SAD and Au Vieux Campeur

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I don’t know if displaced tropical Queenslanders are more likely to suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder or Winter Depression) than others but I can’t find any other explanation for having felt so down this week. Already the days are short (it’s only light from 9 am to 5 pm max) but the scaffolding on the balcony cuts out most of what natural light there is and gives artificial neon light from 8 am until 7 pm. The flower seller at the market found me so down on Sunday that he gave me a kitchy little pot of four-leaf clover!

Four-leaf clover to cheer me up
Four-leaf clover to cheer me up

Relationnel was told the scaffolding was moving to the next set of windows today so about 10.30 am, I went downstairs to find some workmen to ask. They reassured me it was D-Day so I raised my arm and said “yey!”. They looked a little surprised so I explained that they were my windows that had been obscured for the last four months.

The scaffolding outside my window
The scaffolding outside my window

The sun was out, the sky was blue and just going downstairs seemed to cheer me up so I thought I’d go to Rue de Rennes to look after the missing suitcase invoice problem. First stop was a shoe shop called Arcus. I gave them the date and amount. They were very friendly and immediately tracked down the purchase and gave me a receipt.

The scaffolding seen from downstairs
The scaffolding seen from downstairs

Then I walked down to Boulevard Saint Germain to one of the Au Vieux Campeur shops. Parisians swear by this shop, though I don’t really understand why. It used to be just one shop on rue des Ecoles selling outdoorsey stuff. It is now a series of speciality shops – 29 in the Latin quarter alone – selling everything to do with sport and camping.

My objection, apart from the prices, is that the shops I go to (mainly for walking shoes) are always full of people. I spent a full hour trying on every possible pair of shoes in the shop before we went to Australia in September. I finally bought some ugly looking turquoise and grey shoes that gave me horrendous blisters in Tasmania. And then, when I had finally worn them in, they disappeared with the suitcase!

An unknown church on the way from rue de Rennes to boulevard Saint Germain

So I went back to the shop where I bought them, stood in line and asked for a receipt. I was sent to the “main shop”, two streets away. I queued there as well only to be told that I had to go back to the first shop. The lady rang up the guy and told him he had to give me a receipt. I went back and stood in line and gave him the details. He couldn’t find my purchase of course. “What time was it?” You gotta be joking – I’m supposed to remember the time I bought the shoes? I only know I was there for too long.

He finally sats it is not in his cash register. “Is this the only place I could have paid for the shoes I got downstairs?” “No”, he says relunctantly, “there are those two as well”, indicating a couple of computer screens further along the counter. “You mean, these three cash registers are not connected up ?” “Er, no.” “Are you telling me I have to wait until there are two more sales people to check?” “Well, I could turn them on.” Which he eventually did and I queued again while he served another few people.

The bistrot with the awful food - Le Cluny
The bistrot with the awful food – Le Cluny

Not that I blame him, it must have been very annoying for the other customers. Anyway, he still couldn’t find any trace of my purchase so I dispiritedly went out, by which time the rain was absolutely pouring down and I didn’t have an umbrella. I took refuge in the closest brasserie, Le Cluny, and ate an absolutely awful meal of spare ribs and potatoes. The young waiter commisserated and gave me a free coffee.

So, here I am, back home, still waiting for the scaffolding to move and it’s already 4.30, which is terribly close to knock-off time.

Next day’s update: removal of the scaffolding is now postponed to 7th January.

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20 thoughts on “SAD and Au Vieux Campeur”

  1. Sorry to hear it’s all a bit bleh. Surely the scaffolding must come down soon! The lost suitcase business must be thoroughly tedious too. I thought of you and another person we know whose luggage disappeared in transit recently when we packed to come home. I photographed the half packed suitcases for a sort of record just in case. Because our layover was so long in China I was rather dubious that our suitcases, which we checked through for the whole journey, would reappear at the other end, but they did, thank goodness. Get yourself a good movie on DVD and watch it to cheer yourself up!

    1. Thanks! The scaffolding is still there and I can’t hear any activity so I think it might be there all weekend. There was too much wind to move it yesterday (they’ve set up a rail system to slide it over to the next set of windows). This is very out of character for me – I don’t get depressed easily. I’m glad your suitcases didn’t disappear! I’ll see what i can do about the DVD.

  2. Hi
    For SADD I take 1000UI of vitamin D per day from October to March since we have really short days then and the valley is very often cloudy especially Dec and January – seems to help.

    1. Hello, and thanks for commenting. The doctor gave me vitamin D recently, which I’m supposed to take every two weeks and I stupidly left it in Blois. I’ll have to get some more.

  3. So well-written and evocative of that grey, lack-of-light (and lack of ‘light’ with that darn camping/shoe store and its maddening interactions) activities. My favourite part was the young waiter who shouted you the coffee in his commiseration! Yay Paris waiter 🙂

    Hang in there – the days are getting longer. Yippee!

    1. Thank you Caroyn. It’s true, the days are getting longer now! The waiter wanted to give me dessert first then realised it was part of my set menu!

  4. Sorry to hear you are feeling a bit blue, but hopefully by the time this is read, that damned scaffolding is DOWN! I’m so glad you like my soap tho 🙂 Wishing you a much lighter New Year 🙂 xx

    1. Thanks Jill. The sad news is that it is now coming down (well, no exactly down – they slide it over to the next set of windows which means I’ll still have a certain amount of noise but the light won’t be blocked out). I put the little Eiffel Tower on the Christmas tree BTW.

  5. Hello and happy new year to you.
    We don’t know each other ( although, i’d love to meet you), but i came accross your blog while searching for comments on Au Vieux Campeur.
    I am currently employed there and i wanted to offer my help. I used to work in the accounting office and i can assure you that if you know the date of your purchase and the amount you paid, the store or the office can print a duplicate receipt.
    You probably had to deal with an inexperienced cashier, you should contact the accounting office at 01/53/10/48/55 or at
    I hope that it will be of help to you. I apologize for any errors as english is not my native language!

    1. Hello Aurelia and a happy new year to you too. How nice of you to offer your help! After I came home, I sent a letter addressed to the Au Vieux Camper shoe shop asking for a receipt for another pair of shoes and included a stamped addressed envelope as I thought, like you, that the casier was simply inexperienced. If I don’t hear back again by next week I’ll phone the number you gave me.
      And you obviously speak excellent English because you didn’t make any mistakes at all!

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