Lat week I was in a small town in France and when my friend and I decided not to go out to dinner (too tired); we popped into a small department store to pick up a boxed dinner. A major difference here between US and French and English shops is that a small department store may well be a grocer and a variety store - and I do mean a moderately nice store too.
While she was grocery shopping, I was observing the rest of the store which was divided down the middle - half stockings, hair goods and make up and the other half very nice silk scarves, cashmere sweaters, gloves, shoes, coats and the like.
Back to the stockings - this was a major department and clearly important to the local women as there were more than four aisles of stockings in all weaves, colors, and textures with generous samples attached for trial. In addition to this were socks and leggings but not as many. Clearly, this small town has a female population who dresses and pays attention to their apparel. I was impressed.