Ah Paris, the city of love. When I think of Paris, I imagine romantic boat trips down the Seine, proposals on the Eiffel Tower and French-kissing on every corner. Now think of me in Paris and imagine Joey Tribbiani (thanks Karen!) speaking English in a heavy French accent, wearing an Eiffel Tower hat and stepping into my map on Champs-Elysee. Très classe!
Despite my inner Tribbiani-ness, I found myself in Paris last Wednesday afternoon. As you do. I was there as a guest of one of my favourite skincare brands Yon-Ka, who brought over a couple of mega-fans to see its laboratories. As the biggest Francophile and French skincare nut out there, it was literally like the mothership calling me home!
Pioneers in aromatherapy, the family-run Yon-Ka is over 60 years old and uses natural plant and marine extracts in its exquisite skincare ranges. We visited its labs just outside Paris in Argenteuil to meet with Mrs Yon-Ka herself, Catherine Mühlethaler, the daughter of company’s founder.
While there we also met with some passionate biochemists (two words you never thought you’d hear together) who walked us through the intricate process that goes in to creating a top skincare range. As someone who just liberally covers her face in the stuff without much thought, it was actually fascinating to see how Yon-Ka is lovingly created.
But it wasn’t all fun and games. Those wily French biochemists put us to work with a sniff test to see if we could identify the five essential oils (thyme, rosemary, geranium, cypress and lavender) that make up the Yon-Ka “Quintessence”. Eh, we couldn’t! Embarrassingly, we ‘hmmmmed’ and ‘hawed’ over them all, even the lavender. Holy mother of god! Personally, I blamed the early flight for our confusion (read: idiocy).
After lunch with Catherine – where she regaled us with her childhood spent as a guinea pig for her father’s early concoctions – we returned to Paris for a much-needed 40 winks before dinner.
And speaking of dinner, we decided to keep it low-key. Just a three-course meal in the award-winning Kong restaurant – as favoured by Sex and The City’s Carrie Bradshaw in Season Six – with panoramic views of Paris. As I said, low key (!).
Three courses and a couple of bottles of wine later, we found ourselves on one of the bridges over the Seine watching the midnight Eiffel Tower light display – the perfect end to a perfect day.
Up bright and early on Thursday, I spent a happy morning wandering down the Rue de Rivoli and around the Jardin des Tuileries at the Lourve museum, snapping pictures with my new compact Canon (love!).
Stopping off in the Cafe Palais Royale for the obligatory Cafe Allonge and croissant, I spent a relaxed hour people-watching all those effortlessly chic Parisians. Later, I joined the Yon-Ka girls for lunch at Angelina’s on the Rue de Rivoli – a dessert fiend’s utopia. Think mille-feuille, madeleines, souffles, creme brulees, eclairs and macarons in every colour and flavour, and you get the picture. Ooh la la!
Stuffed to the gills, we later waddled over to Aquamoon spa, wedged between Louis Vuitton and Cartier, on the Place Vendome for an afternoon of treatments. I opted for the rather scary sounding Sculptant with Yon-Ka oils which involved my cellulite being pummelled into submission for an hour. Pinned to the table, I lay back and dreamed of my future Elle MacPherson-like thighs. A dip in the pools, a trip to the sauna and a pot of herbal tea later, we had to bid a sad Au revoir to Paris.
As Hemingway would say “wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast”.
Or as Joey Tribbiani would say “Shah blue blah! Me lah peeh! Ombrah! Pooh”.