I didn't think shopping got any better than finding the things that you actually need to buy reduced to a price that you can actually afford, but I was wrong.
On Sunday afternoon, Mr A and I decided to put off marking and writing reports by going to the big out of town Carrefour that we had seen on the way out of Milan the day before. He was hoping that the biggest supermarket around would have an alternative to Robinson's Special R squash and possibly some Cheddar cheese. I was hoping for a Gallic shopping experience that would allow me to wallow in nostalgia on a cold and rainy afternoon.
Mr A, unfortunately, was disappointed. If anybody knows where to buy sugar-free diluting juice in Italy, please let me know. My wishes, on the other hand, were fulfilled beyond anything I could ever have hoped for.
We thought we were only going to the supermarket, but it turned out to be in a shopping centre called Milano Fiori, which is next to the Datch forum as you leave Milan on the motorway. We were strolling along among the usual range of high-street chain stores when I saw it. The familiar pink and purple frontage. The white lettering. It was Camaieu.
I interrupted whatever Adam was saying about Robinson's squash and cheddar cheese. I grabbed his hand and dragged him towards the shop. I may have kissed him in delight a couple of times on the way. At some point, he realised that all this excitement was utterly genuine and looked slightly stunned.
Camaieu is my favourite clothes shop in the world but I'm not totally sure why I like it so much. The clothes are not that good quality and I once even cut my finger on a zip on one of their skirts. Nevertheless, I love that shop. Last time I was in France, I went at least four times to two different stores. I know where Camaieu is in St Quentin, La Défense, Compiègne, Nancy and Nice. Somehow or other, they make clothes that I like with the added impression of buying into a little bit of French chic on the way. It may be psychological, but I always find clothes that I like in Camaieu.
And they have shops in Italy. I am happy.