A few weeks ago I went with Carol from Paris Breakfasts to the newly renovated L’Institut Guerlain on the Champs Elysees.
It was French luxury in its purest, most unadulterated form from top to bottom, from the littlest detail, like a doorknob, to the utmost extravagant displays.
The publicist gave us a thorough tour of the three-story boutique and spa that lasted almost 90 minutes. She told us the fascinating history of the esteemed perfume house, plus lengthy details about the construction and design and all the special services they offer.
We started on the top floor where the spa/Institut is located, entering into the Jean-Michel Frank vestibule (Jean-Michel Frank and Diego Giacometti designed all the original furniture when the spa was first opened in 1939). Softly walking through the corridors of the spa with special slippers they made us wear, we made our way to the Orchid Room, a serene waiting room for the spa with a hanging orchid garden and cushy sofas and plush club chairs where ladies of leisure waiting for their treatments sipped Guerlain tea (yes, they even make their own tea) from delicate teacups. I just wanted the tour to end there and laze around on the sofa eating petit fours.
There were nine spa rooms and each had gorgeous Opera Fantastico style marble sink consoles. We learned each spa treatment was made to measure and clients did a private consultation with a specialist before they designed their treatment. The spa has a variety of over 300 types of massages including Body Listening Ritual, The “Guerlain Massage”, and the Imperial Relaxing Ritual, where you are enveloped in the Eau de Cologne Imperiale. (I bet you smell like a million bucks after that).
The second floor was where most of the fragrances were displayed along with original bottles of Guerlain’s most famous fragrances. We learned the history of the fragrances and the design of the bottles and we surprisingly learned Guerlain started off as soap makers. In 1828, chemist Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain opened his first boutique at 42 rue de Rivoli, now the Meurice Hotel. Five generations later, Guerlain has produced over 850 fragrances and some of their most iconic perfumes include Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, Eau de Cologne Impériale, and Samsara. We also learned Guerlain invented the modern day lipstick in a tube in 1870. The bee motif is heavily used in many bottles and in the displays and is based on bee emblem of Napoleon. A temporary art installation in the entrance foyer had floating gold bee sculptures hanging from the ceiling. Another cool thing on the second floor was a selection of leather gloves scented with Guerlain perfumes.
We were shown a special private room where wealthier clients can relax while having a perfume custom made for them which takes 18 months at a cost of 40,000 euros.
One side of the main floor had original counters made of 12 different marbles from the 1828 boutique and the other side was fully modern with sleek counters and fun displays of Guerlain’s newest hit fragrance La Petite Robe Noir.
Downstairs was a whimsical counter with sumptuous pastries by chef Guy Martin and a restaurant and tearoom with a menu also by Martin.
L’Institut Guerlain, 68 Champs-Elysees was designed by New York architect Peter Marino and took three years to complete.
To top our fabulous fantasy perfume afternoon we were given a bag of parting gifts (just like the game shows!), and it included a scented candle, lipstick (unfortunately it wasn’t my shade) and a bottle of Parfum du 68, a fragrance created exclusively for the boutique by head perfumer Thierry Wasser.
L’Institut Guerlain, 68 Champs-Elysees
68 Ave. Champs Elysees, 75008
Metro: Franklin Roosevelt
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
Tours cost 210 euros for up to 3 people, and 70 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com
Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour