French people don’t treat shopping like a simple way to pass the time or even a hobby; they have elevated shopping to an art. 

There is initial pondering about who will be chosen to accompany them on this special outing. You might be lucky enough to get the call to go “lecher les vitrines,” crudely translated as licking the storefront windows. One must carefully pick the right outfit, careful not to wear the one you had on the last time, and wrap the foulard or scarf a couple of times around the neck. At the pre-affixed time, you will meet, kiss both cheeks and start the wandering around the city. There are always the favorite shops that attract your attention, like magnets. It is all so familiar and new at the same time. You spot the most recent products in a flash and congregate around the shelves, touching, smelling, trying on, and after the official approval of your companions, you gift yourself that little something you will carry in the shop bag the rest of the day. It shows you are the real thing! You are the serious shopper: the more bags, the better. 

No store is left unexplored. You do not want to miss a chance of finding the one perfect purse, pair of shoes, or piece of jewelry. Genders do not make any difference in the experience. Couples find an intimacy in expressing their interests and choices. Children are used to the outing and are promised a crepe if they behave. 

There are two important stops that always promise discoveries: the bookstore and the perfumery. Both explode with scents, tranquility and passion. Shopkeepers are eager to give advice, share novelties, and they become your newest friend for just a little while. Then comes the magical moment when you leave the shop with your treasure! All around you agree you made the right choice.

Some windows are there for pure enchantment, as at the florist overflowing on the outside steps. It is easy to be tempted with a small bouquet of mimosa in the early winter, tulips or hyacinths. The season dictates the offerings and it becomes a tradition to bring blooms home to enjoy all week long. A promise of what will come the following Saturday. The chocolatier is another delight for the eyes, with rows of dainty temptations. You do not need anything in the antique store, yet it beckons you with its smell of wax and dust as you enter. The space is charged with memories and the enveloping silence. The shopkeeper is nowhere to be seen, leaving you free to explore and marvel. 

Even the pharmacy is worth a quick (or long) visit. The medical, clean environment reminds you to refill on aspirin, but the real inspiration comes from all the beauty products on immaculate shelves. The pharmaceutical assistant counsels you based on your detailed explanations of what ails your skin and you leave with something that will change your bedtime routine. 

A Saturday outing is not complete unless you indulge in a café sit down. More often than not, friends will walk by and join you for an impromptu visit. Chairs are gathered around the table and the day finishes with promises of a future dinner together. By now, the sun is setting on calmer streets, lights turn on in windows and the last hurried parents rush home with hungry children. A baguette is sticking out of a stroller, leeks hanging from a basket, shopping bags balancing on arms. What a good day!

We all can live this experience in Denver. Small neighborhoods welcome us with unique and curated wares and strolling in our Colorado weather is magical. No plane travel necessary.