I am back in Paris, but just for a few days. After that I'll be gone until mid-September.
Arriving at the airport this morning, I was struck by all the signs in English warning against bringing in counterfeit goods.
The signs were sprinkled along the wall as we stood waiting to go through immigration-- I wonder if the customs agents, watching from behind the one-way mirrors that lined the hall, took a special interest in me because I was staring at them.
Just a couple of days ago I was sitting at a table with an expat blowhard bragging about his counterfeit Rolexes and Tod's shoes from Beijing. My mother-in-law had a fake Rolex that she bought in Hong Kong-- it looked just like a real one to my inexperienced eyes, and worked perfectly.
But in France, counterfeits are a major threat not only to French luxury companies' sales but to their good name-- because the fake wares are usually low-quality. In China, the counterfeiting of all kinds of goods, from "antique Ming" porcelain and "Han dynasty pottery" to "Prada" purses and "iPhones," has become a major industry. Some of the fakes are created by the same factories and workers that make the real ones. Some even proudly label themselves as "100% guaranteed knockoff" or "Replica Louis Vuitton." Many are just shoddy, using inferior materials, and any sharp-eyed person can tell the difference. Either way, French customs will treat this offense severely if you are caught. So watch out! Don't bring that pink "Dior" bag from eBay or that cute "Chanel" t-shirt from Etsy into France. Vous risquez gros!*
Sorry it's blurry. Also, to me, that should be "You'd better..." Mais bon.
Did you know there's a counterfeit museum in Paris? It shows the real objects and then the counterfeits, explaining how you can tell the difference. Quite an education for the consumer.
*You run a big risk.