Tag Archives: Paris

The French Pharmacie: Beauty List

There’s one last stop you must make before leaving Paris – la pharmacie. Forget Sephora, the department store beauty counter doesn’t hold a candle to the everyday French pharmacy. The ones in Paris are extraordinary, but even small town ones will stock all of your must-have beauty essentials – products you can only get in France, and at an incredible value. Here were a few beauty buys on my list:

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ACorsCoryse Salomé – Compétence Anti-Age – Crème pour les mains – 100 ml – 9€

Life in London wreaks havoc on your skin, so I’m constantly slathering on this hand cream for dry skin. I once read a hand model say she avoids washing her hands except in the morning and night since it’s so damaging to the skin, but I work in an office so I have to wash mine often to fend off bugs circulating in the workplace. Therefore, I keep a tube of this on my desk and use repeatedly throughout the day. It is especially soothing around the nailbeds.

BembroEmbryolisse Laboratoires – Lait Crème Concentré – 13€

This is right up there with the best luxury brand moisturizers I’ve tried. Whisper-light and instantly restorative – a travel bag staple.

BBioBiotherm – Intensive Body Treatment with Apricot Oil – 23.99€

The apricot oil in this lotion leaves my legs polished and shiny – they actually gleam.

BBiodermaBioderma Laboratoire Dermatologique – Créaline H2O – 23.90€ (for twin pack)

This skin cleanser/make-up remover is phenomenal. And so cheap! Dab a few drops on a cotton pad and it strips every last speck of dirt and trace of cosmetics from your skin. It feels like water, but leaves your face squeaky clean.

BKloraneKlorane – Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oatmilk – 7€

A gym bag essential. Also great for beachy hair – squeeze the plastic bottle and spray little puffs of this powder onto lifeless or greasy hair. Leave on 2 minutes then brush through. Clean, conditioned hair with a little bit of volume at the roots.

BAvenmasqEau Thermale Avène – Soothing Moisture Mask – 10€

Soothing, indeed – with a slight firming effect, leaves skin dewy. Apply to face, leave on for 10 minutes, then lightly mist face with Avène Eau Thermale (see below).

BAveneAvène – Eau Thermale – 5€

Sourced from a thermal spring, this water spray is full of minerals which soften and sooth skin. Spritz it on by the pool in the summer heat for a tingly refresh. I would recommend using it after waxing or shaving.

BBiaBiafine Topical Emulsion €

Biafine works with the body’s own natural healing processes to treat compromised skin through macrophage recruitment. I don’t normally get sunburn, but I am highly susceptible to heat rash (prickly heat) on my neck and chest – this cream is great for soothing burns and can clear up redness and bumps. I also dab on the occasional boo-boo as it helps little cuts and scrapes heal faster.

BhomeoHomeoplastine – 5.30€

Vanquish dry and chapped skin – great for refurbishing elbows and heels. I also use to lessen redness around my nose.

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If you’re traveling by plane, check to make sure products aren’t over the carry-on size. There are no restrictions on the Eurostar that I know of – so go nuts!

Sunday Picnic in Paris

Don’t go to Paris on a Sunday. Don’t waste your time. Why bother? None of the Parisians do – everything is closed (at least the authentic bits are). The only places where people show up to work on a Sunday are the Louvre and the d’Orsay. I wouldn’t deign to step foot in either. The queues are an English person’s heaven – lampoonish queues – literally queues without an end in sight. Hey, I love art probably more than the next guy, but I am so over cold, cavernous galleries and corridors filled with the same plundered antiquities. Frankly, it’s a bore and it has been for some time. Those limp hoards queuing for hours don’t know what they’re looking at once they’re in. It’s a mess.

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As long as the weather was going to hold out for us, we were determined to take Paris by foot and cover as much ground as we could. After a prolonged roam through the Latin Quarter trying to seek out a mind-blowing petit déjeuner when everyplace was closed, we settled for a cafe across from St. Sulpice on the corner of Rue des Canettes. It was all locals. We ordered an emmantel omelette to share – but our garçon informed us they were already sold out of the croissants we’d desperately been craving. “You slept too long,” he told us. Touché.

The sights of Paris gleamed a little bit brighter after a strong coffee had awakened our senses.

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We took in the ancient streets and alleys, the monumental architecture, the views from the Sienne, and a few artisan vendors who graced us with their sheer availability to conduct business. Here’s a run down of our foodie finds:

a gooey pot of St Marcellin from the Marché Saint-Germain

a gooey pot of St Marcellin from the Marché Saint-Germain

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Warm baguette and artichoke quiche from Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger

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And an assortment of fresh salads from the sweetest lady at deli-of-the-gods Le Traiteur on Rue Saint-Dominique.

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Oh, everyone should go here! Treat yourself to everything. Then go picnic on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower and feel fully and completely indulged.

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It was a wicked whirlwind of a weekend, but by the end of it I was a bullet in the chamber, ready to be shot back across the English Channel.

An exciting week ahead in London – stay tuned!

Weekend in Paris: Day 1

I’m not a Paris-y girl. I can admit Paris is beautiful, it’s clean, the French are actually so much more pleasant than they are depicted in cartoons. I can see why it is the most popular tourist destination in the world. Everyone loves Paris. I guess it’s that I never know what I’m looking for there – the food is superb, the shopping is world-class, the cityscape views are ridiculously romantic. It just seems almost too easy. There’s no need to explore off the grid, no reason to trek off the beaten path in search of some little-known hidden gem. It seems to me, the best of Paris has already been discovered.

Paris was the rendezvous point for me and my good friend – a journalist who’s been living in Cairo for several months; she was desperate for a European citybreak. I slinked onto the Eurostar with two changes of clothes in my weekend bag, and arrived two hours later at Gare du Nord.

Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais is a gem, though anything but hidden. Fantastically located in the Marais district, it occupies the lovely little Rue Vielle du Temple just off Rue de Rivoli. As soon as you cross the threshold it’s like stepping back into Old World Paris. I love all the charming period details. And how quaint that the room key is actually a key (rather than a key card) which you leave and pick up from reception whenever you come and go!

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hotelliftCutest upholstered lift in Paris

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It was time for a girlie debrief and we both needed to wet our whistles with a little of the good stuff, so a table on the terrace of Tresor was a perfect nearby place to escape the light drizzle. A bottle of chardonnay and a plat du fromage was our first taste of Paris.

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The shopping in Paris is insane. It overwhelms me – in a magical way. For high-end Parisian design and tailoring (not to mention accessories) there is only one destination – L’Eclaireur. The vibe here is artsy, futuristic, conceptual – but the clothes are classic, structured, and strikingly feminine. What hangs on the rails here is transformative – these pieces will literally transform you.

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For shades, I recommend Marcel Bihan Opticien. They stock so many fun and funky brands, you’re sure to find a pair that will really stand out from the Sunglass Hut mediocrity. I was partial to these round beauts by Linda Farrow for The Row, and these oversized tortoiseshell cat-eye Karen Walkers.

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For high street fashion, check out the quirky Eleven Paris. Their tag line is “Life is a joke,” though their designs are anything but. I snagged this sleeveless graphic tee with floral cross for 39€.

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With our chip and pin cards all warmed up, we headed over to the glitzy Beaubourg district for dinner at Hôtel Costes. Sure, it’s sceney and the cocktails are over-priced and the food isn’t exactly haute cuisine – but it’s stylish and moody and, like all good things in Paris, it is tried-and-true.

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After our meal, we took one of Ladan’s friends up on an invite to the closing party of Pompon on Rue des Petites Écuries. It was bonkers. It seemed like everyone wanted to be there. Ian the bartender welcomed us with some fiery shots called Kalashnikovs.

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We lingered for a bit with some fellow DC ex-pats, then left to get some air and stopped by Le Baron for a cocktail. It wasn’t as crazy and raw as it was depicted in the opening scene of “Little White Lies”, but it was unarguably Parisian. Go here for the music, they know what sounds good. Great place to get silly and dance!

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Well, Paris, it isn’t love – and it surely won’t last – but if I’ve learned one thing from you, it’s that a time-tested classic never goes out of style.