Visiting the Birchbox shop in Paris!

Birchbox shop front in Paris

It’s always a treat going to Paris, but on my third visit to the city (shameless brag) I had the extra treat of visiting Europe’s first ever Birchbox shop.  From a tiny subscription box to their second brick and mortar store – now that’s a pretty big deal. (In fact I used the same words when first seeing the news of its opening too!)

As a Birchbox subscriber from 2014, I felt it was my duty to give the Birchbox store a visit.  Although one is partial to bit of beauty shopping anyway, especially when one is in Paris!  So for any subscriber or non-subscribers out there who might be interested in just how a beauty subscription box has flowered into the physical retail store, here’s a bit of a run-down.

Birchbox store front in Paris

Where is the Birchbox shop in Paris?

Even I was impressed when I realised the Birchbox shop in Paris is located in the 1st Arrondissement.  Sitting in a trendy shopping area on Rue Montmartre, the Birchbox shop won’t be the only shop you’ll want to have a look around in the area as it’s in quite a trendy spot.

The nearest metro stations are Marcel Etienne and Les Halles, that are both on line 4.  In fact, as always in Paris, you are never far from some art and culture too; Centre Pompidou is just a 5/6 minute walk away.  C’est bonne!

What is in the Birchbox shop?

The exterior of the shop certainly suits its surroundings (in other words; it has a Parisenne style to it.)  The interior has a welcoming ambience, with an open layout and classic ‘clean’ decor.  It could easily be mistaken to be one of the classy French pharmacies I love dipping into whenever (and wherever) I am in the country.

There’s a lot of white, with a splash of pastel colours in places, with wooden shelving and floors.  Non-surprisingly, it feels quite ‘on brand’.

Counter inside Birchbox shop

Inside view of the Birchox Paris shop

What’s in the Birchbox shop?

All of the brands we’ve seen neatly packed into our Birchbox adorn the walls and shelves in the shop, but all in full-size of course.  Although there are some other brands too that we may never see in our subscription (namely Lancôme, but this is a French brand and I was in France, so I guess this makes sense.)

Towards the back of the store were sweet dispenser-like storage boxes that were filled to the brim of more beauty samples!  This is where you can create your own Birchbox in store – a temptation I didn’t resist and I just love the way this was presented.

Creating my own Birchbox

How could I not delve in and pretend – quite literally – that I was a kid in a (kind of) candy shop.  For €15 I jumped straight into making my own box, which consisted of 5 samples (as usual) to be handpicked by me!  Each category (face, body, hair, make up and surprise) had a choice of three items to choose from.

Birchbox Paris shop

As is tradition when I write Birchbox unboxing posts, I give a lowdown on each product I received.  Here’s the items that stood out for me (and those I took back home to the UK!):

  • Face choice:  DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
    I’d never tried a cleansing oil before, so this sample caught my eye immediately.  As expected it leaves my skin feeling quite supple and lovely.
    Other choices: An anti-ageing cream by Huygens or a cream for sensitive skin (brand forgotten – sorry!).
  • Body choice: L’Occitane Cherry Blossom Hand Cream
    L’Occitane’s hand creams are an absolute dream. I was lucky enough to receive another one in my Birchbox subscription, but I wasn’t to know that yet.
    Other choices:  I think I remember seeing a Spectrum Wonder Sponge and sadly I can’t recall the other choice!
  • Hair choice: Minu Shampoo and Conditioner
    This was an easy choice for me!  This is where I think I got more ‘bang for my buck’ as I could pick two items for one category.  Minu aren’t a brand I’ve heard of but I’m looking forward to trying these out.
    Other choices:  Baptiste Dry Shampoo for Brown hair (not my hair colour) or a Jeff Parlor spray (I had already received).
  • Make up choice:  Ciaté Nail Varnish
    This choice nearly had me stumped, but I’m a sucker for glossy reds and so I had to pop this nail varnish into my box.  (And lucky I did too because I received the other items anyway!)
    Other choices: Paul & Joe Hydrating Primer (I received here) or Eyeko Fat Eyeliner (I received here).
  • Surprise choice:  A scarf
    In an attempt to pull off Parisienne style, I had to go for the scarf.  I’m not usually a scarf wearer but I thought it’ll always remind me of Paris. (Ahh…)
    Other choices:  Some badges or toothpaste.

My created box from the Birchbox Paris store

Where next for Birchbox?

It’s clear to see I enjoyed my Birchbox Paris store visit!  At the time of writing though of course there is a Birchbox shop in London now too, which announced its opening just as I returned from Paris!

The Birchbox shop in Paris is permanent, however the Birchbox London store won’t be around forever and is currently only a pop up shop (open until Thursday 29th March 2018).  I am hoping this will either be extended (again) though, or decide to stick around more permanently.  Especially as I’m yet to make a visit too!

Nevertheless if you do find yourself in Paris, schedule some time for a browse around the Birchbox shop.  The look and feel of the space is relaxing and I didn’t feel pressured to buy, unlike some other beauty halls.  It’s nice to see how far this brand has come and more importantly, what its created in a physical space.

Have you been to the Birchbox shop in Paris or London?  Tell me your experiences in the comments below!

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I have not been asked to write this blog post, as I said, I just wanted to check out the Birchbox shop while I was in Paris!

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What I ate in Paris

Things to eat in Paris

On top of my How I spent 5 days in Paris post, I thought I’d write a separate one on the hearty meals in cosy cafés I discovered when I was there.  A sort of ‘what to eat in Paris’, if you will and we know the French are well-known for being passionate about food, so why not write a food diary?

The French are known for many culinary delights, such as; beef bourguignon, the best fromages as well as idyllic baguettes from dreamy boulangeries.  Even the best desserts and naughty snacks herald from here – hello macarons!

So here’s a few things to eat in Paris that I particularly enjoyed.  (Don’t read if you’re hungry.)

Ravioli at Le Rouge Limé

Ravioli in Le Rouge Lime, Paris

Our AirBnb was conveniently close to metro stop Charonne.  And, as it turned out, close to some TripAdvisor tipped restaurants too.  Scanning the website for places to eat around us Le Rouge Limé was particularly loved and had received many good reviews.

So after arriving in Paris and eating a mediocre meal earlier in the day, we settled in amongst its cosy bar/restaurant setting, ordered a bottle of wine and its Ravioli (vegetarian) dish.  (Perhaps not the first dish you think of when looking for the best things to eat in Paris.)  But, the wine and food went down wonderfully and I actually regret not eating here again during my trip.  (So if you’re in this area, pop in for a meal.)

Croque monsieur at Café Le Nazir

What to eat in Paris Croque Monsieur

When you’ve been to Paris before as I have, then you’ll know that you’ll be doing a lot of walking.  So after getting up early, climbing to the top of the Sacré-Cœur and wandering around a bustling Montmartre; my tummy began to rumble.

We stopped off at a corner cafe (Le Nazir), which looked quintessentially French (dark red decor, with aloof waiters) and I knew before looking at the menu that I’d be asking for a croque monsieur.  I always have a croque monsieur when I’m in France, which isn’t the healthiest snack (it’s basically a fried boiled ham and cheese sandwich), so I reserve it for when I’m at my most hungriest!

Side note: there’s also a croque madame, which is the same but topped with a fried egg.

Macarons from anywhere

What to eat in Paris (macarons)

Before heading to Jardin du Luxembourg we picked up some macarons from somewhere in Montmartre.  I’m sure there’ll be some Paris experts that’ll tell you to go to prestigious macaron makers, but I’m really not that fussy when it comes to this meringue-based treat!

So apologies I can’t remember the exact name and place where I bought these macarons.  But I can tell you I went for the following flavours: strawberry, pistachio and champagne.  Délicieux!

Axoa of veal fried potatoes at Le Petit Baïona

Meat at Le Petit Baïona

Another restaurant close to our accommodation, although this time recommended by our Airbnb host, was Le Petit Baïona.  I was quite intrigued, given that it served traditional Basque dishes, a part of France that may seem world’s away from Paris in the deep south.

Although embarassingly this is where my memory escapes me.  I’m sure this was a tender pork meat, served with sautéed potatoes, but I can’t find this in the online menu.  So I’ve labelled this the closest meal to it, (I really should start keeping travel notes…).

Different regions of France are known for different culinary expertise, so although this was a bit meat heavy I was glad to try a different taste from the country.

Tarte Fine de Saison at Publicis Drugstore

Tarte Fine de Saison

It’s so easy to get pulled into French bakeries from just window shopping. This tarte fine de saison is a prime example.  I’d only nipped through Publicis Drugstore to get to an ATM, but these caught my eye.  I picked one up on my way back and munched on it in the queue to the Arc de Triomphe.

Its pastry crumbled away as only French pastry does. But sadly for me there was too many onions in the middle.  Other than that, I have no regrets – always buy something that takes your fancy, you’ll never know you might try your next favourite thing!

Have you tried any culinary delights when visiting Paris?  Let me know in the comments below because I don’t want to miss out on the good stuff!

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How I Spent 5 Days in Paris

How to spend 5 days in Paris

For a city where its grand boulevards look like they’re straight from all the movies, its café culture is magnetising, to even its rooftops applying to be UNESCO World Heritage recognised; it can be hard to decide how to spend 5 days in Paris.

Lucky for me then as I was preparing for my third visit in the city of love at the end of last month, I thought organisation is key.  I knew what to expect, yet I also knew what I had missed in previous visits too.

Whilst this isn’t exactly a guide on the top things to see in Paris you must see – after all, I’m no Parisienne expert – this is more a personal account to inspire any future trip to the French capital.  Which, if the spirit of Paris could speak, then it would tell you too to avoid planning it, discard any Paris itineraries and discover your own secret corners of a city that’ll stay with you for a lifetime.

Day 1

Père Lachaise Cemetary in Paris
Père Lachaise Cemetery… peaceful and beautiful
  • Arrival in Paris
  • Père Lachaise Cemetery

Being from the UK, I may be flying in, catching a train, boarding a coach or even driving into Paris – so I can choose to arrive at any time of the day; early or late.

Whatever time you arrive, don’t overdo it on your first day in Paris. Pick a sight that’s a walkable distance from your hotel, hostel or AirBnb.  For me, that was Père Lachaise Cemetery – an unusual suggestion for those who haven’t been initiated, but probably the most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever wandered within.  (Even in death, Parisienne’s do it in style.)

The final address of famous artists who’ve ever claimed Paris as their home rest here, such as; Edith Piaf, Frédéric Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.  After I dipped my toes in some exploring, I ended my day at a café for dinner with a glass of French wine.

“Even the pigeons are dancing, kissing,
going in circles, mounting each other.
Paris is the city of love,
even for the birds.”

― Samantha Schutz, I Don’t Want To Be Crazy

Day 2

How to spend 5 days in Paris
Montmartre is a dream…
  • Montmartre
  • Sacré-Cœur
  • Jardin du Luxembourg
  • Galeries Lafayette

Whether you have one day in Paris, or two weeks; missing out on Montmartre would be like missing out on the artistic heart of Paris.  Renoir, Van Gogh and Picasso all lived here, so this should set the scene.  Located on the highest hill in Paris, the Sacré-Cœur also sits here and looks over Paris with incredible views.

After walking this quarter’s charming streets, I headed south of the River Seine to stroll around Jardin du Luxembourg.  Dedicated to the children of Paris by Napoléon, these lush gardens make a good spot for a picnic lunch.  (Or just nibbling on some macarons!)

Jardin du Luxembourg Paris
Picnic in Jardin du Luxembourg…

A hidden gem I hadn’t discovered in my previous visits was the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette.  The luxurious department store provides a free view and is a sight to see itself.  (Even though I couldn’t afford any of the designer names within it…)  A stained-glass dome is at the centre of the building and on the clear day when I visited, I snapped some beautiful sunsets of the Paris skyline (Eiffel Tower included) on the top floor; the rooftop.

“… you’ll have to fall in love at least once in your life, or Paris has failed to rub off on you.”

― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

Day 3

Hall of Mirrors Palace of Versailles
Every corner is a wonder in the Palace of Versailles…
  • The Palace of Versailles

The trip from Paris to Versailles (outside of the city) isn’t that long itself.  But the estate is so vast it requires a day, at least, to explore.  I’d missed out on Versailles too in my previous visits and so the former home of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette was a must do for me this time.

It really took my breath away; the palace, Hall of Mirrors and gardens as far as the eye can see.  I didn’t manage to see it all in the 8 hours I had. So if I were to go again, I’d consider hiring a four-person electric car (like golf carts), get around by the shuttle train or rent a bike.

“Paris is a hard place to leave, even when it rains incessantly and one coughs continually from the dampness.”

― Willa Cather

How to spend 5 days in Paris

Day 4

  • Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris isn’t a necessity when you don’t have kids, but considering it’s the only Disney park in Europe I’d have to travel a long way to find another one.

Sadly, I never experienced the *real* magic by visiting when I was young (a lot younger), but I had a blast on my first visit when I was 16.  This time round I particularly noticed how child-focused it really is (which of course it should be).  Or I could just be getting older…  For anyone who loves Disney though, it’s easily accessible from the city of Paris for a day out.

“Paris isn’t a city, it’s a world.”

― Lepota L. Cosmo, Love in Paris – Poetic Guide to the Romance of the City

Day 5

Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Perhaps the most well-known roundabout in Paris.
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Champs-Élysées
  • Eiffel Tower

The famous Arc de Triomphe probably comes second on everyone’s Paris to do list (after the Eiffel Tower, bien sûr.)  Surprisingly, I’d only glimpsed it from the street previously, but even more surprisingly, when arriving at the back of the queue to climb its 284 steps to the top there wasn’t a long wait.  (Most main attractions in Paris have some of the longest queues I’ve seen!)

Now a roundabout, with 12 exits, you can point out a number of other monuments from the sweeping views above it.  (Never try to cross the road, there are underground subways.) I was lucky enough to see Sacré-Cœur all the way in Montmartre!

View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

One of these 12 exits is probably the most famous street in Paris; Avenue de Champs-Élysées. (Beauty lovers: stop off here for Sephora!)  Luckily it’s only 2km long too, so you can stroll past all the designer names that line Paris’s most expensive avenue and reach Place de la Concorde.  If you keep going, through Jardin de la Nouvelle France you’ll reach the Louvre, too.

This time instead of getting lost in the artworks at the Louvre (I have done this before and it’s worth a visit), I indulged in a bit of retail therapy before setting sights on true icon of Paris.

How to spend 5 days in Paris

Queues spiral out of control at the Eiffel Tower, but don’t let this put you off.  (Learn from my mistakes; book in advance!)  The harder decision is to choose which time to venture to the top; during the day or by night.

Paris was more ‘Paris when it drizzles’, rather than ‘Paris when it sizzles’ on my first visit.  Meaning the view from the Eiffel Tower, by day, was almost non-existent.  By night, it quite literally sparkles, every hour on the hour.  Luckily, I went for the latter this time.

How to spend 5 days in Paris

Watch

The next day, sadly I was on the train home.  Have you been to Paris?  What are your favourite things to see and do in Paris?  Share your tips, experiences and in the comments section!

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