Every trip to Paris must end sometime, and most U.S. residents leave the city via one of the airports. I’ve flown in and out of Charles de Gaulle airport several times, and even stayed overnight in the Sheraton hotel located inside the terminal. One thing I will say about this airport–my experiences have varied vastly based on the airline and the terminal. This last time, I flew Air France out of Terminal 2E. What an incredibly organized, pleasant experience in comparison to others that I had in the past.
So, back to makeup. As many international travelers know, after emerging from security there are a vast number of choices and stores for alcohol, tobacco, souvenirs, perfumes and makeup that await you just before you go to the gate. At Charles de Gaulle, the lines that are carried include Chanel, Guerlain, Lancome, Serge Lutens, Clinique, Dior and a variety of others.
Here are some pointers:
- If you want genuine products at a discount, here’s your chance. Bring your math skills (or at least a calculator) if you are hoping to save some money.
- Here are some examples of the savings:
- Chanel products were several dollars less than U.S. prices, even with the conversion of dollar-to-Euro. For example, a Chanel Glossimer was 19 euro’s, which converts to $25. In the U.S., Glossimers sell for $27.00 plus tax.
- L’Eau Serge Lutens fragrance was priced at 90 euros (which converts to $116.10 U.S.). It sells for 100 Euros ($129) in Paris at Galeries Lafayette. It is priced at $150 on Barney’s U.S. website.
- Guerlain’s Meteorites Voyage compact sells for $170.00 in the U.S. At the duty free store, it was priced at 100 euros ($129). It sells for 125 euros ($161.00) in stores in Paris.
- At the duty free store, you do not need to get involved with the paperwork and delay involved in getting a VAT tax refund, described here. There is no minimum purchase. You just pay the lower price, take your sealed bag and go.
- The duty free stores have wonderful little gift sets and palettes. For example, Guerlain had some adorable little blush, eyeshadow and eyeliner kits that fit together with sliding parts that were both clever and beautiful. Guerlain also had a three-pack of mini-meteorites (the older style) packaged with a brush in a gift box. There are multi-packs of mascaras, lipsticks and glosses that were money savers, as well as nice gifts.
- You must have your boarding pass with you to purchase products. I do not know how you ever would get through security without one, but if you are asking a family member to hold yours for you, get it back before you purchase.
- There is no option to shop around–each terminal has one or two stores maximum. If the store is out of stock on an item that you want, you are out of luck. I got the last Guerlain Voyage Meteorite compact, for example.
- You will not typically find special, limited edition products at these stores. Looking for Estee Lauder’s Tom Pencheux’s very exclusive sets? Cutting edge products like Tom Ford’s lipsticks? Not going to happen. Also, the Serge Lutens display had about ten fragrances, which is fewer than compared to the twenty or so that the department stores carry.
- Most of the core products for each line seemed to be on display. Testers for the Chanel Joues Contraste blushes (Euro version), eyeshadow quads, glossimers and lipsticks (Rouge Allure and Rouge Coco) were all ready to go. Whether or not they boxed products, ready to sell and in stock is a good possibility but not an absolute certainty.
- Service is multilingual. Obviously, these stores are built for convenience and not for make-overs or detailed beauty advice, so plan accordingly.
The amount that you save depends on the exchange rate; a rate that changes daily. I locked in my rate for my purchase, because the store offered to allow me to purchase in U.S. dollars. I also saved a bit on currency exchange fees that way.
Keep in mind that several terminals have other types of boutiques. For example, Le Printemps had a micro-store, as did Hermes. By the way, the Hermes scarves were of a limited selection, but priced at 240 euros for the standard size (compare this with the 280 euros in the Parisian boutique).