Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Travel Diary: Sofitel Biarritz le Miramar Thalassa Sea & Spa

Travel Diary Sofitel

I wanted to start your new year with one of my favorite travel diaries from the Sofitel Biarritz. After the Paris Beauty 2014, we headed to Biarritz via Rail Europe, in the South of France to experience true thalassotherapy. Thalassotherapy is the use of sea water as therapy. Since the Sofitel Biarritz le Miramar Thalassa Sea & Spa is located on the sea it was a great place to start the journey.

In France spas are considered a part of wellness. It’s not just for a birthday or mother’s day present. It is as essential as going to the doctor for a regular checkup. It helps lower blood pressure, rejuvenate and reinvigorate. The hotel is located on the cusp of Basque country. It’s only a 30 minute drive to Spain. The hotel is one of the luxury hotels in the area with sea views from every room. It boasts a spa obviously, salon, fitness center, bar and restaurants. The property is small and intimate and it is a getaway. This hotel is luxury personified.

The luxury hotel by the sea was a great introduction in the world of thalassotherapy. Stay tuned for posts on my fabulous spa treatments.

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Sofitel Biarritz
13 rue Louison Bobet
64200 Biarritz

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Atout France – France Tourism Development Agency and Sofitel Biarritz. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for All About the Pretty and Luxe Beauty Journeys.


Holiday Gift Guide 2014 – The Traveler

Traveler Gift Guide

As a frequent traveler there are certain items I need when traveling. It has taken me a few years, but I have it down to a science. My toiletries are always packed and ready to go, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things that I should add to my travel repertoire.

Tumi Alpha 2 International Expandable Four Wheeled Carry-On. I’m a huge fan of Tumi suitcases. My current carry-on has been to four continents and it’s just getting started. I really want a four wheel suitcase and all I can think about this Tumi one. Tumi makes quality luggage and this one has my heart beating.

Flight 001 Spacepak. I have never used a Spacepak, but my friend Carol swears by them. On my trip to California next year I’m going to give them a go. We will see how it goes.

Gigi New York Jessica Zipper Tote. I go through travel totes often. I need it to hold my MacAir, iPad, Kindle, magazines, wallet, cosmetic case, and other items. I usually have a tote that is open, but this Gigi New York tote has a zipper on top which will protect my belongings.

Kindle Voyage. And speaking of my Kindle, I never leave home without it. I love real books. I do, but for traveling and saving my back and shoulders I go electronic. My chiropractor and acupuncturist thanks me too. I usually pack one real book in my carry-on. If I’m traveling over 10 days I will pack books in a checked bag that I don’t plan on bringing back home.

Moleskin Passions Travel Journal. I love recording my thoughts and keeping track of my travels. A travel journal allows me to save receipts, make notes of restaurants, and things that I would normally miss. I also like putting pen to paper. I don’t have to worry about accidentally deleting a note.

Sol Republic Punk Speaker. I listen to music and podcasts when traveling and this speaker allows me to not be tied down to my phone or iPod. It’s wireless Bluetooth syncs with my computer or phone and I can dance and rock out in my hotel room.

FRENDS Ella Earbuds. Call me old school, but I don’t like headphones. They hurt my ears and I have tried on them all. I stick to good earbuds that also double as a microphone. They are also gorgeous as well.

Travel Diary: Paris Beauty Tour 2014 – Paradis Latin Cabaret


Paris is known for their cabarets. To most people the famous cabaret was a popular Oscar-nominted movie, but Paradis Latin Cabaret is actually older than the one known in the movies. The cabaret was designed by Gustav Eiffel, the designer behind the Eiffel Tower. Paradis Latin has over 50 dancers and can accommodate over 700 guests for dinner and the show. We were treated to a behind the designs and backstage tour. As you can see from the photos the dancers have perfected their stage makeup. I spoke with the dancers’ captain Vanina Rouvier and she told me they can do their entire face in 30 minutes. Wow. She states she rarely wears makeup outside of her job. The key she said to maintaining their flawless skin is lots of water, CILS makeup remover, and rest.

Our group, the American bloggers, had a table in the center of all the action. At one point the arobatics of part of the show literally had us knocking over our drinks because we weren’t ready for how close we were to part of the show. The cabaret’s dinner menu consists of a fixed menu and wine. Each table has champagne to start to toast the evening and the closing. I try to eat as much foie gras as I can when I’m in France and the one at Paradis Latin didn’t disappointment. The kitchen is the original kitchen and the food is prepared fresh upon order. Let’s just say restaurant week in America can take a cue on how to feed 700 people with food made to order

The cabaret features nudity, but it is tasteful. It’s not just a T&A show and the dancing is impeccable. They have 5 male dancers and the show features various dancing, but it’s the Can-Can dance that takes the show. The cabaret offers Can-Can classes and I think it would be a lot of fun to learn the dance in France.

The cabaret’s visitors are mainly French. Let that sink in for a minute. Seventy percent of the guests each night are French. If it’s good enough for them, then it is good enough for me.

Paradis Latin Cabaret
28 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine
Paris, France 75005
Metro: Cardinal Lemoine





































This post is brought to you in collaboration with Atout France – France Tourism Development Agency and Paradis Latin Cabaret. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for All About the Pretty and Luxe Beauty Journeys.

Travel Diary: Paris Beauty Tour 2014 – French Beauty Shopping at Pharmacie Monge


After expanding our fragrance wardrobe and lunch it was time to visit a traditional French pharmacy – Pharmacie Monge and the soon to be opened Perfumerie Monge. Pharmacie Monge is one of the largest pharmacies in the city with over 2500 visitors a day.

First, let’s discuss Parisian pharmacies. Pharmacies in Paris sell a plethora of skin and beauty brands. It’s more than a drugstore. It’s a beauty destination where women get high end and every day products, as well as, pick up prescriptions. Pharmacie Monge actually consists of three different stores next to each other – beauty, home, baby. Think of all the French brands you see in the states including Clarins, Caudalie, and Nuxe. They are all in the pharmacie and a few items you can’t find in the states such as the Caudalie Fig Fragrance, Biguine makeup, La Roche Posay makeup and Eucerin’s ph5 Oil Bodywash which I had to have.

My adoration of the pharmacy is to stock up on all the items I can’t find in the U.S. and the ones that are 4 times as expensive because they are imported. The two important ones are Avibon, which they don’t make any more, but I found a replacement Fletagex and Homeoplasmine. Avibon/Fletagex are pure retinol, also known as, Vitamin A. Retinol is the one product that will diminish the appearance of wrinkles and this product is thick like an ointment. It’s made a significant difference in my laugh lines over the past few years. The other product is Homeoplasmine. This ointment is good for cuts, burns, rashes, and it works fast. If I burn myself cooking I apply this before anything else. Voila, healed.

Many of the ladies were new to the French pharmacie experience which is a madhouse. Imagine Black Friday shopping, but on a regular day. It’s worth it. I am a huge fan of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir and have been for years. I never step foot on a plane without one. It’s half the price here. You know I stocked up.

Pharmacie Monge has just opened a perfumery across the street. I can’t wait to bring the group back next year for visit.

Pharmacie Monge
74 Rue Monge
Paris, France 75005
Metro: Place Monge


{Ricardo of My Paris VIP having fun with us!}



{The participants were gifted with a 100 Euros to shop!}


{The now open Perfumerie Monge}


{Carmen blowing a kiss to all these French beauty products.}

{Homeoplasmine get in my basket!}


 {Beauty shopping is hard work!}

Beauty shopping

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Atout France – France Tourism Development Agency, My Paris VIP, and Pharmacie Monge. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for All About the Pretty and Luxe Beauty Journeys.

Paris Beauty Tour 2014 – Lunch at La Taverna with My Paris VIP and the Pharmacie Monge Team

La Taverna

The group was treated to lunch by Ricardo of My Paris VIP and the Pharmacie Monge Team. La Taverna is located in the heart of the seventh district on the Champ de Mars. The restaurant is owned by Chef Didier who also owns Café Blue Roi at Versailles.. The restaurant is small, quaint, and has amazing food. They actually make their bread in house.

The meal was a great way to discuss what makes Paris so special and the French joie de vivre thanks to Ricardo. Our hosts were lively and explained the misconceptions of the French. He explained the dance of greeting that happens in shops. In America we typically walk into a store and expect them to greet us. In France, it’s the opposite. The customer says hello first and the relationship begins. If you are used to speaking before greeting I highly suggest not doing that in Paris.

Our menu consisted of appetizers, a delicious main course and dessert. Before lunch I asked the participants to put away their phones. I know this is hard in the U.S., but you don’t see people disconnecting with their dining companions as much in France. The meal was over two hours which is normal outside of the states. It was more pleasurable due to the fact we were all present. I understand the distraction of technology, but it was great just experiencing a meal without wondering if I needed to check email.

La Taverna
22 Rue du Champ de Mars
75007 Paris, France
Metro: École Militaire










This post is brought to you in collaboration with Atout France – France Tourism Development Agency, My Paris VIP and Pharmacie Monge. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for All About the Pretty and Luxe Beauty Journeys.

Travel Diary: Paris Beauty Tour 2014 – Olfactive Studios + Céline Verleur


I discovered Olfactive Studios in April while in California. I had just taken an amazing yoga class with my friend Mary Beth and decided to head to Abbot Kinney Boulevard to look around and explore. Abbott Kinney is known as a shopping street, but with small boutique shops that cater to an eclectic crowd. I walked into the store Bazaar and the first thing I noticed was a distinct bottle of fragrance. It was square, the font on the packaging was clean, and the top resembled something I couldn’t explain. I sniffed each of the five fragrances, but the one that spoke to me was Still Life. Still Life has notes of yuzu, pink pepper, black pepper, dark rum, and cedar. I immediately was hooked and couldn’t stop thinking and dreaming about the fragrance. I decided to grab lunch and while at lunch I decided I couldn’t leave California without Still Life. I needed this fragrance in the beauty arsenal.

When I was deciding who I wanted to work with for the Paris Beauty Tour I wanted to reach out to Olfactive Studios. The brand is the collaboration of perfume and photography which is a different concept for a fragrance brand. No celebrity factor, thank goodness! No big, bold and crazy ad space taking over what the fragrances are about. The idea is fragrance as art. Olfactive Studios is the brainchild of Céline Verleur, the creative director. After numerous emails and Skype calls the date was set. On Friday morning, we headed to Jovoy, a rare perfume boutique in Paris to meetCéline, discuss the concept of Olfactive Studios, and to explore fragrance as part of our personalities. Jovoy only sells one thing – fragrances from all over the world and some of the most exquisite and rare essences created. I was a kid in a fragrance candy store. Jovoy also has their own line of fragrances and candles and I’m dreaming of returning to get their amber candle. It was my fault I didn’t pick it up before I left.

Céline gave us the background and concept of Olfactive Studios. To create fragrances based on photography instead of a fragrance for men and women. In Paris, many fragrances are created as unisex and can be worn by men and women. The marketing doesn’t place gender on the fragrances. Céline works with various photographers and perfumers or noses to create the scent. For example, Lumière Blanc or White Light is based on a photo by Massimo Vitali. The photo was taken in Sicily, Italy, but when viewed looks as if it was taken during the winter. She wanted a scent that can be worn to bed and was soft. It’s a beautiful scent and I can see wearing it on those days I want to be home relaxing and reading and want a soft scent to wear around the house.


I chose Chambre Noir or Darkroom. The photo by Mercy René-Bazin drew me. There was something about the light and the hotel room that I couldn’t place until Céline informed me the photo was taken in Egypt. The beauty light bulb went off. I got engaged in front of the pyramids of Egypt therefore it holds a special place to me. Chambre Noir smells like Egypt. I have been in the mood for more masculine based scents. I can’t get enough of anything with a patchouli base. Chambre Noir has notes of sandalwood, patchouli, musk, vanilla, violet, and leather. I can’t wait to wear this fragrance in the summer as well when the heat is high because it’s going to change the composition of the fragrance and the heat is going to make the scent even more enjoyable.

Jovoy Perfumes
4 Rue Castiglione
Paris, France 75001
Metro: Tuileries

{The scent that started it all}


{Various scents in Jovoy}















{Roja and his Amber Aoud had me tearing up in Bergdorf’s.}






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The brains and visionary behind this amazing brand – Céline}



This post is brought to you in collaboration with Atout France – France Tourism Development Agency, Jovoy Rare Perfumes, and Olfactive Studios. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for All About the Pretty and Luxe Beauty Journeys.

Travel Diary: Paris Beauty Tour 2014 – Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette is considered in Paris one of the grand magasins or department store. It’s massive. It’s a total of 4 separate buildings and the main building over 120 years old with a beautiful glass dome 102 years. Let’s think about that for a minute. The department store encompasses over 3 city blocks. Bigger is definitely better in Paris. The store has fashion and beauty, but jewelry, a men’s store, a home store and a food emporium.


Galeries Lafayette has niche fashion and beauty brands and there is so much to see. All the major French beauty brands are represented along with some smaller batch beauty brands such as Nivea Cosmetics. Yes, Nivea has a massive cosmetic line that includes more than lip balms in France. A few of the top brands in Paris at Galeries Lafayette are Dior, Sisley, and L’Artisan Perfumeur.


Sisley skincare is what sealed my love of luxury beauty products. I was in Paris and my teacher’s skin was flawless. Seriously. You will notice most women in Paris have amazing skin. The belief that pretty makeup looks good on pretty skin is evident. I couldn’t stop staring at her. I asked what she used and she said, “Sisleya by Sisley will transform you.” Needless to say I used all my francs (no Euro at the time) before I came home to purchase the moisturizer. I was hooked. I was already a skin junkie, but this put it over the edge. I was a goner – French beauty for life.


At Galeries Lafayette Sisley premier products rain supreme and the lovely ladies are very knowledge about the product. Ask any question and they have an answer.


YSL in my opinion is one of the best luxury French brands. If you don’t own their No. 1 lipstick Le Rouge, I suggest you make a beeline and purchase it. You need it in your lifestyle. It’s a perfect red for all shades and is so moisturizing that you might actually think you applied a gloss when you didn’t. They are known for their Touche Eclat concealer, which I love, but for me it’s their eye and lip products that are transforming.


My love of fragrance knows no bounds. Some women wake up in the morning and decide what they want to wear based on their mood. I do the same only with scent. The clothes are secondary. The woman I want to be some days prefers soft scents and other days a fragrance that is bold and unapologetically in your face. Which happens to be my personality.


I know that Dior is one brand that moves me emotionally. Dior Private Collection scents are vast in ranges, but trust me you won’t smell like anyone else. My favorites are Oud Ispahan, Grand Bal, and Bois D’Argent. The new exclusive just lauched at Galeries Lafayette and I was eyeing them hard. I hope the husband is reading this post because the Oud has my name on it although I will have to come back to Paris to pick it up. It’s okay. There are daily flights from Dulles to Charles de Gaulle sweetie. Thank you.


Galeries Lafayette is more than just shopping and an amazing view from the terrace. They also have an in department store museum. Yes, you read that correctly. A museum on the 1st floor that once you walk in you forget you are in a store. The exhibitions change every three month.
The store also has one of the best rooftop views in all of Paris.
40 Blvd. Haussmann
Paris, France 75009
Metro: Havre Caumartin
{The ceiling of Galeries Lafayette}
{The prettiest store on the planet}
{A little obsessed with Dior’s Private Collection Fragrances}
{Sisley Cosmetics}
{Kenya’s daytime smoky eye from YSL Cosmetics.}
{YSL’s latest fragrance Black Opium}
{ L’Artisan Parfumeur}
{Fragrance orbs at L’Artisan}
{Museum inside Galeries Lafayette}
{Views from the rooftop terrace}
{The Food Store}
{After a day of beauty it was all about eating – a burger with steak frites and red wine!}
This post is brought to you in collaboration with Atout France – France Tourism Development Agency and Galeries Lafayette. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for All About the Pretty and Luxe Beauty Journeys.

Travel Diary: Paris Beauty Tour 2014 – Le Labo Fragrances

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We started our first journey into French beauty at Le Labo Fragrances. Le Labo is short for “the laboratory” and the boutique definitely resembles a lab. Although the fragrances are available in the U.S. learning about the history of the brand, at the original store, is the real reason I wanted to visit. The fragrance company was started in Paris and there is something about having the experience there. Also, this was right before we found out Estee Lauder had purchased Le Labo. This made it extra special.

Agatha at Le Labo gave us the history behind the scents and the process for making the fragrances. In Europe many scents are unisex. They aren’t marketed to one gender, which means you are free to explore. I love masculine scents as well and often times I get a weird look for admitting I wear men’s fragrances. You fall for a fragrance based on who you want to be at the time.

Le Labo Fragrances are all hand created at the time of your purchase. What this process means is you pick your scent. I prefer Vanille 44 and Santal 33. The number represents the extra number of ingredients in each of the fragrances. The vanilla 44 extra ingredients to create a sexy and musk vanilla scented fragrance. Also, Vanille 44 is only available at Le Labo Paris boutiques.

Once you have selected your Le Labo fragrance the fragrance mixoligist as I like to call them gathers all the ingredients from their refrigerator as you watch the process of the scents being measured, poured, and created. It’s a wonderful feeling to experience something so personal. After the fragrance is bottled then the label process begins. You are asked what you want on the label. Patricia’s Ambrette 9 label has “2014 Paris Beauty Tour.” Beautimous!

6 Rue de Bourbon Le Chateau
Paris, France 75006
Metro: Saint Germain des Pres
 {Inside Le Labo}
{I love the laboratory feel of the space.}
{I can never have too many candles.}
{A spicy and sexy vanilla fragrance}
 {Santal 33 is one of Le Labo’s most popular scents}
{Oud all day, everyday}
{Travel size}
 {Creating the fragrance}
{Ingredients in the refrigerator ready to be made into your chosen scent}
{Lianne’s Lys 41}
{Patricia’s Ambrette 9 with the Paris Beauty Tour 2014 name}
 {With Agatha who gave us an exclusive on Le Labo}
 {Le Labo has boutiques around the world, but the original Paris location is a must visit.}
This post is brought to you in collaboration with Atout France – France Tourism Development Agency and Le Labo Fragrances. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for All About the Pretty and Luxe Beauty Journeys.

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