Paris: A Visual Post (part three)

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 10 - 2013

At the risk of forgetting all about the fact that this is, after all, a beauty blog… I’m posting the final part of my Paris travelogue today. Most of you will be relieved to hear that it also includes a quick mention of the beauty bits and bobs that ended up in my basket along the way.

Day 3 started with an early-ish check out from the hotel who stored our suitcase until we were ready to collect en-route back to Gare du Nord. We wanted to grab some breakfast on the run, and being the thoroughly unhealthy sods that we are currently, we opted for a traditionally Parisian chocolate eclair from L’atelier des Pains. What?!?! WE WERE ON HOLIDAY!  In fairness, we shared.

For those of you who think that chocolate eclairs do not a breakfast make. Get off my blog.

Otherwise, as you were my friends…

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oh God, so good…

We began our final day of sightseeing by jumping on the Metro to Pigalle.  It was at this point that I realised why I hadn’t seen any fat Parisians… there are so many steps in the Metro system that it’s simply impossible to put on weight.  Talking of steps, when we reached ground-level I put my exercise-dodging plan into action and jumped on the Montmartrobus to take us up the back roads of Montmartre to its summit and the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur.

The bus was full of pensioners, physically unable to make the ascent under their own steam… whilst we sat there, being lazy bastards.  With a small amount of shame, I turned to look out of the window, watching the poor sods puffing up the hill alongside, sweat pouring down their faces in the extreme midday heat… cackling to myself all the while.  We got off the bus about 100m from the basilica and and mooched around the back streets and markets for a short while.

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Alphonse Mucha and Toulouse Lautrec are two names synonymous with this district

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I promise I didn’t eat any!

Then it was on to the church itself, a long-held personal favourite spot in the city.  I remembered visiting as a young teen and being about as impressed as a teenager can possibly be with a tourist attraction.  I have to say, despite the crowds and hawkers, it still didn’t disappoint.  So beautiful and so impressive towering over the city.

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you’re all spoiling my photo… get out of the way!

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more steps, suckers!

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the view from the top

We walked around the interior but I have to admit that the number of “squash a penny” machines jingling away didn’t do much to add to the atmosphere inside.  I donated some pennies and lit a tealight in memory of my Nan before heading back outside and down the steps for the descent back into the city centre.  Next stop, The Avenue des Champs-Élysée for a bit of shopping!

You can’t go to Paris without seeing two things.  One of them is the Eiffel Tower, and let’s be honest… it’s pretty hard to miss.  The other?  The Arc de Triomphe!  It’s one of those monuments that if you don’t tick off the list… you haven’t been to Paris!  Saying that, I hadn’t seen it before… well, not close up and I properly fangirled, laughing at the time on Instagram that it was probably a bit weird to fangirl a monument.

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I had to wait for 4 lorries, 2 vans, 43423 mopeds, and a bus to pass before I could take this photo

It was at this point in the day that Mr. L started to groan a little… you see, I had barely done any beauty shopping. I was being so virtuous and pointing out this fact every. single. time. I walked past the entrance to a pharmacy.  “Look how good I’m being!  Aren’t you glad you married me?”

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inside the “pharmacie”

Only, at this point… I caved a bit.  Mostly because I felt as though I was on familiar territory.  Infact… if I’m honest… I basically sprinted towards Monoprix and the next-door English-speaking Pharmacy.  Sure, it’s probably not the best-stocked pharmacy in Paris, and neither is it the cheapest… but I’ve always had really good, non-rushed service inside and I knew I’d be able to pick up what I wanted.  I was more disappointed with Monoprix though which seemed to have bumped most of its lesser-known French high-street lines in favour of the stuff we can get over here anyway.  I boo-ed.

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my Parisian beauty buys

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forgot to include this one in the last shot ha!

I’ll do another post on my purchases soon but the above photos should give you an idea that I was pretty well-behaved non?

Disappointed by my lack of makeup purchases and the fact that I didn’t have time to hunt down a Fragonard, I went and consoled myself with a giant Croque Monsieur and a Creme Brulee (as you do) and the world was (almost) completely mended again.

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Croque Monsieur at Le Comptoir Boetie

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can you hear the “crack”?

Alas, our time in Paris had come to an end and we returned to our hotel to pick up our luggage before heading back to the station for our train home.  All in all, it was a memorable 52-hours in Paris… horrendously expensive and physically exhausting but I wouldn’t have changed a single second of it.

Thanks for reading if you got this far xx

(click for part one and part two)


Paris: A Visual Post (part two)

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 7 - 2013

Our second day in Paris should have started a few hours earlier than it did.  Our alarm went off at 8am and I hit the snooze button with as much force as I could muster.  Over, and over… and over again.  We eventually left the hotel at 11am, having decided that without the early start under our belts, we didn’t have the resilience to deal with any potential queues at the Catacombs, which for safety reasons, only allows a restricted number of visitors in at any one time.

We opted instead, for a more leisurely stroll through Le Marais, starting at the Place de la Bastille.

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the Parisian Metro system

A quick note on the Metro system… we bought “carnets” of 10 single-use tickets as and when we needed them, instead of the daily Mobilis pass (travelcard), our decision worked out cheaper over the course of three days.  However, the downside was that these tickets constantly became demagnetized by going through security checks at the various tourist attractions.

The Metro staff are at least, clearly used to this and were happy enough to respond to my cries of “ça ne marche pas” whilst frantically waving the tickets about infront of them.  I got used to the eye-rolls eventually.  In other words, if your tickets fail to open the barriers… chances are, it’s not your fault.  Go and get them checked at the ticket window.

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Place de la Bastille

Now, I’m no French history buff but I spent every summer growing up in the West of France, in the Vendee… an area that has a reputation for its anti-revolutionary, royalist history which culminated in an uprising against the republic and the eventual defeat/massacre of over 150,000 Vendeen people… controversially described as the first genocide in modern history.  Infact, in the small field next door to our house remains an underground tunnel believed to lead all the way to the local Chateau which was built as a means of escape for when the going got tough for the local aristrocracy!

The storming of The Bastille (a prison originally located on the site of the above column) in Paris on July 14, 1789 by the city’s commoners led almost directly to the French Revolution.  If you walk around the Place de la Bastille you can see the outline in the ground, marking the location of the prison’s original towers – a hugely understated nod to such an important time in the country’s history!

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Place des Vosges

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The gardens at Hotel de Sully

We moved on in the direction of the Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris.  It was packed with people enjoying their lunch in the sunshine, and although we only stopped en-route (our tummies were grumbling for lunch), I really recommend it as a place to hide away from the masses.

Now firmly in the historic Le Marais area, we headed into the old Jewish quarter on the hunt for what is often described online as “the ultimate falafel”.  It didn’t take long to spot the lunch queues snaking up the Rue de Rosiers so we joined the line at L’As du Fallafel to get a taste of what we had been missing!

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the lunch queue

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the “falafel special” at L’as du Fallafel on Rue de Rosiers

In order to keep the queue moving quickly at peak times, your order (and payment) are taken whilst standing in line, this means that your food is ready and waiting by the time you reach the front.  Although the queue was long, it was super-efficient and we were walking away with the fattest falafel-filled pittas within 10-minutes of joining.

If you’re on a tight budget – at only 5.50€ each, they make a great purse-friendly option (especially if you find a local park to eat them in and combine them with a cheeky pastry from the patisserie up the road!)

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The Pont d’Arcole looking South West

Bellies filled, we roamed the back streets a little longer before heading across to the Ile de la Cité, onto the major tourist path with Notre Dame firmly in our crosshairs.

The city council have erected a huge (temporary?) grandstand infront of the cathedral, which spoiled every photo opportunity possible and we very nearly didn’t bother joining the queue – which again, was frighteningly long.  I’m glad we did though as it was the fastest-moving line I’d ever seen and we were in within only five-minutes.  What can I say?  Many of these Parisian queues are terribly deceptive!

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Notre Dame’s impressive exterior

Having said that, Notre Dame is definitely more impressive from the outside, not to say that the interior isn’t worth bothering with… but the carvings and sculptures that adorn the facade are something very special, as is the sheer scale of the building.

If you’re up for visiting any other attractions in the vicinity, I thoroughly recommend the lesser-known Sainte-Chappelle, only one block away, with its extensive 13th century stained glass windows which make you feel as though you’re standing inside a kaleidoscope.  It’s an unforgettable experience and truly atmospheric, having often been described as one of the world’s most beautiful buildings.

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the lower chapel at Sainte-Chappelle

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the upper chapel at Sainte-Chappelle

By this point in the day, our feet were killing us, so we escaped the island for somewhere to stop for a glass of wine and a treat before continuing.  As with most tourist cities in Europe, you definitely need to head off the main thoroughfares to get anything that comes close to resembling value for money and for your efforts, you’re generally rewarded with better service and food!

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some of the food choices along the main tourist routes (mmm brie)

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tartes, tartes everywhere!

We had originally planned to take a night-time Seine cruise with Bateaux-Mouches but our feet simply wouldn’t allow us to travel from our random location on the left-bank across to the Pont de l’Alma where these boats departed from… plus the fact that it was still only 6pm and around 3hrs away from nightfall!

In the end, we trudged a few hundred yards onto the Pont Neuf and took a cruise from the smaller company, Vedettes du Pont-Neuf.  It was “ok”, a little rushed perhaps but one of those “things” that you would probably regret not doing, you know?  If you book online in advance, you can get a 5€ reduction per ticket, making it a really affordable experience.

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anonymous

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Later on that evening, we passed by a peaceful demonstration of people showing solidarity with the Turkish citizens… the French sure know how to throw a good protest!

We finished the day with a real trip highlight, a well-timed jaunt up to the top of Montparnasse Tower to see the city’s lights laid out below us.  Rumour has it that the tower has been under threat of demolition for years… the city hates it and considers it a blot on the landscape.  The only thing saving the 210m tall building?  It’s absolutely riddled with asbestos and they simply don’t know how to take it down safely!

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the observation deck – a 360 degree view of the city

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a birds-eye view

For me, it’s one of the best spots in the city from which to appreciate the Eiffel Tower.  I just couldn’t believe how empty it was up there, it seems that so few tourists take advantage of this location and it was a magical spot to watch the sun go down over the horizon.  We spent a good hour up there until just before closing time when we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep ahead of our last day of exploration.

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some instagram shots from day 2

Final day tomorrow… (and a peek at my beauty buys!)

Paris: A Visual Post (part one)

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 7 - 2013

Well that was tiring.

The fundamental problem with trying to fit 5-days worth of sightseeing into just over 48hrs is that, something… somewhere has to give.  In my case, it was very nearly my sanity (and my feet).

We arrived in Paris at lunchtime on Monday and headed straight to our hotel to make use of their left luggage facilities.  Fortunately for us, they were good sorts and just let us check in early instead.  Our hotel was the Astoria Opera, whose nearest metro stop, Rome, was only a 2-minute walk away.  It’s really well-located for using the public transport and has a great bakery around the corner for late breakfast treats!

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A pretty big room by Parisian standards!

The first thing that I want to recommend for your trip to Paris… is two iPhone apps that were paramount to our enjoyment of the city.  The first is Paris Metro, where a paltry 69p will ensure that finding your route across France’s capital is a doddle and this one doesn’t need a data connection to work either.

The second app that was invaluable for getting around the city was Digi Guide Paris, another inexpensive 69p purchase.  I didn’t really use it as a “guide” but the offline maps capability made sure that I was always headed in the right direction.

These two nifty tools really did ensure that our trip was as stress-free as possible.  A final, honourable mention goes to the free TripAdvisor Paris City Guide which had some useful last minute information on opening times (we found out that one of our intended museums was closed on a Monday thanks to this).  Just make sure that you download as much information as possible for the app before you set off.

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Exterior of The Louvre from Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre Metro exit

As soon as we’d dumped our luggage and caught our breaths, we jumped on the Metro and headed for The Louvre.  I knew in advance that I wanted to make a beeline for the quieter Porte des Lions entrance, and catching sight of the queues snaking into the Pyramid, I was keen to quickly locate it across the courtyard.  Unfortunately, it was closed!

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The Louvre with its famous pyramid!

I had a moment’s frustration (because it should have been open, damnit!) before I engaged plan B and headed for the underground mall at Carousel du Louvre.  Thankfully, we only had to queue for around 10 minutes to buy our tickets and get through security before we were in!

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galleries that go on forever…

When people tell you that it would take days, or even weeks to appreciate the museum properly, they ain’t lying.  If I used only one word to describe this Parisian gem, it would be: overwhelming.  The sheer size of the place is something you can only really appreciate in person but it’s worth ensuring that you’ve got a pair of comfortable shoes on your feet for when you attempt it!

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…end ever!

We literally only discovered about 3% of the museum by concentrating on the major sights but even with our guerrila-style attack on the attraction’s jewels, we still lingered over a few pieces that caught our eyes, in particular, everything on display by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson who I don’t mind admitting, I’d never heard of before.

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Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa face-to-face with her (many) admirers

I enjoyed documenting the crowds infront of the most well-known pieces more than the art itself.  Mr. L kept laughing at me that I was standing back and taking pictures of everyone else rather than pushing to the front to enjoy what they were capturing.  If you’re really into seeing these masterpieces, it’s well worth getting there for opening time as the ambiance is definitely spoilt by the sheer number of people around you.

You will struggle to have any kind of “moment” with these icons otherwise, so Google for an early-morning action plan, complete with the ideal route for getting through The Louvre before the throngs of people appear behind you!

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The Winged Victory of Samothrace

My favourite spot in the museum (well, of the bits that I saw) was this precise location above the Daru staircase in line with the majestic Winged Victory statue.  It was relatively quiet from up here and gave us a moment to gather our thoughts while gazing down at everyone doing their thing.  I couldn’t help but laugh at all the people taking photos with their iPads, it looks so funny and always puts me in mind of Penny from Inspector Gadget with her computer book!

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Another crowd-pleaser, the Venus de Milo

After our whistlestop tour of The Louvre, we were famished and headed back down into the Carousel du Louvre for a bite to eat.  Unfortunately, it was proper food-court stuff so we settled for a sandwich from McDonalds and promised to self-flagellate later in penance for our sins.  Keeping it real.

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Underneath the pyramid

We had pre-booked a behind-the-scenes Eiffel Tower tour to ensure that we bypassed the worst of the queues and I was so glad I did!  When we arrived, the queues were horrible, definitely don’t be thinking you can rock up to this attraction and wait in line for ten-minutes… we’re talking hours upon hours of queueing.  The excursion I booked was via Cultival.fr and cost around 22€ each which included a guided tour of the bunkers underneath the tower and the operating room of the pillar lifts which were installed over 100-years ago. Nerdy stuff!

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On the ground, looking up!

The thing about the tower is that it just doesn’t disappoint.  You see it in films, on TV, and immortalised in people’s holiday snaps the world over but it just doesn’t compare to standing infront of the structure and looking up.  There’s something about its skeletal form that trumps any skyscraper. Brilliant!

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The incredible view from the 2nd floor

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From across the other side of the river with one of the Bateau Mouches cruises passing by.

Once we’d bored ourselves senseless with the tower’s history, we headed across The Seine over to the Jardins du Trocadero where some daring skateboarders were piling up industrial-sized rubbish bins and ramps to impress the crowd. We grudgingly walked up to the Trocadero above, still not really wanting to leave the tower’s magnetic pull.

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Once we got to the top – dodging the numerous street hawkers on the way – we decided that it was surely time for dinner and headed for a bistro over the road where I’d spent a few happy (and slightly drunken) hours on my last trip to Paris: Cafe Kleber.  We expected to pay through the nose for its location but at 60€ for both of us for two courses and a glass of wine each, it could have been much worse by Paris’ expensive standards.

I’d been hankering after Steak Frites and am pleased to say that this one didn’t disappoint!

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We headed back to the hotel after a Nutella and Chantilly crepe from a nearby food stall overlooking the tower’s dazzling 10pm light show.  What a perfect way to end our first day in Paris!

Here’s some instagram shots from our first day, I was switching between cameras like a loon:

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Day two coming up tomorrow… tell me what your favourite sights of Paris are?  If you haven’t been, what do you dream of visiting in the city of love most of all?

I’m off to Paris!

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 2 - 2013

Remember when I won a trip to Paris courtesy of Vaseline? Well, I’m jumping on the Eurostar tomorrow and finally taking advantage of my prize… I can’t. bloody. wait!

It’s the first time me and Mr. L have been away on our own in 9 years, so I’m calling it our belated honeymoon… seeing as our actual honeymoon was in Manchester. How romantic?

My little L is looking forward to a couple of nights of endless Disney movies and marshmallows with her Nan and Pops, and me? Well, I’m looking forward to endless steak frites, trips to Monoprix (so classy), and people watching at Trocadero (I don’t even care how expensive the wine is!)

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I’ve got a modest shopping list in my back pocket but I’m hoping that some new stuffs might catch my eye while I’m browsing.  Our itinerary (planned military-style by yours truly) is pretty packed so I don’t know how much shopping time I’ll be able to squeeze in, I also have to remember that I’m not travelling solo!

Incase you’re interested (and because I’d like some tips), my itinerary looks a little something like this:

Monday: Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Trocadero

Tuesday: Catacombs, Pere Lachaise, Rodin’s Thinker, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Pont Neuf, Seine Cruise

Wednesday: Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, La Defense

The thought of The Louvre frightens me, I know it’s gonna be rammed but I’m ok with being a philistine – I just wanna spot the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.  Some of the other “sights”, we’re probably not going to go inside, well… it depends on the queues…

I’ve only been to Paris once before on a school trip, and once with Vexinthecity, so I’m by no means overly familiar with the city. 

Any tips for eating (not too expensive!), sightseeing, transport etc. are as always, super-appreciated.

I’M SO BLEEDIN’ EXCITED!

À bientôt mes amies! xxxx

I do have an A Level in French but everytime I add any of the beautiful language to a blog post I just get reminded of this scene from Only Fools and Horses!  Anyway, I’ve received all of your lovely entries, have had a fully sleepless night over choosing my single favourite interpretation of the brief, of which I shall now remind you….

Create an artistic representation of Paris, with one catch.  You have to use the medium of BEAUTY to create it.

Here are the entries I received (click to enlarge, hover to see who created them!)…

As you can see, the standard runs pretty high, as does the obvious misuse of recreational drugs (I want what some of you are on!)

But without further ado, the one that stood out is this one… a portrait of Coco Chanel, done in the pointillist style, in nail polish.

The entry features one of the most iconic women from the world of beauty and fashion, from perhaps the most iconic Parisian brand of all time created using a technique made famous by Parisian painter Georges Pierre Seurat.  You can’t get much more Parisian than that!  It pays excruciating attention to detail and embodies all aspects of the required brief.  Plus, it simply looks flippin’ brilliant.

So, please join me in delivering a huge congratulations to Sophie, a.k.a @Radiofireworks who has just won herself and a friend a 5* weekend in Paris with £500 spending money!

Here’s a couple of bonus images Sophie sent through showing the “arteest” in action and a scan which displays the technical details more clearly.


Congratulations Sophie, bonnes vacances!

I’m so pleased you guys got into the spirit of things and threw yourselves at the challenge.  When I say that I wish I could award you ALL with a prize, I mean that from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you so much everyone for joining in and a big thank you to Vaseline for allowing me to host such a wonderful and generous competition.

Le lipstick, le MAC et le BIG Mac!

Posted by Lipglossiping On January - 27 - 2011

Last weekend saw VexintheCity and myself wandering the streets of Paris, city of lights and painfully stylish women.  What is it with Parisienne ladies anyway?  Do they teach eyeliner in schools?  I didn’t see a single pair of eyes that hadn’t been expertly rimmed with smudgy black kohl.  It was both refreshing and slightly intimidating.

Here’s some shots from the (very long) day out, starting with the Paris essentials:

A map, we looked at it blankly all day long.

Jaffa Cakes – Don’t attempt the Eurostar at 6.22am without copious amounts of sugar close at hand.

Papped – I swear to God I did not pose for this!  Red lipstick made me feel almost cultured enough to tread the cobbled streets though.

Undeniably Paris!  Napoleon’s rebuild of the great city renders it thoroughly iconic with it’s long, wide Boulevards and grand Avenues!

Ahhh Sephora!  My first ever visit!  This is the one on Champs Élysées, we arrived v. early and as you can see, it wasn’t too busy at all!

Makeup, makeup as far as the eye can see!

Can you believe we sat our bums down on the posh chairs in Ladurée only to be told that we were too early for cake?  Too early… for cake?  So we boycotted all things French and went to McDonalds instead.  No really… we were famished!

As night fell, we indulged in a little of Paris’ notorious cafe culture… I recommend the house Merlot at Café Kléber, though I was a bit squiffy after only two glasses!

As you can probably tell by this photo.

But not this one!  Oooh La la!  Je t’aime La Tour Eiffel!

So what did I buy in the capital of fashion, beauty and all things ladylike?  Not a lot actually.  I’m saving my pennies for this weekend at IMATS but I did pick up a couple of bits…

See?  How restrained was I?

Despite all your fabulous advice and words of temptation, (for which I was immensely grateful and will be relying on when I return later in the year!) I held back and only picked up a Bioderma cleanser (for Mr. L!), a MAC CCB (I know, sacrilege to go to Paris and buy MAC right?) and a Rouge Baiser Lipstick (described as the world’s first ‘kiss-proof’ lipstick!)

Did I do well?  I also played with some MUFE in Sephora and expanded my IMATS wishlist tenfold.  Oops.

I dunno about inspirational, but…

Posted by Lipglossiping On January - 24 - 2011

…here’s an interview I did with the lovely Emily from Sparkle and Shade.  You can check it out if you’re looking for something to fill a boring morning with… I can’t promise it’ll make it any less boring though!

Well, what a whirlwind the last 4 days have been!

I’ve been up and down to London more in the last week than I have in months and then I headed off to Paris on Saturday with the infinitely good-humoured VexintheCity!  I didn’t spend as much money as I feared I might but what I bought, I’m very happy with.  I shall do a little Paris post later this week.

I’m playing catch up with emails, comments and posts so please bear with me and if I’ve missed a question (either by comment or email), do chase me up.

Have a great week friends x

Ooh la la, c’est la vie, zut alors… etc. etc.

Posted by Lipglossiping On January - 20 - 2011

I’m going to Parreeeee!  Not Paris… PARREEEEEEEE!

Innit.

What can I buy?  What would you buy?

Now bear in mind that being in the city of lurve will grant me access to the holy shrine of all things makeup – Sephora.  Are there any must haves?

The thing that I need to bear in mind is that the following week, is IMATS which means no MUFE shopping in advance of potential 40% discounts.

What goodies would you come back from Paris laden-down with?

RANDOM

The Body Shop Hair Chalks new for Spring 2014

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I’m going to Parreeeee!  Not Paris… PARREEEEEEEE! Innit. What can I buy?  What would you buy? Now bear in mind that being in the city …

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I’m going to Parreeeee!  Not Paris… PARREEEEEEEE! Innit. What can I buy?  What would you buy? Now bear in mind that being in the city …

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I’m going to Parreeeee!  Not Paris… PARREEEEEEEE! Innit. What can I buy?  What would you buy? Now bear in mind that being in the city …

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I’m going to Parreeeee!  Not Paris… PARREEEEEEEE! Innit. What can I buy?  What would you buy? Now bear in mind that being in the city …

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I’m going to Parreeeee!  Not Paris… PARREEEEEEEE! Innit. What can I buy?  What would you buy? Now bear in mind that being in the city …

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