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Back from two weeks in Toulouse and Bordeaux with some observations regarding footwear. I finally broke down and bought a pair of Weston 180s in dark brown and must say I am very impressed. Keeping the shoes in drawers instead of on display does strike me as a bit odd, but the drawers were very nice! The sizing is indeed unusual - I take a 10C to 10.5C and ended up with a Weston 8C (also marked as size 10C US). I dealt with the manager of the Bordeaux shop and she was very helpful. I tried on about a half dozen sizes before we decided on the best fit. I had heard stories about Westons being difficult to break in, but after wearing them for the first time yesterday, I didn't seem to have any problems. I will now have to return for a black pair and the split toe laceup. There must have been about eight or nine versions of the 180 loafer available including a dark brown suede, and the ones the manager referred to as "les reptiles". Those might be an acquired taste - although the navy blue loafer didn't look half bad.

The shoe trees, which I felt obliged to buy, are also very nice, as they should be for 60€. At least they are individually sized. I picked up a bottle of shoe cream as well for 12€, but the best deal had to be the Saphir "pate de luxe" polish down the street at Bejottes - a kitchen/hardware store, of all places. I picked up half a dozen of these for 2,30€ each. I understand the Weston is simply rebranded Saphir, but why not go for the whole kit (although they could have thrown in a shoe horn as Alden always does!).

Across the street at Paraboot, I was reassured that all models are still made in France, including the boat shoes which at about 120€ compete favourably with the Sebagoes from offshore. Of particular interest was a cordovan version of the Avignon for 500€. It really looked appealing, but I was able to resist.

Crockett & Jones and Church's were also well represented in both cities, although I only recall seeing Lobbs in Toulouse. No difficulty finding a Weymouth here! I am always surprised to see Church's in "fashion" stores (I suppose it's the Prada influence) since I always associate them with the "Dack's" stores here in Canada that sold them and to which I would sometimes accompany my father when he was buying shoes when I was a youngster. Definitely not what one would consider fashionable. Both Church's and Crockett & Jones were priced in the 450-500€ range. I suppose this makes Church's a bargain as they seemed to have a price premium in the U.K.

I visited Loding in Toulouse as well, after seeing it mentioned here. I realized I had been in the shop in Paris, but something didn't click with the styles - a little too "modern". The shirts were attractive, but French shirts always have sleeves too short for me (I bought some Alain Figaret for gifts, but have not tried them myself - they are supposed to have a longer length available).

Seeing as Weston offers various widths, and their prices are competitive or better than Church's and C&J, they seem to be a good value, relatively speaking. The leather quality seems very high - perhaps there is something to the in-house tanning process.

I was impressed with both areas and especially enjoyed the tour of the Airbus factory and seeing the A380 being assembled - truly amazing. The tourist office in Bordeaux is exceptional and offer a plethora of tours all from their office. I always enjoy visiting France and look forward to my next trip (with another pair of shoes to commemorate the trip!)