Oh Say Can You See

I have a friend from the States who discovered that he could buy glasses in Paris and not only could he get the frames, he could get the lenses made in Paris as well, with only a 24 hour wait. Back home he had stylish new glasses that reminded him of Paris every time he put them on to read. I looked into this and found that glasses shops in Paris often sell frames to Americans who take them home to get lenses put in. Having lenses made in Paris isn’t done as often but is no problem. A simple prescription can be finished in 24 hours, but 3 to 4 days is required for more complex requirements such as bifocals. As in the States, none of this is very inexpensive. My sister, Dianne, came to visit me in Paris, bringing along her sister-in-law, Lynn. As we were walking down a little street near my apartment, we passed an optometrist and I told them about my friend. We decided to pop in for a look at the different frames, as well as to see what sunglasses were for sale. Almost immediately my sister found some sunglasses that she couldn’t live without, a pair of Gucci’s. They probably weren’t that much cheaper than if she’d bought them in the States, but with the VAT tax refunded (12%) they seemed like a deal to her. Lynn wears glasses all of the time but she settled on a pair of cute sunglasses by a French designer. Even though she had to have her prescription glasses to walk down the street, she decided to get them anyway. About this time the manager of the store spotted us. Being an astute man, he knew born shoppers when he saw them and approached us just as we were getting ready to leave. “Would you like to see some really fabulous frames I just received today? They are designer glasses, sold only in France and we are one of four stores in Paris selling them.” Of course we said yes. He pulled out a box of frames in colors ranging from coral to rust, and held one up. I thought that they were rather bizarre looking, like something Picasso might have dreamed up. Lynn loved them. She tried them on and decided she must have a pair. Because her lenses were not simple prescriptions, they wouldn’t be ready for three days. I was a little shocked that she decided to get them as they were very expensive, about 500 Euros; with the lenses done, another 200 Euros was added to the price. She would get the VAT back, but still. I heard later that when she wore the glasses to her work at a bank, she got comments all of the time on how much everyone liked them. We went to visit the countryside before she picked up her glasses but she and my sister did have their sunglasses. While in Provence, with the sun blindingly bright, Lynn wore her new sun glasses even though she couldn’t see that well. Going up the stairs of a chateau, she tripped and fell. Did she worry about hurting herself? No, the sunglasses had fallen on the ground and her first comment wasn’t, “My knee!” it was, “My sunglasses!” (This is why I always buy glasses costing no more than 10 to 15 Euros. I don’t feel so devastated if I lose or break them.) About six months later my sister called me, laughing. “Remember those designer glasses that Lynn bought?” Of course I did. Who could forget? “She called me last night and said, “Turn on the TV to the Oscars!” Dianne did and there was Robin Williams presenting an Oscar while wearing Lynn’s frames. Yes, Lynn and Robin Williams had the same taste in glasses. How often in life do you get to say that sentence? Most opticians can put your prescription lenses in your glasses. Two shops that are nice to deal with are: Geraldine Carfield10, rue de Buci, 75006Telephone: 01 43 26 28 25 Caroline Joo2, rue des Archives, 75004or 50, rue de Rivoli, 75001Telephone: 01 48 87 30 95 Linda Mathieu, formerly from Austin, Texas, is a professional journalist and photographer. Owner of Paris Photo Tours, she delights in taking tourists around Paris, showing them her favorite views and photo ops. She is currently at work on a book of her photography with a light-hearted look at Paris.
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