Under the arcades of the Palais-Royal, Shiseido's perfumer Serge Lutens practises his aromatic arts. A former photographer at Paris Vogue and artistic director of make-up at Christian Dior, Lutens is a maestro of rare taste.Bottles of his concoctions - Tubéreuse Criminelle, Rahat Loukoum and Ambre Sultan - can be sampled by visitors. Look out for Fleurs d'Oranger, which the great man defines as the smell of happiness. Many of the perfumes are exclusive to the Salons; prices start at around €100.
Perfume & cosmetics
Find your perfect make-up palette or spritz new life into your look with designer scents at these specialist boutiques
The Culture of Color Nail Bar chain is a handy place for a quick manicure when you’re on the go, with 14 branches nestled across town. Nail varnish ranges are unimaginatively named after stars like Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj, but you’re not here for the celebrity association, you’re here for the massive array of quick dry colours – from shocking pink to metallic grey and electric blue – for just 5€. Pop in without an appointment, and then leave ten minutes later with a brand new set of finger nails. Foot manicures (from €36) and fake nails (58€ for all ten fingers) are available too. If you’re in eastern Paris, this branch is in a plum spot near Bastille.
In the magnificently appointed Printemps you'll find everything you didn't even know you wanted and English-speaking assistants to help you find it. But fashion and cosmetics is where it really excels; an entire floor is devoted to shoes, and the beauty department stocks more than 200 brands. In all, there are six floors of men's and women's fashion. In Printemps de la Mode, French designers sit alongside all the big international designers. The Fashion Loft offers a younger but equally stylish take on current trends.
Among scented candles, potpourri and charms, you'll find the best vanilla perfume Paris can offer; and Mûres et Musc (a heady blackberry based perfume), a bestseller for two decades. For those wishing to test their noses, reserve a perfume atelier, during which you learn about the art of perfume making and the olfactory families that make up the scents (from €95). A second workshop also allows you to customize your own perfume (from €170) - a surefire way to make sure that nobody at home will smell like you.
The store has been undergoing a massive renovation programme of late, with the opening of Espace Luxe on the first floor, featuring luxury prêt-à-porter and accessories and nine avant-garde designers. They also unveiled a vast new shoe department in the basement featuring some 150 brands. The cosmetics section on the groundfloor, below the awe-inspiring Art Nouveau glass cupola, is the place to go for make-up demonstrations with dozens of brands - luxury and high street - to choose between.
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