Hope you all had a great weekend.
When I first started blogging à Paris many, many moons ago, I updated weekly with a list of “The Top 10 Things I love this week…” See: the Leffler archives here (stop laughing. Blogging wasn’t as cool in 2004 when I began my adventures.) In honor of a new year (if you haven’t wished me Happy Birthday yet, it’s never too late, merci very much…) I thought I’d bring it back. But since no one has the attention span to read my prolific prose, we’ll start with just a few then finish off with part deux later in the week. D’accord?
I just spent a month in Paris and, while I love returning to a place that never seems to change, the City of Lights has indeed lightened up in many ways.
Voilà some of my favorite blasts from le past and new très green and très chic discoveries in my favorite French city.
- Joelle Ciocco
“Why does a French woman always have a shower before she goes to sleep?”
Joelle Ciocco asked me nonchalantly as I sat in front of her in her pristine office during a recent rainy day in Paris. I was ostensibly seated in a très chic office building, gazing ahead at fancy ladies of the rue Royale wandering by the rue Royale with massive bags filled with designer shoes and nearby businessmen and lawyers hurrying through on their way back to the office after lunch. Behind me, however, an exam table was set-up à la a doctor’s office.
I paused, pondering the “correct” answer for a few seconds… (because she smells like cigarettes? Because she didn’t have time to shower in the morning?) before Ciocco declared enthusiastically “because she’s just made l’amour !” So, in sum, sex is the key to glowing skin? While (unfortunately) Ciocco doesn’t offer a matchmaking service for single clients (I did of course ask If she provided tall, dark, handsome French men with every purchase of a cleanser. For all parties wondering, the answer is a definitive non. Though I did get a giggle – score), washing away one’s sins whatever they may be, at the end of the day, is a must for Ciocco.
Her motto? Cleanse, bébé, cleanse! OK, that’s my interpretation of her simple, yet elegant approach to skincare. Her “lait onctueux” (that translates literally to “creamy milk” – does not get more sensual or provocateur than that, oui?) is a best-seller (and Natalie Portman’s favorite skin necessity, may I add…) Ciocco is known across the globe as France’s cult “facialist.” This self-described “epidermologist” is a skin doctor who treats both skin…and each individual occupying said skin. For Ciocco, every “patient” is different and her treatments not only involve sculpting, picking, prodding, massaging, cleansing and stretching the skin, but also an in-depth rendez-vous examining every detail of each’s person’s daily life and beauty and lifestyle regimen.
Her holistic approach takes into account family history, lifestyle, time of year and oui, even emotions. She’s a one-woman show, a mélange of your doctor, scientist, personal trainer, psychologist and chef all in one…that is, all disguised as a very fashionable French lady with flawless skin and killer style.
With more than 40 years of experience, this pioneer of skincare au naturel (oui, before it was trending!), boasts Marc Jacobs, Carine Roitfeld and Carla Bruni among her loyal clients and is known in her circles as “the Dr. House of skin” stopping at nothing to find the root cause of skin ailments and get rid of them forever.
While every epidermis deserves its own individual routine, cleansing is a universal necessity for everyone, says Ciocco. And, based not only on the fact that I wouldn’t mind being mistaken for Natalie Portman or Laetitia Casta on the street, but also on the fact that, while she is charming and welcoming, Joelle Ciocco is the type of woman that one feels inclined – cough cough, obliged – to listen to. Oui, Chef! Whatever you say.
She uses so many skin-friendly products that are almost good enough to eat including some of my favorites like cumin, nutmeg or rosemary.
“I consider myself a cook…for skin,” Ciocco told me.
Sure, French women don’t get facelifts…they simply call Joelle Ciocco. Or at least the more privileged ones.
Luckily, a spot on the Coppola family tree or a position as Editor of Vogue isn’t necessary to give your skin the Ciocco glow. Her Excellence of epidermis has launched her own skincare line. However, for Ciocco, it’s less about what you’re putting on your face and more about how you see that face.
“Mirror mirror on the wall…” Step aside, evil queen, namely YOU doubting your beauty. “We take a good look in the mirror together,” Ciocco says of her consultations with clients. “There’s a huge psychological part of this. Redness, dryness, imperfections… there’s a reason behind these skin issues and it’s my job to find it.” Even before applying creams, lotion or magic serums (and don’t worry, she has several !), Ciocco injects her clients with a huge dose of…good vibes. “We’ll look in the mirror together. I’ll be positive. I have to stay positive.” For Ciocco, our skin is simply a manifestation of what’s happening throughout our entire bodies. “The skin is a mirror. The skin is an organ, one that sends out into the world the light of what’s happening within the body. The color of a person’s current state of health is magnetized on the skin.”
In addition to cleansing, Ciocco’s top beauty “secret of the stars”?
“Smile. It’s the best exercise you can do for your face.”
You can buy her products at one of my favorite sites, http://ohmycream.com
Sure, you giggle. But this before and after photo is pretty much spot on. Leonor Greyl’s hair treatment is not only a magically transformative and beautifying experience, but it is definitely the most relaxing hour imaginable. You know those few minutes when you get your hair cut and someone massages your scalp and you never, ever want it to end? Imagine an hour of that. Only 10x better, bien sur. It’s like sending your hair to its own spa. With your scalp, neck and shoulders along for the ride. The treatment is adapted to each person according to their needs du jour – mine involved giving my limp locks more volume and nourishing them from the outside in with many of my favorite ingredients from the inside out like seaweed, essential oils, quinoa and avocado. This included a long and amazingly wonderful massage, rinse and application of oils and sticking my head into a crazy-looking machine that I am sure would have transported me to Mars had I stayed in for just a few more minutes. (Matt Damon, I’m coming to plant vegetables with you.) The brand is way ahead of others (sorry, but it’s just too easy) with a mix of products that are all natural, but that actually work. After the treatment, I had a lovely blowout and fun afternoon with the friendly team at the Institut Leonor Greyl, right in the center of the très chic Madeleine neighborhood.
This is my (not very) little secret favorite way to spoil moi when in Paris and I highly recommend it when in town. Can you hair me now?
I have OMmazing news – there are more and more fabulous yoga spots opening all across Paris! While I still keep a place in my heart for the original studios like Rasa Yoga, Be Yoga, Big Apple Yoga and Le Klay, it’s great to discover new places, particularly beautiful and spacious ones with – gasp! – friendly people inside. Why the gasp you ask ? When I first started yoga-ing in Paris many moons ago, it was a stretch (pun very much intended, have we met?) to get anyone to smile at the yoga classes I attended. Everyone was so serious. A sample scene: Me: “Bonjour!” Very chic French woman next to me: “Pardon, you’re in my aura.” True story. Today, however, yoga has become much more mainstream and … fun !
Most yoga studios offer different disciplines and classes with a variety of instructors from many backgrounds so that each person can find a type of yoga that fits into his or her lifestyle.
I am particularly fond of two new studios that just opened recently.
I already love Le Tigre Yoga Club in the 16th arrondissement, but now Le Tigre has opened a Left Bank spot (just behind Le Bon Marché) with a huge, beautiful space and good vibes all around. They even have a built-in juice bar à la Juice It complete with healthy (all-veg !) meals and snacks, an in-house shop offering the best books around (cough cough, you can find mine there) and clothing (oh hey, Lululemon and Lole!). Despite looking like a fancy schmancy sports club filled with Paris’ beautiful people, Le Tigre Yoga is actually very welcoming and friendly. Je love ! They offer so many classes in English too – check the schedule !
Omm ! studio is located off of the rue Turenne in le Marais, not far from the Place des Vosges. This off-the-beaten-path spot is off of a small side street and through a secret alleyway. Inside is a luminous studio complete with a cute tea room filled with wellness magazines and yogis from le neighborhood and beyond.
I highly recommend a Qi Gong class with Franck, an expert in Shiatsu whose Qi Gong class is accessible and practical and so comforting.
There’s nothing new about legendary fashion Mecca Colette, but this concept store has been particularly à la green & glam mode lately with their special exhibits and ephemeral collections focusing on amazing artists.
This summer, the amazing Jeremyville brought his brilliant world to Colette. This Sydney-born, Brooklyn-residing artistic genius graced the walls of the shop through the end of August. Thanks to a beautiful display à la Studio Jeremyville’s Creative Director the lovely Megan Mair, the exhibit also played host to the worldwide launch of Jeremyville’s first book of Community Service Announcements, a vegetable-friendly, positive energy-infused blend of illustrations and simple yet poetic messages to “Live Life Sunny Side Up.”
According to Jeremy, “To me, art should have something to say, communicate a message, a feeling, and yes, even try to change the world. I never just try to create a cool or style driven image, to me that’s the least important part of art. It should stand for something, provoke inner thought, and alter the way you see yourself and the world. That’s the true power of art, and of an unforgettable image. Connecting with another person in a real and meaningful way, is the most important thing that art can do.” Oh OUI !
Then, Steven Harrington launched his “Wavy Days” exhibit in September. I loved everything about this Paris-meets-LA exhibit from the colorful artwork to the theme, a self-effacing, humorous look at finding inner peace. Think: great titles like “Fuck, wish me luck,” “I think the grass really is greener” and “Damn, I just need to chill.” Here’s what the artist had to say: “But, in taking an honest look at my feelings, I’ve discovered that most of my anxiety is really of my own making – a pointless waste of emotional energy over things in this world that I simply cannot control. Sometimes life just happens. Through these paintings, I have found a way to deal with my own anxiety. To me, the paintings have become a way of making fun of these annoying moments and worrisome voices that I have in my head.” -Steven Harrington
Finally – and catch him while you can! – “Elyx” (aka his alter ego the talented digital artist YAK, Yacine Ait Kaci, set up shop, painting the walls of the Water Bar with his unique illustrations and photos. This self-described “smile ambassador” travels the globe with a pen and paper and a sense of humor and generosity to spread good vibes everywhere he goes. The book is a beautiful journal of his exciting travels and the perfect café-table accessory !
She’s my new best friend.
We haven’t met yet, but Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is so incredibly awesome I don’t even know where to begin.
I receive a daily email from the City of Paris press department detailing her schedule for the day and I am not quite sure if and when this woman ever sleeps. From organizing a “day without cars” to passing measures to encourage urban farming to simply being the first mayor of the city in history, this woman is so très cool. She supported her city through one of its toughest times after January’s Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket attacks and was part of one of the mot stunning displays of solidarity anywhere in the world. She’s insisted she be addressed as Madame la maire, instead of the traditional and grammatically correct le maire. She also seems to be quite friendly and smiley, the only reason for which I can think of is that she is of course …. not French ! (She’s from the Spanish province of Cadiz and moved to Lyon as a child.) She’s on a mission to greenify Paris, supporting the Véliberté Egalité Franternité of the city with the Vélib bikes and Autolib electric cars and rumor has it she may be lanching a Scooterlib free moped system. She also supports more pedestrian walkways (as a pedestrian constantly avoiding said Vélib bikes, crazy French drivers and pigeons, this would be most welcome, merci Madame La Maire). Long live la Maire !
STAY TUNED FOR PART DEUX OF MY FAVORITE GREEN THINGS … !
PS If you haven’t bought my book yet, it is of course LE SCANDALE ! Check it out here !