me, let me know and I'll let you know the style/size -- I will reimburse you, don't worry.
Is shopping a key part of your travel plans? Have you been looking for a certain article of clothing forever and just stumbled across it while on vacation? Do you put this much thought, effort into something as simple as shoes? Have you had good luck buying shoes in a foreign language?