Jul 192015

Paris Beauty CrawlHave you ever heard of a “pub crawl”? Or a “food crawl”? If you haven’t, these are little excursions where one can go from place to place, enjoying just a little bit from each, whether it’s drinking, eating, or what have you. I thought it might be fun to put together one possible Parisian beauty crawl  in case that you find yourself in the City of Light with some spare time on your hands. This is one of several possibilities.

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One place to start are the department stores. As I’ve previously discussed, Printemps works well as a starting point and if you are very short on time. They include most major luxury brands, including By Terry, Serge Lutens, Chanel (including all European alternatives), Guerlain, and even MAC. On the second floor is a vast supply of French pharmacy and mid-priced brands, including La Roche Possay, L’Institute Estederm, Leonor Greyl, Nuxe and much more.

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The second floor has all sorts of luxury boutiques. Laduree has a few stands throughout the store for some lovely macarons.


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Our second stop is just down the block is Galleries Lafayette, an equally enormous two-building department store with an incredible beauty floor.

beauty crawl 5 Between these two, I prefer Printemps because it feels more personal and less crowded. However, there is something exciting about immersing yourself  in this glorious space that isn’t to be missed.

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There is so much fragrance, skincare and makeup here, including brands that are hard to find in the U.S. This includes Sisley and a fully staffed Shu Uemura counter.
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Towards the back of the luxury area is a fully stocked MAC counter, as well as many French drugstore makeup brands. This may be as far as your beauty crawl can take you. If one pays any attention to bags, scarves, clothing, and shoes (the shoes! the shoes!!), this can easily fill a day. Don’t forget, Galleries Lafayette has a wonderful food hall upstairs in the Galleries Lafayette men’s building. It’s nice place to take a little break and pick up a mid-day treat.Paris 2If you head toward the Opera Garnier, after passing through you can stop at the Boutique Repetto if you are in the mood for some well-crafted ballet flats. From here, you can head west toward Hermes Rue Faubourg St Honore, or east through the Place Vendome.  


Normally, the Place Vendome is a delightful treat, but currently the area is a bit of a mess because of the Ritz restoration. Even the Guerlain Place Vendome boutique, for which the Guerlain 02 Place Vendome eyeshadow palette (reviewed here) is named, is not open and appears to be under construction. Eventually, this will all be more than fabulous.  Just not today.

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Those with finely attuned Chanel-radar may begin picking up signals that you are mere blocks away from Chanel’s original home and at the 31 Rue Cambon. You might wish to breeze through or at least window shop.

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Glorious things are inside, however do keep your exchange rates in mind.  It’s a treat to purchase something special here in Paris, but realize that you may be paying a premium for doing so.


Afterwards, you can make your way east toward Colette, on the rue St. Honore. This is an eclectic store which stocks things that range from $10 to stratospheric price points. They have an excellent little beauty and fragrance area on the second floor. I guarantee you’ll see things that you’ve never tried before, as well as  friends that include Edward Bess, Topshop, and Replica fragrance.

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Along the rue St. Honore you’ll find plenty of luxury stores to window-shop your heart out. If you are still with me, you can continue to head east toward the Palais Royale, where you can stop into the Serge Lutens Boutique.

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Thankfully, Barneys New York now carries nearly the entire line in the U.S., including the Exclusives. Still, the boutique is gorgeous and worth the treat.

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You will find some fragrance price points lower in the Paris boutique compared to the U.S., by roughly half so long as you are brave enough to pack them carefully for your trip home.

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From here, you are just a hop, skip and a jump away from the by Terry Boutique. Her foundations, skincare, and fragrances are all there for you to try.

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If you are still ready to go, there is just one more jewel to examine–the new Christian Louboutin Beaute boutique. 

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Although we arrived just as the store seemed to close for a leisurely lunch, we were able to look inside at the beautiful Christian Louboutin nail polish display.

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Pure magic, yes?

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Around the corner is the Christian Louboutin shoe boutique. We’ve come all this way, won’t you go just a few dozen more steps to see these gorgeous shoes?

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Of course, this walk may be too much for a single day. Moreover, you’ll want to proceed with caution as Paris is a large city full of all types of people.  I tend to dress quietly and carry my things in a cross-body style bag. Also, keep opening and closing times in mind. Looks like we missed our chance to go inside–heartbreaker!

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As I’ve said elsewhere on Cafe Makeup, generally speaking you will not be saving money by buying in Paris (depending on the exchange rates). In fact, non-French brands (such as MAC and Bobbi Brown) tend to be a bit higher. However, many brands vary their color choice and formula for the European market and there may be treasures you won’t be able to find stateside. Further, if you have a makeover in France, there is a good chance you will see yourself in an entirely different light. For example, a Bobbi Brown artist in France gave me an entirely different (decidedly French) look, compared to the more formulaic application that I had been getting at U.S. Bobbi Brown locations. Do you want to know how French women look that way? Ask a beauty specialist in France and you will begin to learn.

There is so much to do in Paris that this may not be the way you like to spend your time. I can certainly attest that some of my favorite things to do involve going to many of the museums and other sights. A walk along the Seine in the evening, a stroll through the Ile de Saint Louis followed by a look at the Notre Dame and a visit to Shakespeare & Co., the Champs Elysee, going through the shops in Le Marais after a visit to the Centre Pompidou, are perhaps the most uplifting experiences of my trips. Of course, if one can get tickets to the Paris Opera then life is complete. Also, there are a surprising amount of films playing in English (with French subtitles, look for “Version Originale” in the listing for films from the US). So much to do, so little time!

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  18 Responses to “Paris: Beauty Crawl”

  1. This post could not have come at a better time!

    I’m in the process of finalising a trip to Paris in September and I was a bit confuzzled as to how to go about shopping beauty-wise. I love brands like Chanel, Guerlain, NARS but this time I’m on a bit of a budget. So I might not be able to splurge as much as I would want. I have a few questions for you, if you don’t mind answering 🙂

    1) Which brands are an absolute must to try in Paris – (for e.g they’re far cheaper here or you won’t get them anywhere else)

    2) Which brands can I skip buying in Paris?

    3) If I had to spend one afternoon solely for beauty in Paris – what would you recommend I do?

    I love a bit of classic, high-end beauty so I’m hoping to get a few beauty love-affairs started in Paris!

    Thank you for this post!

    PS – I’m not from the States. I live in Asia 🙂

    • What a great time to go to Paris! You must be having a lot of fun planning your trip.

      With only a half-day, I’d concentrate on the two department stores – Printemps and Galleries Lafayette. Between them, you’ll find most lines including the premium, drugstore and pharmacy lines. There are some exceptions, of course. These include Caron (which has a boutique on the Rue Montange). I’d add a Sephora to round things out. I do makeup posts about Parisian shopping, almost annually so please search the posts on this blog. For example, there is a great Make Up For Ever boutique, among other great places.

      If you are on a budget, you might investigate French Pharmacy lines—the prices tend to be lower here compared to other places. Lisa Eldridge (on Youtube) has a few videos about her favorites.

      For color products, if I were you I would focus on those brands which are hard for you to find where you live. I am guessing that the brands that you’ve mentioned are all accessible to you. But that’s a question only you can answer. For example–do you have access to Tom Ford? There’s a counter in the Galleries Lafayette. Armani?? Another great line. Serge Lutens fragrance? Awesome. by Terry? A great French line. A number of the locations that I’ve discussed in this post should be a good start. You’ll have to make some game-time decisions, but isn’t that the fun of it?

      If you are on the Champs Elysee, you might drop into the Guerlain boutique and ask for help choosing your perfect red. I blogged about that boutique here previously.

      I’d skip those brands that are easy to find where you live. I don’t know what prices are like in Asia, unfortunately so I can’t guide you on that one.

      Have fun planning, and of course a wonderful time in Paris!!

      • Thank you so much for such a detailed answer!

        I’m going to go through the archives of all your Paris posts now 🙂 Serge Lutens and Tom Ford are pretty much impossible to get where I live so I think I’m going to make a beeline for them when I get to Paris. Also, MUFE makes my HG foundation so that’s another stop. And thank you for the Guerlain recommendation! I have little to no confidence to pull of a a red, so maybe a visit there might convince me otherwise.

        The thing is, beauty here in India is pretty transactional – you buy things and you walk out. I am hoping to have beauty ‘experiences’ over in Paris – something that I can remember on a bad day. I hope I haven’t expressed myself too badly there! Thank you once again for answering, Amy!

        • Well, Sharon you will have that experience if you really look for it. The counters at Le Bon Marche, and the boutiques, are very friendly particularly especially if you go on a part of the day that is not crowded. I always try to start out in French, if you can, and eye contact and a smile seems to help too.

          If you don’t want a red lipstick, it’s fine–that was just an example of something focused that might be fun and wouldn’t require a large investment.

          • Amy, I loved the red lipstick idea! I’m going to do that for sure. Its not something I would normally do or even think of, so thank you for suggesting it!

            Your posts have been extremely helpful so thank you for taking the time to do this! In fact, I would request you to continue these type of posts for most of the major cities you have travelled to 🙂 Thanks again!

  2. This was so interesting to read and I love how detailed you went into it! I will be in Paris in late August and I definitely am going to book mark this for reference. x


  3. Cool post! I never thought of doing a beauty crawl before but this looks like so much fun. Next time I’m in Paris I might try yours!


  4. I miss Diptyque on that map. Absolutely must when in Paris.

  5. thank you for writing such a great post. I’m going to Paris in September (also) and am interested in getting a makeover perhaps with Dior by terry or chanel. How does one request such a service and what are you expected to purchase or pay for? Also I love serge lutens makeup as well. Is it best to try on at his boutique or in one of the other non serge stores like sephora or galleries Lafayette? Thanks in advance for your help!

    • For Serge Lutens, I would go to the boutique. I’ve asked to try on products, and the sales associate/makeup artist usually offers to try on other products as well which leads to a makeover. I typically purchase around the same as I would at a counter in the States.

  6. thank you again Amy. One more question: citi pharma or is there another drugstore you prefer?

    • Citi is really, really awesome for selection. There are price deals (like multi-pack). To be honest, it’s a little crowded for me personally. I am not as sophisticated at Lisa Eldridge, I’m sure! But when I tried, I found that there were multiple buses that drop off tourists to shop at Citi. The aisles are small. So, if you hit it at the wrong time (as I did) it was very difficult for me to browse.

      I usually choose somewhere quieter. If you are looking for French skincare, you can find them in both pharmacies (with the green cross signs), as well as “parapharmacies” which are basically stores that sell all sorts of drugstore items but not prescription drugs. I’ve had good luck at Parashop stores (which is a chain, I usually go to the one on the Avenue de Opera but they are all around). Also, there is a lovely parapharmacie section of Printemps (upstairs), and also in the BHV (near the Hotel de Ville) (they have a wonderful selection of Bourjois and other drugstore lines).

      Some of the Monoprix have very nice parapharamcies as well.

      So yes Citi is great, but plan to spend a lot of time sorting and to fight the crowds. I went once, but never again. If you are looking for a more leisurely experience then there are plenty of options.

  7. This was fun to read! I was in Paris a year ago in May – my first time. I was determined to go into a pharmacie – I had some locations picked, but ended up just going into a tiny store close to our hotel (near the Eiffel Tower). My husband was not-so-patiently waiting outside, so I just grabbed a few Caudalie sets. Once I figured out what I paid, I saved about $50 on the items, most of which I can buy here in the U.S. Loved them all!

  8. I would also highly recommend the new beauty floor at Le Bon Marché.

  9. I’m planning a September visit as well, thanks fo this fabulous list! Curious your thoughts on duty free….I want some classic black repetto flats and wonder if I should splurge or wait on duty free!

    • Why not see if Repetto can write up your purchase with VAT refund paperwork? Perhaps email them before your trip.

      I don’t know of a Repetto duty free resource, but I may be missing something.

  10. What perfect timing! I am going early October, so this list is tremendously helpful, even the sites you mention at the end! There is so much to see and do in Paris that I’m going to have to visit more than once!

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