Read a lot about Catherine Max being this fabulous Parisian discount store. Well, not so much. Maybe they have events there where they cart in better stuff. Or maybe it’s just the August thing. But I can only review the store as I experienced it, which was very, very disappointing. It was more like a Marshall’s in the U.S. And a very bad Marshall’s, at that. Not a single piece of clothing I was even tempted to try on, and it was a pretty big store. Hardly any selection. Dowdy, cheap clothing and not designer, either, other than some nice Ralph Lauren shoes which were still way more expensive than they’d be at TJ Maxx in the States. Nothing that I would even consider giving as a gift. That bad. Not worth my time at all. In fact, I resent having wasted the time. I had read online that you needed to pay 20E for a membership to get in the door, but they didn’t charge me. Wow, would I be mad to pay $35 US for that lousy experience.
Rue Meslay in the 3rd (just barely) was a bit better. I started at the St. Martin end of the street, which was full of cheap shoes. Really, I’ve never seen so many shiny shoes anywhere. Sparkly. Bright colors. Patent leather. With bags to match, :(. Store after store of them, mostly discounted. Maybe 30 shoe stores in all on this street, and it’s also narrow, so you can easily cross over to both sides. If you’re a fan of cheap shoes, this is the place to go. (Personally, I hate cheap shoes.) However, as you get closer to the Republique’ end of this street, the shoes start getting better. Nothing fabulous, but in the middle range. After six weeks of desperately trying, I finally found a pair of sandals that doesn’t hurt my feet after many hours of walking. Very nice salesman with excellent English helped me at Orcel, #7 Rue Meslay. Patiently pulled shoes from me, was low pressure and honest about the fit. Clucked sympathetically about the scabs on my ankles from my shoes rubbing them raw. When we were done, I said in French, “My feet thank you!” and he said my French was very good. Which it isn’t, but I did score some points for being both pleasant and attempting it. He asked where I was from and asked if I had a house there. He then jokingly asked if there were room for him, and I said, “sure!” jokingly right back. Unlike many of the men in Paris, he understood it was a joke.
My recommendation on Rue Meslay would be to start at the end which runs off Republique and go about 5 stores up on either side, not bothering with the stores near Saint-Martin. Then grab a coffee or have a drink on Place de Republique’, one of my favorite places in Paris for people watching.