Last weekend I was in the centre of Montpellier doing a little browsing and musing on Christmas presents. I don't, in fact, buy much in actual shops. I like window-shopping, but I buy most things online from UK shops.
The 'mall' Polygone was awash with tempting items adorned in glitter and sparkly lights. The centre itself was a little disappointing. This year it is decorated all in blue and white, and while this is very tasteful and discreet, there is something lacking. It's so discreet, you're barely aware it's there. Maybe the whole panoply of decorations has yet to be installed.
There are three levels to the Polygone. When the third was added, I was hoping M&S would open up a shop, but it was at the time when they were closing all their international outlets, so many of us were terribly disappointed. There is a good variety however, from Galeries Lafayette, C&A, numerous clothes boutiques, Yves Rocher, a toy shop, music shop, eateries (Flunch, an oriental fast food joint, MacDo, coffee shops) and my favourites: The Body Shop, and Nature et Decouverte.
N&D is full of things I'd love to use but feel I don't have the lifestyle for, plus wooden toys, CDs of world music, whale songs, New Age compilations; an inside fountain that not only has running water but emits a smoke containing some aromatherapy oil which looked very dramatic. It was supposed to reduce stress so I can imagine days when I'd be sitting underneath it getting a continuous fix...
The Body Shop is always a delight. I buy nearly all my make-up there and love their Vitamin E face wash. This year they have some sparkly cranberry creams as part of their Christmas product line. The fragrance is a little strong but the sparkle is super.
Out in the open on the Place de la Comedie, a huge crowd had gathered around a group of musicians and singers. Being small, I couldn't make out much of who was doing what, but the music was certainly encouraging the audience to jig about. The genre was vaguely African, but the chorus of singers standing on the steps of the Opéra were all sorts.
Up rue St Jean we came across a street artist. He was recreating 'grand masters' in chalk on paper stuck to the paving stones. The best street artist I've heard of is Julian Beever who takes street art to the third dimension and should be on every perspective in art course going. The guy in Montpellier wasn't doing badly, but his stuff wasn't very inspired or individual either.
Anyway, I'll probably be doing my shopping from Hawkins, Mindware, and Ebay France and UK. I sometimes venture into ToysRUs, but I think I may be able to avoid it this year. As we'll be spending the New Year in the UK, we'll have a family Christmas then, so I have the presents bought in the UK and sent to my parent's address and that way I don't have to carry them over on mean old RyanAir with their draconian baggage limits.
It does mean I can mooch around town and enjoy the items on offer without panicking about having to buy or carry endless bags about. I love the internet.