Le Bon Marché department store

Frankly, the Christmas windows were a disappointment. I saw one little boy looking into them, but there wasn’t much to look at. So I went on inside and spent a good two hours walking around.


The New York equivalents to Le Bon Marché, I guess, would be Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys. My favorite place to wander here is in the gorgeous Housewares department. In 2013 the entire store underwent a massive renovation. This, in my opinion, has its pros and cons. As dazzling as the new store is, there are things that I miss about the old store. Example: Le Bon Marché used to have a Hats, Scarves, and Gloves department in the middle of the main floor that I loved. All items were casually displayed on tables and you could easily help yourself and try them on. The scarves in particular were out of this world. That’s all gone now. Cold metallic counters and display cases are now in place on the ground floor. The friendly coziness has gone. 

I wrote a post about this very topic last year when I went into another favorite department store looking to buy a simple skillet. I only found luxury, unaffordable skillets. Because department stores the world over have taken the luxury route, ordinary shoppers like myself feel pushed out. The link to this post is below.


For years I’ve been admiring this state-of-the-art Jura espresso machine (Swiss.) Too expensive for my budget, I’m afraid. I love these colorful Marimekko cups and mugs (Finnish.)


Here’s the small whisk that I found, the one on the left.


Cotton and linen tablecloths and dishcloths from Italy below. Le Bon Marché is essentially an expensive emporium filled with beautiful things. You don’t have to buy. You can just walk around and look Pour le plaisir des yeux, as the French say (for the pleasure of the eyes).


Down to the Food Hall, called La Grande Epicerie, where an abundance of treats and delicacies are on display. I must admit that after writing about the Syrian refugees the other day, I felt slightly ashamed. We have so much here. An embarrassment of riches.


This fruit has three different names. Back home in Canada, I called them tangerines. Here they’re called clementines. And in the U.K., they call them satsumas. Another name is mandarin. Whatever you call them, winter wouldn’t be winter without them. Or without lychees, also a favorite wintertime fruit here, rich in antioxidant vitamin C and other essential nutrients.


Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without marzipan. Since childhood, when I found marzipan pigs in my stocking, I’ve adored almond paste.


Here’s the post on department stores that I wrote last year entitled Department stores in Paris, Chinese shoppers, and searching for a frying pan.

department stores in Paris, Chinese shoppers, and searching for a frying pan

YSL Touche Éclat


Here’s a marvellous discovery I made while wandering the aisles and perfume counters of Au Printemps department store on the boulevard Haussmann in central Paris. Accosted by a ravishing sales rep promoting Yves Saint Laurent products, I was asked if I’d like to try the new Touche Éclat – they were offering a 20% discount.  I said “sure.” Or rather, “bien sûr !”

I wasn’t really in the market for foundation because I was quite happy with my Diorskin Nude.  However, after the sales rep had finished with my face, I walked away with a new bottle of Touche Éclat creamy foundation at 44 euros ($59CAD/$58US/£37GPB) minus the discount and I haven’t touched the Diorskin since. It appears that a lot of women worldwide – and some men, too – are raving about this product. Yes, it’s more expensive than other foundations, but I’d say it’s worth the investment.  

So what makes this French product stand out from the crowd?  Firstly, it goes without saying that Yves Saint Laurent is a valued and luxurious cosmetic brand. Secondly, as you apply the foundation to your skin you notice it has a lovely delicate scent which is a pleasant thing to acknowledge as you stand bleary-eyed in front of the bathroom mirror early in the morning. Thirdly, it blends easily into the skin with an almost-moisturizing texture because it’s gel and not water-based like other foundations. Fourthly, it has a super-lightweight consistency (what YSL calls “weightless”) which is great for summer and it has a built-in sunscreen of SPF 20.

Oh, and did I mention it comes in 22 different shades segmented into three complexion groups of pinks, yellows and beiges?

This is an illuminating foundation which means it’s light reflective, hence the name éclat which means Radiant. Bright. Luminosity.

What’s really special about this product, as if the above features aren’t enough, is that it’s a long-awaited follow-up to – and has the same properties of – the iconic Touche éclat stick which came out in the 1980s and caused a sensation among makeup artists and models.  A lot of people, however, don’t know how to properly use this stick.  I’ve had several over the decades and was initially baffled by it.  The stick is called a complexion highlighter and claims to illuminate your skin and make dark circles, lines and signs of fatigue disappear with a few strategic strokes.  It is also light reflective.  All this interested me because I’ve had dark circles under my eyes since I was 6; as a result, I think I’ve tried every concealer and highlighter on the market.

Here’s a video of a French makeup artist (looking quite pleased with himself) using the two above products on a model who looks like she’s walked straight out of The Stepford Wives. Only a Frenchman would say “long strokes that caress the skin”, and I’m guessing that the YSL brush he’s using costs more than the foundation itself (why are those brushes so expensive?)  

But the video serves as a tutorial on how to correctly apply skin foundation, as well as that Touche Eclat stick.  I found it informative and maybe you will too.  Applying foundation to your face with a quality brush seems like a good idea.  One last thing – at the beginning of the video he explains how to select the right shade for your skin.  You shouldn’t be doing this (because we always get it wrong.)  YSL sales reps are trained to select the right shade for you.