Thursday, 14 February 2013

Paris, and La Droguerie

guy and lila
 My favourite photo from Paris.

Towards the end of our trip, we spent a couple days in Paris- because really, if you're a short train ride away, why wouldn't you?! We had an amazing time. The food, the sights... ah, Paris.

I even had an opportunity to go to La Droguerie, one of the better known yarn and haberdashery shops in Paris. And.... it was an epic disappointment. And not just because one of the staff berated me for taking a photo. It's a very pretty shop, but it is not customer-friendly at all. Even if you speak fluent French (I had some help with the fluent part, I went with someone who was). The yarn that you see in the store is only display yarn (and it is a modest selection, but with a good colour range), so you have to ask someone to get you the yarn that you would like. Except you don't just find the nearest staff person and they are able to help you, you have to hover near the yarn (they provide benches for you to sit on), and wait. And wait. And wait. It is apparently the norm to wait around 45 minutes for someone, even if you can see three staff members at the back of the shop near the swifts chatting with each other. Even if the woman at the cash register is sitting right there by the yarn, in a booth. I assume that this is clearly a cultural difference. Obviously it works for them, or they would change it. But I left empty handed, and that was disappointing. They do have an impressive button selection, though. And it looked like you had a better chance of getting service if you were only buying buttons.
 It's okay, though. Who goes to Paris for the yarn, anyway? And it was the only down moment of the whole trip- otherwise I found that Parisians were generally quite friendly and helpful, and the food was spectacular. Plus that photo of Lila on Guy's shoulders with the Eiffel Tower in the background pretty much just made my year.

35 comments:

katherinelynn_04 said...

I totally understand how that photo of Lila and Guy could make your year. How is your child so adorable?! She really is the cutest.

i'm sad that La Droguerie was such a bummer...I always feel awkward in yarn shops that have a similar feel, like you're being judged and/or generally ignored. They don't get my business after that.

Emily said...

They are a little arrongant at La Droguerie, I think they think it makes tham look better. I went there once, probably won't go again. It's not worth it, they are way to expensive too. Luckily most other French people are pretty ok (I'm Belgian, a whole different breed :D)

Nice to see you had a nice time!

christine said...

That picture is absolutely gorgeous. Paris is the best!

Lucie said...

I tell everyone to never ever set foot in that shop again. Most of the people working there are awful, and speaking/being French has nothing to do with it.

Candace said...

Oh dear, it's a shame that La Doguerie was a disappointment and that it doesn't seem to be a one time incident either (judging from the comments). Your pictures are lovely though. Also - where did you get that fox scarf? It's so cute!

kessainstitches said...

What a pity that La Doguerie is the downer of your trip. Well, now we know better. Love the photos, though. Looks like a great trip and little Lila definitely inherited her mommy's photogenic genes!

Voie de Vie said...

That Lila and Guy photo is the best!!!!!!

And it *is* a cultural thing. The Parisian version customer service is vastly different than that of most other countries, especially US/Canada. Many American ex-pat writers have just such commentary, so don't take it personally (and it seems clear you didn't).

I'm glad you made it to Paris - did you actually go up into the tower (or see it at night, all lit)?

Teri said...

I lived in the South of France for a while and I loved it and met some awesome lovely French people. But the snotty postal worker who made all the ex-pats suffer in order to make their phone calls through her still remains one of my most vivid memories. I imagine your experience at La Droguerie was much the same...Ooh la la.

Anonymous said...

Lovely photos, Lila is the most cutest, squishiest baby ever ( after my girls when they were small of course!). I visited La Droguerie in Bordeaux and had a much nicer experience as far as the service goes, but in general French yarn stores do not like customers to touch the merchandise! Ask me how I know...
(Terdotty on rav)

Isabelle said...

La Droguerie is hugely overrated anyway... not to mention overpriced.

So glad you had a great time in my country - it does look like you guys enjoyed yourselves! Lila is just adorable. I applaud you for managing such a big trip with a wee one!

KnittingPony said...

It looks like you're having a great trip, but very disappointing re: La Droguerie. My mother is Italian and I once (and only once) bought yarn in Italy, in a small local shop selling really lovely merino wool yarn. It sounds like a similar situation, with yarn behind the counter and a lady to help you by asking you which yarn you would like. They weren't snotty, but it was annoying not to be able to take the time to browse and ponder!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting on Paris, your pictures brought back memories of my trip last summer with my my little girl...who just turned 19!! I found Droguerie the same, unfriendly. I do wish you could have visited the Lil'Weaseal...I had to hunt for it but worth the trouble as the people were lovely, the selection small but beautiful and an overall fantastic experience.
Treasure this time, if you blink that little girl will be 19!

Monica said...

What an adorable photo!!! And all the other ones are neautiful as well. I love Paris. I have been a few times now, and generally have had no issues with attitude, but the few times I have...it really does get to you. Oh well.

Pascale said...

I recognize that you have to wait for a long long time if you want to buy yarn at la Droguerie.

But there are other interesting shops
where you are welcome Le Comptoir, (26 rue Cadet Paris 9ème - M° Cadet),Lil Weasel, Cat'Laine (rue St Marc), L’OisiveThé

Have a good time !

Carmel said...

I love the picture of Lila and G in front of the Eiffel tower! the look on her face is perfect! Glad you had a wonderful trip!
C.

KnittingBetsy said...

The picture of G and Lila really is great! And you can be so proud of such a cute baby.

Don't worry about La Droguerie, if you don't feel comfortable in that shop it's their fault you don't buy anything. It really sounds very strange. Here in Germany it's totally different, thank God. I've never been to Paris or even France, so I've no comparison.
But I think you have many other souvenirs and good memories.

lollyknits.com said...

Your baby makes the greatest faces. She is so precious! I'm super jealous of your Paris trip, and sad about your yarn shop disappointment. I'm glad you had such a wonderful time!!

Cecile said...

I know your feeling about La Droguerie. I'm French and I'm still be treated like dirt there anyway! They just think there are so cool than they don't need to be nice (or at least do their job in a time efficient manner). Their shop is so successful anyway than they don't care. Sad, but true!
If you're still in Paris while reading this, there is a smaller La Droguerie inside the "grand magasin" Le Bon Marche". Far less crowed, so people are nicer there... It's worth a trip there!

Laura said...

I'm with you on La Droguerie! I was so excited to go there in the fall, and was also with a friend who speaks French fluently. Left empty-handed but... made up for the shopping (and then some) in E.Dehillerin down the street!

ali said...

This is totally a cultural thing. Completely. I spent 3 years living in France, working in Switzerland and this kind of thing happened all the time. It drove me nuts. After the first year of fighting it, it taught me to slow down, but it was still infuriating. It seems totally rude and ridiculous, but apparently if it's break time, it's break time and they are going to milk it till the last second. It seems like an entitlement issue, but I don't think they see it as an issue at all.

I am American so the thought of not getting served immediately was outrageous, but made me realize (also after having visited a few other countries during this 3 year period) that the US compared to Europe is ridiculous in its consumerism. It made me appreciate the Europeans' way of embracing life and how different Europe is to the US. But holy cow am I glad to be back in the US!!

Looks like a nice time and your family is just too adorable!! :D

Hilary said...

Yep, that photo is amazing! Lila is THE CUTEST!!! What a bummer about La Droguerie. That would drive me crazy. Not that I insist on being served RIGHTTHISSECOND all the time, but it's nice to at least feel somewhat comfortable and welcomed by a place to whom you are going to give your money. Anyway...boo. :( It looks like the rest of the trip was a blast, though!

Loulou said...

Oh it looks like it was wonderful trip (except for the bad experience in the shop. Yuk). I completely understand why your favourite photograph is the one that it is! So cute.

Anonymous said...

Bonjour,

Sorry for my English...you'll see !

Let me try and if it works I shall go on

Le Trio

Susan said...

Too fabulous! What a memorable photo for sure.

Poppy said...

Glad you had a good time in Paris!
For La Droguerie, they are like this in Paris, but it's usually not the case in their other shops in France. You will wait a bit, but not too long and they are very nice, at last, in Nice
There are other fantastic shops in Paris, especially Lil Weasel and l'Oisivethé

Anonymous said...

Dear You and Lila and Guy

(Sorry if our english is not so good)...
We are « Le Trio », three of La Droguerie, dea with many little things on internet as www.tricots-de-la-droguerie.fr

We have seen your nice report about your family trip in Paris. Also we noticed your desagreement in thye shop in Paris rue du Jour.
We are pushing our collegues to improve their welcoming attitude; your report will be useful in this purpose. Be sure that your opinion and all the comments following are useful and are taken into consideration.

Something special in La Droguerie is that we prepare the yarns according to the need of each customer : we devide if you ask for 10 grams in 60 colors, we do it ! If you want a mix of two yarns together, we make it in your colors and exactly according your needs. By 10 grams. Customers do appreciate this service. But it takes some time and you might have seen several staffs winding with their hands and - as you say - talking or chatting.
Anyway they should have better explained the organization avoiding your desappointment.

We want to be more customer-friendly and next time we hope it will be much better : we are working on it.

Also try the other La Droguerie shops and our blog : make three wishes, we try to realise at least one at perenoel@ladroguerie.com

Le Trio

Alix said...

Wouaouh, if your post could make things better in La droguerie! I am french living in Toulouse, the system is the same than in Paris, only one person can prepare yarn for customers, so the delay can be very long (particularly on Saturday). And usually, like you, I don't buy them anything. But a lot of people seems to be more patient, explaining their success!

Maryse said...

Wow, I hope I go to Paris some day! As for the French people, they are pretty rude. Imagine, many of them will not even understand French from Quebec... :( But there are so many things to enjoy in France! I would not complain too much about it ;-)

knitalatte said...

Wow, looks like an amazing family trip. Baby Lila is growing so fast. It is so interesting that you got a reply back from the yarn store, La Droguerie. They say the first step is awareness. I think that pointing out their issues with delayed or non-existant customer service via your blog was really brave and important. I can't imagine a store losing business from pure neglect of its customers, how shameful! Hats off to you for your blog post. Hopefully the next person to walk thru their doors will have a better experience, we can only hope...

eliza said...

bummer about la droguerie! but not about the rest of paris! it looks like it was wonderful!

Jules said...

I've been thinking about this post since I read it yesterday and even shared it with my husband. The comment from actual employees acknowledging the problem was touching and kind of sad at the same time. I've never been there, but I always thought it would be a must-see if I visited Paris. But being helpful and polite to your customers is just common sense! My husband said it makes a perfect climate to open a competing shop where knitters are welcome and given good service. Anyway, it would be great if your post brought change at La Droguerie.

froschkoenigin said...

The next time you are in Paris, go to these shops for yarn (I never went to La droguerie for the yarn, but I must say that it is worth it to go there if you want to make your own jewelry...they definitely have the best selection, even if it is expensive)

Lil Weasel (the owner speaks English, store is super cute in a beautiful passage close to Etienne Marcel)

Entree des fournisseurs in the Marais (carries my favourite French yarn brand Fonty)

and here is a list of more knitting
shopshttp://www.colleensparis.com/shopping/stores/paris-knitting-needlework-fabric-addresses/

francoise_hardy said...

I went to La Droguerie a while back. Had to wait for a while, but the service was excellent. Despite my terrible French they were able to understand my confusing request for the yarn used in one of their beret patterns (striped in 6 different colours of alpaca and one of bamboo) but enough of it to make a cardigan. They did the calculations involved and because they wound the yarns themselves I didn't have to buy whole balls of colours that I wasn't going to use. There are some upsides to the system!

Annette Wakely said...

The Drouguerie was just as you described. The employee berated me as well in Paris for attempting to take a picture. I thought it must be just Paris so I went to one in Nice. Oh my! I was greeted instantly with do not touch anything. I found that my experience at Phildar both in Paris and in Albi was much more fun.

Annette Wakely said...

The Drouguerie was just as you described. The employee berated me as well in Paris for attempting to take a picture. I thought it must be just Paris so I went to one in Nice. Oh my! I was greeted instantly with do not touch anything. I found that my experience at Phildar both in Paris and in Albi was much more fun.