For the final post on my series on the Paris Beauty Tour I offer you the piece de resistance...Galeries Lafayette. For any serious shopper a trip to Paris is NOT complete without a stop at this mega Department Store; its like visiting New York and going to Bergdorf Goodman. You can even do all of your souvenir shopping here and head to their dedicated tax refund office (if you spend over 176Euro in the same store on the same day you receive a 12% refund on your purchases) so you can avoid the long lines at the airport.
As part of the Paris Beauty Tour we got a VIP beauty tour of Galeries Lafayette; that's our group entering through the VIP entrance and receiving a VIP Guest card, which extended a discount to us through the rest of 2014.
That neon sign hanging from the beautiful Galeries Lafayette stained glass ceiling changes regularly. For Christmas an Christmas Tree will be hung upside down and a Noel Monster will decorate the ceiling.
We had a private session with Dior Beauty where we learned about some of the exclusive scents available only in Paris.
We met with the lead rep from Sisely who shared with us that the company is still family owned, a common theme in the French Beauty industry. Each counter we visited had prepared gifts for us including deluxe samples of their most popular products.
Our rep from YSL talked to us about the most popular makeup shades worn by French women... bright red for the lips and dark black around the eyes. We all left Paris wanting to wear thick lines of kohl eyeliner.
My hands down favorite beauty counter we visited on our VIP tour was L'Artisan Parfumeur. We learned about all of their intoxicating scents as well as their unique amber balls. I found my signature scent here...can you guess what it is? (Leave your guess in the comments)
Galeries Lafayette allows upcoming designers to showcase their pieces in Labo Mode (Style Lab) and if they are successful they will get their own in-house boutique. I wanted to blow all of my cash on some of these pieces...imagine buying a Marc Jacobs piece when he was an unknown!
There is even a museum inside of the grand magasin. Its a peaceful place to rest in between shopping and there are some great tongue-in-cheek art pieces featuring fashion and household items.
And then there is the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette with its specatular views of Sacre Coeure, the Paris Opera House and the Eiffel Tower.
We were very lucky to be visiting Galeries Lafayette on the week their foodcourt and homegoods store was opening. These were previously two separate stores, but have now been combined into a massive department store of their own filled with macaron stands, sit down restaurants and counters to buy everything from fresh butter and loose spices to knifes and ceramic dishes. There was even a stiletto made of chocolate!
One of the most emotional moments of the Paris Beauty Tour was when I had just arrived, jet lagged and hazy from working all day and taking the redeye across multiple time zones. I opened the door to my room and looked around…I spotted two beautiful doors that lead to a balcony and when I stepped out onto the balcony I was greeted by the most amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. I literally gasped…then I immediately took an Eiffel Tower selfie! Each morning when I woke up and each night before bed I'd step out onto the balcony and gaze at the Eiffel Tower…half expecting it to have disappeared from view while I wasn't looking. The view only got more epic as the hours and days went on. And just when I thought it couldn't get more magical I found out that at 5 minutes before midnight the Eiffel Tower sparkles like a million diamonds! Breathtaking!
One of the benefits of signing up for the Paris Beauty Tour is that Julia gives you access to experiences that money can't buy. On day three of the Paris Beauty Tour we had lunch with the owners of one of Paris' oldest drugstores, Pharmacie Monge.
As a girl with a serious CVS obsession this was one of the highlights of the tour for me. I love the way business is done in Paris...first we sat down and broke bread with the Pharmacie owners and learned how they came to own such a historic company and what they have planned for the future (keep your eye on the store front right across the Rue Monge from the pharmacie).
No cell phone use was allowed, to respect the way the French dine...working lunch doesn't really translate here. This gave us time to focus on the conversations and the food. We dined on the most delicious grilled fish and fresh bread at La Taverna and the restaurant owner dined at our table with us and told us all about his restaurant outside of Versailles. I added that to my To-Do list for next time.