(The Basement of BHV Department Store)
[luh SUE-sole duh Bay-Aash-Vay]
My dream-come-true work assignment in Paris came with unexpected “homework.” Totally competent with a full life in the San Francisco Bay Area, transposing my patterns to another culture, however similar, presented daily assignments in culture gaps.
I had barely moved to Paris for a corporate consulting assignment when the dollar began to decline – rapidly (Bush Administration policy…). Paid in American dollars, which I exchanged into fewer and fewer euros, finding little economies became more and more important. Hmmm…why not hand-wash some of my clothes in my apartment’s sink and hang them up to dry in the kitchen and bathroom?
– 1 clothesline
– 24 clothespins
Where to purchase? A well-stocked hardware store! But I had not seen one in my neighborhood near the Louvre Museum…
I asked a couple of neighbors and found complete agreement: BHV, 4 rue du Temple near rue de Rivoli, in the heart of old Paris.
BHV was so big it was shown on my pocket map of Paris, at once reassuring and also a little bit intimidating! A Metro stop was right beside it, Hotel de Ville, essentially City Hall.
It was an easy Metro ride, quite crowded because it was Saturday and the destination was popular among both Parisians and tourists.
Once inside the store, fashion was on display everywhere: the latest jeans, jackets, boots, scarves…but a clothesline? Where might I find “…une corde a ligne”? The clerks in apparel were much too busy to ask. Their eyes were focused on the lines of customers they were serving. Eventually, I found a store directory which revealed the basement [le sousol] as my destination.
As I made my way down the stairs, I entered a time warp: From high fashion of the twenty-first century, I found myself in narrow, crowded aisles; bins of nuts, bolts, screws; telephones and telephone jacks and so much, much, much more. In the heat of beautiful Paris, I had found the hardware store of my childhood.
I wandered for an hour or more, learning French words for many useful gadgets, and eventually found my clothesline and clothespins.
From that day on, whenever I was in the area, I explored more of the sousol of the BHV. My husband felt very much at home there, far away from the demands of le dernier cri or the latest fashion “must have.” It made the “must see” list for any guys who came to visit us. None of them was bored: see for yourself – www.bhv.fr. And add it to your sightseeing itinerary. You will not be disappointed.