Whenever we book a trip to France, usually Paris, I see it as the perfect opportunity to stock up on many products which have now become a staple part of my home.
Most of our travel is to Paris via the Eurostar. The opportunist in me is in her element; no luggage allowance and no weight restrictions! Boom!
My husband and I normally get the first train back on a Monday morning and go straight to work. Before now, I’ve rocked up to work with nine-arm antique chandeliers in my hand and old French boutique chairs under my arm. I know! I completely abuse the privilege but it’s great not having Ryanair breathing down your neck.
Alas, beyond the spontaneous and rather extravagant buys of the antique markets and beautiful boutiques, there are five main products I never return from France without. There are certain perks to marrying a Parisien, and having French retail at my fingers every once in a while, is one of them.
French Fancy No.1
Petit Marseillais – I now take orders for this stuff; Savon Liquide by Le Petit Marseillais. Not only does this liquid handsoap have charming, vintage-like branding, but the product smells and feels divine. And here’s the best bit…once you have bought your first liquid handsoap all you need do next time round is buy the refills. My favourite scents are A L’huile D’Olive, their signature soap, and A L’huile Essentielle de Lavande, which reminds me of our summers at the country house in Provence. Bliss!
French Fancy No.2
Bioderma – I had bad bouts of skin when I was younger so I now follow strict rituals to look after ‘mon visage’. Bioderma Sensibio H20 is the most gentle wash I have ever used. It is made from water (the name gives it away) and will remove water-resistant face and eye make up. It’s formula will remove any impurities in the skin while maintaining a natural pH balance. I use this to remove all make-up before starting my cleansing routine.
French Fancy No.3
Avène – These products, cultivated in the south of France with a high content of natural thermal spring water, are on every dermatologist’s recommendation list. They are formulated with plant-active, age-fighting ingredients. Ooh la la! There is a huge array of products in their range, and it’s a case of finding the right ones to suit you. And once you have, there’s no going back. I use their D-pigmentation for age spots I have developed as a young naive sun junky. I also use their Eluage creme to apply before bed and Cleanance, for exfoliation.
It’s worth noting both Bioderma and Avène are now stocked in Boots. However for me, it still works out cheaper during my many raids at the French pharmacy. I’ve left the price on (22.99 Euros) to give you an idea of what I pay.
French Fancy No.4
Maison Magazine – I have a huge passion for interiors, vintage and all things French (incase you didn’t already know!). So bringing these aspects together in the home is something I love to do. At the local Tabac (newsagents) I am overwhelmed and lost for time when it comes to buying interior magazines. There is such a huge selection in France; Maison Romantique, Maison Chic, Maison Campagne, and many more. I always buy one or two (okay maybe three) magazines to bring home. And once I’m done with them, I have a long-list of secondhand readers wanting their French Interior fix. Even so, they’re worth keeping just to set on the side because the imagery inside, and indeed on the cover, is a feature in itself.
French Fancy No.5
Petit Ourson Guimauve – Now this one is a guilty pleasure. It started on our first trip to the South of France when my husband introduced me to these naughty bears. They are milk chocolate treats filled with marshmellow. That’s it. It doesn’t sound amazing, and it’s no special chocolate; infact they’re rather cheap and cheerful. But unlike high-end French chocolate which is too rich for me, these little treats are light and taste so good. We pop them in the mouth when on the go, or dunk them in our café. Our obsession is silly, they’re cheap, there’s nothing massively fancy about them. But….We. Just. Love. Them.
(We’re not the only one’s who love these bears: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20166493)