Everyone I know in Paris goes to market with either a cart or a large basket. In fact, there was a time when it was just about necessary, because shops and street-market vendors didn’t have much to offer in the way of packaging. Fruit would go into little paper bags, but there were no shopping bags in which to consolidate your purchases; bread had a strip of paper around its middle so you could grab it; cheese was wrapped in a single piece of paper; ditto meat, fish, pate, anything, really. And it all went into your basket.
But those days are gone. The good news is that if you’ve forgotten your cart, there are always plastic shopping bags. The bad news is there are always plastic shopping bags – they’re as ubiquitous in Paris as they are in the States and they’re just as environmentally noxious.
The plastic-bag problem has been around for a while now, but it seems to have reached a tipping point because designers, the first to spot or create a trend, are now offering chic shopping bags, some, like the bag from Hermes, so expensive ($960!) it wouldn’t seem right to use them for anything less luxe than caviar or white truffles.
While I wouldn’t turn down an Hermes shopping sack, the bags I’m stockpiling – and giving as gifts – cost 90 (euro) cents and come from Monoprix, my favorite French general store.
You can buy the black nylon bag (see above), which folds up and fits into a pocket-size carry case (as does the silk Hermes bag), at the cashiers and, if you use them, your own cart, basket or sack, you get a bonus: the right to check out at a special counter where, for the moment at least, everything seems to chug along a little faster.
It’s a a good-looking bag and a great idea – maybe it will become a trend. And wouldn’t that be a good thing!