Forget all those overplayed ‘city of love’ sells, the real reason to make your next mini-break Paris is the beauty scene. From Guerlain spas and hotels with Diptyque toiletries to must-visit perfume, make-up and skincare stores (yes, they have Sephora), here’s why beauty addicts should book a Eurostar asap…
Where To Stay…
In our eyes, there’s no better place to get your beauty sleep than the Mandarin Oriental, Paris. Firstly, it’s in one of the most stylish districts – on rue Saint-Honoré, close to all the chicest shops and spas – and, secondly, it’s simply beautiful. As soon as we stepped into the glittering lobby, complete with twinkling suspended butterflies, it was like we’d entered a whole new world. It’s no surprise Victoria’s Secret put all the Angels up here during the VS Fashion Show in Paris last year – this is luxury at its finest.
Plus, did we mention the Diptyque toiletries? Diptyque created the scent especially for the Parisian Mandarin Oriental, so you won’t find it anywhere else in the world. The bathrooms are pretty special too, with huge tubs, snuggly Frette robes and light-up magnifying mirrors perfect for doing your make-up in.
As of 11th December, you’ll be able to get an in-room manicure too – Christian Louboutin has teamed up with the hotel group to launch his first ever nail bars, giving guests a dose of the signature spiked polishes.
Which Spas To Book…
While we’re on the subject of the Mandarin Oriental, their Guerlain Spa deserves a mention. Book in for a treatment here and you’ll get your own private room; shimmering with iridescent pink tiles and complete with a personal changing area, bathroom, jacuzzi and shower-cum-steam room. We tried the Guerlain Radiance Facial Treatment – a 50-minute session of deep cleansing, masks and massage – and left genuinely glowing. Little extras like an adjustable treatment bed (our therapist raised our legs to help increase circulation), a heated stomach pack to aid digestion and a ‘starry sky’ of lights made it well and truly pampering.
It’s safe to say when it comes to spas, Parisians know their stuff. Just around the corner from the Mandarin, you’ll find Chanel's spa at the Ritz Paris – a state-of-the-art fitness and beauty retreat boasting a grand neo-classical swimming pool, yoga classes and treatments using Chanel’s products, of course. And the Dior Institut at Plaza Athénée is well worth a visit for its couture-inspired spa menu and Instagrammable interiors.
If you’re after something a little different, Sultane de Saba's spas specialise in exotic treatments and hammam sessions. The rue Boissière branch is a stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe, and has a mystical Moroccan vibe – all dimly-lit and cosy – with the beauty brand’s signature musk-vanilla fragrance filling the air.
Where To Shop…
French department store Printemps recently gave its Haussmann store’s beauty hall a serious make-over – it’s new Beauty Concept Store is set over three floors, bathed in natural light and home to a chocolate box-like assortment of brands; we could have spent hours browsing all the ‘It’ make-up, cult skincare products and niche perfume houses (Sous le Manteau and their love potion-inspired scents were a particular stand-out). The store has its own entrance on Caumartin Street, and also boasts two hair salons, nail bars, make-up artist stations and even spa cabins.
Naturally, any beauty buff worth their bath salt will want to head to Sephora. The Champs Elysées store is Sephora’s French flagship and the one to visit – it’s absolutely enormous, sells over 200 brands (50 of which are exclusive to the branch) and will quite possibly make any other Sephora shop you visit after seem akin to a shoebox.
Head to CityPharma to stock up on French pharmacy skincare, Colette to smell all the scented candles (the ‘most stylish store in the world’ is closing down forever on 20th December, so get to it!) and Guerlain’s Vendôme boutique to visit actual perfume heaven – make sure you’ve got enough phone battery to Insta Story all the décor, and don’t leave without trying the new digital scent matching experience; an interactive service that helps you navigate the brand’s 100+ fragrances.
What To Do…
Speaking of perfume, Le Grand Musée du Parfum is another must for fragrance fans. France is the world leader for perfume, so it’s no surprise the first ever museum of its kind has opened here. Set inside a 19th-century mansion, the immersive experience takes you on a multi-sensory journey through the history of scent and perfume-making; from Ancient Egypt to modern day.
Discover why famous ‘seducers’ like Cleopatra used fragrance to get their wicked way, explore the marriage between perfume and couture, then take a walk through the ‘garden of scents’ and sit down to watch a stunning visual display. It’s a great way to spend a lazy afternoon when you’re still on cloud nine from the spa.
Where To Eat…
For food that gets your skin glowing as much as all those skincare buys and spa sessions, we really rated the Detox Delight café in Printemps’ beauty hall – think veg-packed bowls, superfood salads and cold pressed juices in all colours of the rainbow. Esteemed chef Thierry Marx helped create some of the hot dishes, so you don’t even have to compromise on that famous French flavour.
Marx has also brought a touch of gourmet to healthy food to the Mandarin Oriental’s all-day light dining spot, L’Honoré. The detox broths, packed with beauty-boosting herbs, are well worth a try, along with the avocado toast – by far the prettiest we’ve ever been served (and, trust us, we’ve eaten a lot of the stuff).
Rates for Mandarin Oriental, Paris start from EUR 925 per room per night. For more information or to make a booking, please call 33 (0) 1 70 98 78 88 or visit MandarinOriental.com/Paris
Eurostar operates up to 21 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare Du Nord with one-way fares starting from £29 (based on a return journey). Tickets are available from Eurostar.com or 03432 186 186