Lots of new vocabulary today, and part two of our story from the fashion capital of the world!
faire du lèche-vitrines
: to go window shopping
Dans la luxueuse Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Jackie et Kristi ont fait du lèche-vitrines.
In the luxurious Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Jackie and Kristi window-shopped.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristin Espinasse
For part one of this story, click here
Though a direct train from Toulon to Milan now exists, Jackie and I took the trusty SNCF. Jean-Marc did not want us to miss our connection in Ventimille, so he drove us over the border to catch our Italian train. Three hours later (including a visual feast of the sea and countryside outside the train window) and my daughter and I were in the capital of Lombardy--home of the Milan Cathedral and the world's fashion capital!
As we rolled our bags out of the station, I opened my Uber phone app--the ride-sharing icon I'd downloaded earlier--to hail a car. Only we were out of luck. It turns out the low-priced service is as unwelcome by Italian cabbies as it is here in France.
Noticing a line up of travelers on the curb-side, we easily hailed a cab the old-fashioned way. Fourteen euros later and we were delivered to our rental apartment.
Andrea, the man who owned the one-bedroom flat, was standing in front of the three-story building, welcoming us with a warm smile and open arms which reached for our bags. But Jackie and I insisted on carrying our own, and we rolled our valises beyond the iron gate, across the cobbled stones, and into one of the stairwells issuing from the courtyard we'd just rumbled over.
The apartment was nickel--clean as a whistle. There was a kitchenette with brightly painted tiles in apple green, and the walls above the sink were decorated with still life paintings. The bedroom had twin beds with elegant lampshades covering a porcelain base carved with little angels.
As charming as the apartment was, Jackie and I picked up our steps on the 8-minute walk to the metro... the graffiti-lined streets (peopled only with clusters of young men in hoods) made us uneasy. To be fair, we would be wearing hoods too if only our coats had them! (And if only my daughter had on her doudoune, instead of a heavy sweater! How many times had I warned her to bring a warm coat?)
Nagging her the entire way, I finally gave up. This was a mother-daughter weekend, a time to cherish one another and not rip each other apart! The warmth of the underground was a relief and I followed my street-smart tough-skinned daughter farther down into les entrailles of the Italian subway where we caught the metro to the fashion district.
Céline, Georgio Armani, Chanel, Valentino--I can't remember all the designer shops we passed--passing being the key word! It was much wiser to enjoy some window shopping--what the French call faire du lèche-vitrines (literally "window licking")--than to enter those stores. Not that we would be comfortable entering anyway. (I remember being in Paris with Jackie, when I finally assured her it was okay for the two of us to go into a certain fancy and very famous boutique--only to be chided by a saleslady after my daughter lingered too closely at one of the displays. Ill at ease we quickly left the store. And I left behind, at that upscale store, a little bit of my daughter's trust.)
But by the time we got the to luxurious Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele, for more window-licking, our ears were about to fall off like icicles. Stepping into Stefanel, we were warmly welcomed. "Most items in the store are 30-50 percent off," the saleslady said, inviting us in. Noticing a stack of wool bonnets, I quickly decided what my Milan souvenir would be: a warm hat!
And it was indeed chanceuse to have a well-made cap when we left the gallery and hurried along the snowy streets beyond. But, reaching up from time to time to scratch my forehead, I longed for the simple ski hat I'd left behind.
Allez-maman! Come on Mom, let's go! I held on to my daughter's arm as we threaded in and out of the shops, forgetting my scratchy ahead, I was now caught up in the moment instead.
P.S. We easily hailed an Uber car once we were away from the strain station. And we used Uber to get back and forth from our rental apartment to the city center. For as little as $7 per ride, taking an Uber pop cost only $4 more than two metro tickets. I highly recommend this ride-share service. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments box (I know Uber has had some bad publicity), but, if you are like many of us who have actually used the service in France (and now in Milan!) I feel certain you will rave about it too.
Get your Uber discount here!
Get 10 off your first Uber ride when you use this promo code When you use this promo code, I will get credit too--and I definitely want to use Uber next time I travel. All you do is open the Uber app and, presto!, your location pops up on the map (you don't even have to know what street you are on). Next, you will see which cars are available (I chose a 13 euro ride in an Uber pop, over a 38 euro ride in a sedan for our transport back to the train station). The ride fee is charged to your credit card (no exchange of cash. Perfect!) Click here to try Uber and get 10 off your first ride.
And no perks here (for you or for me), but you can click here to see the apartment my daughter and I rented. Don't hesitate to contact Andrea, the owner.
la valise = suitcase
nikel = spotless, spick and span
la doudoune = padded jacket
les entrailles = bowels
le bonnet = ski hat
chanceux, chanceuse = lucky
allez, maman! = come on, Mom
In the cabine d'essayage with my daughter. I will treasure this image forever and am so grateful for the weekend we spent together. If you missed the pictures from our trip, please see them here, in this gallery
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi