Sometimes the differences in French and American ways of doing things just seem to pop out of nowhere and bite you where it counts. I really was not prepared for the fact that it is virtually impossible to purchase an empty gift box anywhere in Paris. (I am hedging a bit here because although I am worn out from tromping all over town following false leads, I’m quite confident that some savvy reader is going to set me straight. Quite frankly, I hope they do. It won’t help me at the moment but I’ll take the tip for later.)
Why? Because when you buy anything in a nice shop in Paris, the clerk pretty much always asks if it is for a gift. If you say yes, he or she will then pull out the tissue, the special stickers, the gift bag, the ribbon, and that little something you just bought suddenly becomes a work of art. If you say no, you’d better not be thinking “I’ll just wrap it myself,” because gift wrapping supplies are either a) low quality, b) extremely expensive, c) boring or d) all of the above.