Paris is the capital of the world of beauty, so it’s not surprising that many industry experts come to appreciate this inspiring city. New York-based Dr Amy Wechsler, an internationally lauded dermatologist and a skincare adviser to Chanel, is more passionate than most, having regularly visited the City of Light for almost three decades. Here, she opens her Parisian shopping bags and address book …
Why do you love Paris so much?
Paris is everything I want in a city. It has the best food (including butter, chocolate, tea, jam, and bread), architecture … and family as well. I first went to Paris in 1991, the summer right after graduating college, and then got to explore it as somewhat of an insider starting in 1996 after I married my first husband whose family lived there. They are my family to this day, and because of them and my work with Chanel for almost a decade, I have been able to explore this incredible city.
Visiting Paris with Chanel sounds like a dream! What have been some of these highlights?
I’ve had the good fortune to attend some of the Chanel fashion shows at the Grand Palais – both couture and ready-to-wear. These shows are always grand events that feel like the best theatre I could ever attend.
I was lucky enough to meet Karl Lagerfeld backstage after one of these shows, and that’s an incredible memory.
What are your favourite beauty experiences in Paris?
I do love the Ritz Spa, which is now a Chanel Spa. I love the pedicures and massages.
French pharmacies are lauded for their skincare — which pharmacie products do you most rate?
I love French sunscreens and I also love French toothbrushes, lip balm, makeup remover, body lotion. I have even bought French lactase enzyme pills when I run out. I’m lactose intolerant, so I need them to eat dairy (and I eat a lot of dairy in Paris!) If my kids are with me they get frustrated at how long I spend in the pharmacy!
Which other French products should other beauty lover buy when in Paris?
- Chanel Skincare. I co-created La Solution 10 with Chanel. It’s a moisturiser for sensitive skin, is fragrance-free, only has ten ingredients, won’t clog pores, and has silver needle white tea in it, which is a strong antioxidant.
- Bio Derma. I like their sensitive skin makeup remover.
- Rogé Cavaillès Extra Mild Surgras Soap.
- Biafine body lotion.
While we’re talking retail therapy, do you have any other top Parisian shopping addresses?
- Maison Labiche (above) for embroidered tee shirts and sweatshirts.
- APC for handbags.
- Merci for homewares.
What do you always pack for Paris?
Sneakers, a scarf, and I leave extra room in my suitcase for purchases.
What’s the best souvenir you’ve ever bought in Paris?
Le Beurre Bordier.
Which brings us nicely to the important Parisian subject of food! What are your top gourmet buys when in town?
Le Bonbon au Palais for sweets, Patrick Roger for chocolates, Berthillon for ice cream and Comptoirs Richard for jam.
What’s your ultimate Parisian breakfast?
Mariage Frères breakfast tea, chouquettes, yoghurt, fruit in season, and eggs or crêpes.
What about lunch?
Breizh Café (109, Rue Vieille du Temple 75003). I order a savoury crêpe, side salad and then a sweet crêpe for dessert. The hardest part is choosing among all of the different crêpes!
And if you have a hankering for afternoon tea?
Le Meurice (above) because of pâtissier Cédric Grolet. Or Mariage Frères. I LOVE tea (and I don’t drink coffee), and I always spend a lot of time in a Mariage Frères picking the brains of the salespeople about teas.
Where do you most like to go for apéro cocktails?
Bar Hemingway at the Ritz for its history.
And finally in food, where do you recommend for dinner?
Le Petit Lutetia (107, Rue de Sèvres 75006). The food is incredible, the ambience is awesome, and the owner now recognises me so I feel like a local.
You sound like you’re almost a local! Where’s your favourite place to stay when in town?
I like to stay at the Peninsula in the 16th arrondissement because it’s central but quiet, and the service is impeccable.
Do you have a preferred time of year to visit?
I love spring in Paris because of the cherry blossoms and the usually lovely weather: not too hot or too cold, and perfect for walking everywhere. But I’ve also spent time in Paris in the extreme cold and extreme hot and I still love it!
What’s a favourite attraction?
Musée d’Orsay is my ultimate museum because it has some of my favourite paintings from Klimt and Renoir, plus I love the views from the windows and terraces.
What’s your most treasured Parisian memory?
When I spent an afternoon with my kids, Zoe and Jaden, about ten years ago, at the playground in the Luxembourg Gardens. We paid one Euro to get in and all took turns on the big Tarzan swing. Afterwards we had barbe à papa (cotton candy), and I remember how much we laughed that day.
I also remember an amazing bicycle ride in the Bois de Boulogne with my Uncle Gerard – he died unexpectedly 3 years ago and I miss him daily.
What do you plan to do when next in Paris?
Try to take another class at Le Cordon Bleu. My daughter and I took a two-day baking class in March, and we had the most amazing time with Chef Olivier Boudot.
I also plan to someday spend a few weeks to a month in Paris to really immerse myself and become more local.
If you only had one day in Paris, you’d …
I would order a big room service breakfast at the Peninsula, then I would walk to the Tuileries, pick up sandwiches and head to either the Bois de Boulogne, Place des Vosges, or Jardin du Luxembourg to eat. Then I’d walk around Le Marais and stock up on chocolate, tea, jam, and butter.