Made in France, not
What a new love of shopping malls says about French society
WITH polished stone floors and a plate-glass roof, a shimmering multi-storey shopping mall has just opened beside a motorway north of Paris. Named Qwartz, and costing 300m ($510m), it houses 165 shops and what developers call “eating concepts”. Two other American-style shopping malls opened in the greater Paris region last year, and a third, So Ouest, in 2012. A country that prides itself on chic designer boutiques and artisanal shops seems to be turning into one of mall rats.
Partly this is just catching up. Until recently, strict planning rules stopped big out-of-town shopping centres around the French capital. Most malls that existed, such as Vélizy 2 or Rosny 2, dated from the 1970s, when five new towns were built in the Paris suburbs. But a new relaxed attitude has now let more modern projects go ahead.
这种现象的一部分原因是赶时髦。截至最近，法国首都严格的计划规则将大型外来购物中心拒之门外。大多数像Vélizy 2 或 Rosny 2那样的购物街是从上世纪70年代就在巴黎存在了，那时正值巴黎城郊新建了五个小镇。但是一个新的随意态度让更多现代项目得以进行。
It also points to two features of French society that escape the gaze of historic Paris. One is most shoppers' suburban way of life. Only 2.2m people live in the capital itself. Yet the greater Paris region, excluding the city, counts over four times more inhabitants, many in small towns and car-dependent suburbs. The new malls, ringed by car parks, are handy, even alluring. Fully 62% of the French told one poll that malls were their favourite places to shop, ahead of the high street or traditional department stores.
The other trend is the global taste of consumers. Besides a huge French hypermarket, Qwartz's big pull is Primark, an Irish cheap-fashion retailer, and Marks & Spencer, a British chain. Just down the road, So Ouest boasts Hollister, an American surfwear brand, Starbucks, an American coffee house, and ubiquitous foreign fashion chains such as H&M (Swedish) and Zara (Spanish). In today's temples of consumption, global is a la mode.
另一个流行趋势是全球顾客的品味。除了一个大型法国大规模超级市场，Qwartz主要是由爱尔兰的廉价流行零售店Primark和英国连锁Marks & Spencer来支撑。在So Ouest 购物中心的尽头，充斥着美国冲浪服品牌Hollister和美国咖啡屋Starbucks，还有无处不在的外国流行连锁店如H&M（瑞典），还有Zara（西班牙）。在如今消费圣殿里，全球化正大行其道。
This is not quite the France favoured by Arnaud Montebourg, the industry minister and architect of a “Made in France” campaign. He is now trying to keep American hands off Alstom, the French maker of TGV fast trains. He once posed cheerfully for a magazine, dressed in a striped Breton top and holding a Moulinex food-blender.
Yet even French brands are not always home-made, as Benjamin Carle, a reporter, discovered filming a television documentary about his efforts to live for a year using only products made in France. The result was comic—and sobering. Not only was it impossible to find some items, including a fridge and coffee. Mr Carle initially had to empty his flat of anything that did not meet the test of 50% of its value being made in France. Out went the bicycle, computer, guitar, most of the furniture, beer, clothes, toothbrush and more. The share of his stuff that qualified as French-made? Just 4.5%.