Thursday, 17 January 2013
Proute-proute: adjective describing a stuck-up person. The word "proute" also refers to the sound made by the passing of intestinal gas. As this is a family blog, we will leave it to our readers to deduce the connection.
What do you think of when you picture a stereotypical Parisian man? Baguettes, berets and bicycles aside, some of the images that spring to mind may have at least a little grain of truth in them. While generalising is dangerous, especially when it comes to people, fastidious dressing and grooming seem to be more of the norm in this city that anywhere else I've ever lived. In the past 4 years, I've seen more designer stubble and more shiny leather shoes worn at weekends than in the rest of my lifetime, while the number of men I know who iron their underwear has taken an infinite leap (from zero to, well, some).
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of discovering where this particular breed of Parisian man buys his grooming products. Le Comptoir de l'homme is the dream of the serious dandy: a neat boutique where Acqua di Parma and men's moisturisers stand in immaculate rows on the gleaming black and silver shelves and where a charming parisienne of a certain age will analyse monsieur's skin type and recommend an appropriately pricey product.
There's only one arrondissement of Paris that could so appropriately house such a tiny but chic establishment. In a world where there's an H&M and a McDonald's on the Champs Elysees, it's the 6th that truly embodies the Paris of small, independent shops employing expert salespeople to cater for every specialist need of which we all have a notion tucked away in our subconscious.
By circumstance rather than definite choice, I tend to be more of a rive droite girl, and much of this area was fairly new to me. And I don't just mean the geography. Never had I been so aware of being surrounded by classically Parisian Parisians. Chic gentlemen aside, you haven't truly experienced les parisiens until you have watched chic women who clearly do all their food shopping in L'Epicerie du Bon Marche and look as though they haven't smiled for decades tottering down the street on their high heels and smoking cigarettes in actual cigarette holders.
So we felt some amusement when we rounded the corner and came across this shop:
I snapped a quick photo, then we headed back to the proletarian districts, which is where I, at least, clearly belong.