Have 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.
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.
The second floor has all sorts of luxury boutiques. Laduree has a few stands throughout the store for some lovely macarons.
Our second stop is just down the block is Galleries Lafayette, an equally enormous two-building department store with an incredible beauty floor.
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.If 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are still ready to go, there is just one more jewel to examine–the new Christian Louboutin Beaute boutique.
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.
Pure magic, yes?
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?
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!
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!