Vive la différence!


I was a teenager when I first started to travel out of England, where I grew up. I didn’t care about traditional souvenirs; one of the coolest things for me was to come home with a tube of toothpaste of an unfamiliar brand that said it was “dentifrice” or a bar of soap that called itself “sapone.” The ultimate in cool was using foreign, and therefore exotic, products.

Now the same stores and the same products are everywhere, and I find it very disappointing. It’s not that anyone makes me shop at Tesco in Prague or eat at McDo (God forbid!) in Paris or buy Colgate toothpaste in Venice; it’s that I don’t want it to be even a possibility.

Sales were going on while my friends and I were in Lille (carefully avoiding Euralille for fear of finding a WalMart), and I’m happy to say that the exotic kicked in for me because the window displays were far more creative and daring than anything you’d be likely to see in the United States. This one was my favorite: At Gatsby’s “chaque homme est unique.”


4 Responses to Vive la différence!

  1. MLL says:

    Amusant !
    Agréable de se promener dans le vieux Lille, n’est-ce pas ?

  2. Marie McC says:

    Agreed, globalization sucks in some respects! One of my delights the first time I ever visited Paris was finding a cheese called Vache Qui Rit!!

  3. Elisabeth says:

    I believe that there are no Wal-Marts in France, due to the domination of the Carrefour group in the country, I think. But, frankly, being in a Carrefour – except for the fact that the product mix is different, especially in the food area – is pretty much the same as being in a Wal-Mart. The employees even wear the same kind of smock, on which I read, in July 2005, the following saying: “Comment puis-je vous aider à mieux consommer?” (“How can I help you to consume better?”)

  4. Passante says:

    MLL — Oui, très agréable. C’est une ville intéressante et je m’y suis bien amusée.

    Marie — And now it’s in all the supermarkets here!

    Elisabeth — Well at least they don’t pretend they exist to do anything but push the merchandise!

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