My Gay Paris: Marks and Spencer Brings a Taste of Britain to the Champs-Élysées

It might be a classic British brand, rather than a big French name, but the new outpost of Marks & Spencer in a prime location on the Champs-Élysées in the heart of Paris has drawn almost as much attention as the (in)famous launch of the city’s first ever Abercrombie & Fitch earlier this year. This time round, however, there were no topless, muscle-bound men to greet the first shoppers. Not only was it early December, but nudity doesn’t quite fit with the brand image of British staple Marks & Spencer …

Better known for its sensible shirts, affordable knitwear, as well as sandwiches, snacks and other treats, it’s been a household name in Britain for well over a century. The company has been provided comfortable shoes and well-fitting underwear to countless generations in the UK, but the latest branch is by no means its first foray overseas.

Street Protests

Until 2001, the company had over a dozen stores in France, popular both with expats dreaming of favourites from home like shortbread and baked beans and locals keen to add a touch of class. When the company announced its plans to pull out of mainland Europe, they reacted with fury, with angry shoppers marching in the street to express their solidarity with the newly-redundant workers.

Although many regular shoppers vowed at the time never to forget this sign of betrayal, most seemed happy to return—a decade later—to the new branch in the heart of the French capital and are enthusiastic about prospects of more stores arriving soon.

Having tried the first new M & S on the Champs-Élysées ourselves, we must say we’re not too impressed by the mixture of food (not enough!) and womenswear (far too much!) but we hear that the firm is planning some new food-only stores in the near future and we can’t wait! At the meantime, we’ll be stocking up on shortbread and chocolate-chip cookies at the M & S branch in Saint Pancras station, London, before we get the Eurostar—unless any of our guests want to bring us some that is!

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