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France, European beauty and perfume

I went to France for 2 weeks! I have wanted to go to Paris since 6th grade French class. Did you know that I have a degree in French? Needless to say, the culture overload made me so happy.

1. We had no issues with our flights. 2. It was 73 degrees, sunny and breezy every. single. day.

3. We didn’t check any bags! I did it guys, with only carry-ons.

MARSEILLE. Topless beaches, the BEST almond croissants of my life and electric scooters.

We hit 3 cities, starting on the French Riviera. When we got there, I went straight to a pharmacie to grab full size shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion. I figured with all three of us using it for two weeks, that was the way to go. Except – no conditioner. I asked and looked around and it seemed “they just didn’t use it?!” I guess they also do not bleach their hair (like moi) but I figured I would embrace the culture and…. put lotion in my hair lol. Turns out, I didn’t need it! Their hair products do not have harsh chemicals and ingredients and simply using the honey shampoo recommended and letting the sun dry my hair, resulted in super soft hair.

Next up: body lotion. The lotion brand Laino, which I loved so much I want to get in the New Orleans studio, was sulfate free and super hydrating and worked fantastically with my spray tan. I brought PCA Skin SPF and used it daily, but inevitably Justin got burnt. He doesn’t reapply y’all, I try. GM Collin ceramides saved his skin. I’m so glad I brought the little tube with us. He used 2 and in less than 24 hours, his redness was gone and the tightness and pain were diminished. My teen daughter’s skin promptly broke out after so much traveling and again 2 ceramides, one at night and one in the morning, cleared up her skin. You need these in your travel bag! They heal, repair and soothe. Air travel dehydrates your skin and these little gold babies really do make a huge difference for everyone in the family. They are also perfect for wind burn from boats or skiing, known from personal experience.

Other toiletries: travel size PCA facial wash + rebalance, eye patches, a Biovegane sheet mask (always good for a weekly refresh on your skin), our botanical mascara and lip plumper. I also brought these sexy pink heels thinking I would for sure need them on a fancy dinner date and they never left my luggage. Totally impractical on cobblestone streets – leave heels at home and more room for things to take home.

Because Marseille is a port city, it is a beautiful melting pot of diversity and the food influences make for amazing meals. Pizza @ Chez Jeannot, which happened to be next to our Airbnb with an insane view, was on par with Italy and has me still dreaming about it. We found Indian after perusing the open-air market in the Old City (Vieux Carre) @ Restaurant Ashoka. And the small bakery down the street that is not on Google and ran by two girls in their 20s had apple fritters, eclairs, croissants and the flakiest pastries that exist. It was a delight to wake up and run down to see what they baked up that morning and then eat it by the sea.

We walked 86 miles. We also consumed a lot of espresso. We grabbed electric scooters that we rode down the boulevard hugging the Mediterranean coast at sunset. That was FUN. The graffitied neighborhoods were my daughter’s favorite and the beautiful women sun bathing and catching up on the rocks, only wearing a suit bottom, was just the first cultural experience and learning opportunity of the trip on the wide differences between the US and Europe. Spoiler: it wasn’t that big of a deal.

We took a train. We saw thousands of sunflower fields!

BORDEAUX. Fancy pants spa, Korean yums, abandoned submarine docks.

The spa…..I had a massage and facial the first day and it was divine. I have high standards when it comes to these treatments obviously, and it was heaven. I even picked up some facial techniques that we are incorporating at Uptown Charm. Again, there’s more focus on subtle products without harsh ingredients, taking the time to really focus without rushing and the scents were intoxicating.

It was a Guerlain spa. I sought this out and found it in a luxury hotel that we stayed in @ the Intercontinental Bordeaux Le Grand. They are my favorite perfume brand! I have only ever bought it at Epcot in Disney World (France area) and knew that I was making room in my carry-on for a new bottle. Cuir Beluga. Hours after my massage I kept smelling my skin: vanilla, amber, something masculine. I loved it and went back to find it. She then told me the steam room, sauna and pool were open to guests all the time. À demain! I snuck out every morning in my robe and slippers to wake up in the steam room and take a quick dip in the water surrounded by grand columns and the sunrise over the city through the windows. Is this living my best life? Did I mention I CAN EAT EVERY CARB IN THE COUNTRY?!

I have an extreme intolerance to gluten in the states, but in Europe it just isn’t so. The wheat seed has not been manipulated for industrialization and processed. It is simple and ancient and my system happily accepts and digests it. I have bread, pastas, quiche, heck I don’t even have to dissect the menu, I just order what sounds tasty. Freedom tastes gooood. So did the Korean @Bibibap. We stumbled upon the largest immersive digital art gallery in the world @Bassins de Lumières inside a WWII bunker. If you make it here, don’t miss The Cube. It was crazy colorful movement on the floor and walls set to what I think of as horror movie music, but like really cool and not scary.

There was another train. The fast one this time, SNCF!

PARIS. Cheese, chocolate, a rock concert and a love lock.

Rue Cler was among my favorite streets! It’s a street with only specialty shops. Only chocolate. Only cheese. Only bread. Only ice cream. We packed up a delicious picnic by stopping in at each and ate leisurely under the Eiffel Tower. Tasty and magical. I’ve never eaten so much cheese.

Then we saw RHCP in an outside stadium!!!! John is back in the band and they were on fire. We jammed and sang our hearts out. It. Was. Awesome. Speaking of music, Justin plays guitar among other instruments, and we found a music district with “just acoustic guitars” “just electric guitars” just pedals” “just amps”. The “just records” store owner saw us coming but he told us he was closing to go to lunch. Just like that. Another stark difference between capitalism and la joie de vivre. Lunch = more important than sales. Paris really likes to have shops dedicated to one thing, and one thing only. I’m into it.

We stayed in Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement, outside the city center, and with an incredible view of Sacre Coeur. It was on a hill and had a secret spot that gave you a view of Paris from above with the Eiffel Tower in the frame – that’s where we locked our love up. Clichè? Impossibly corny? Sure, but we were in PARIS! It was not the famous bridge, they have actually banned locks on it, but it was our piece of Paris tucked away that I hope to find again someday.

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