Friday, 1 August 2008

In France...a Lush experience...

First and foremost I would like to thank everyone who reads this blog. I checked the stats today and realised that at least 50 people have read/ or are reading Victual Pleasure... keep it up!

Today was a day full of adventure and discovery. I say that I love Paris, but really what I mean is that I love the parts I hang out in. I tend to stay in the same area, occasionally venturing out to the 16th arrondissement, but rarely to places that are unfamiliar. Perhaps it’s my fear of not being able to communicate, perhaps it’s merely the fact that I love where I live and can find almost everything I could ever need within a small radius. Sometimes however, I walk (or drive in a taxi on the way to somewhere) through different parts of Paris that are completely unfamiliar and realise just how much I am missing out. The Marais is trendy and has great shopping, but apparently it’s passé. The new hot area is Oberkampf (which as of now I have yet to visit!)

But where am I going with this?

Well, I would probably not have headed over to the 6th arrondissement on a whim, that much I can say. Funny how your favourite beauty product can expand your horizons! I knew from my internet research that Paris had a Lush (for those of you who don't know, a British store that sells amazing hand-made natural cosmetics, you can find them througout Europe and the U.S., amongst other places) but I had no idea where it was. Upon further research this afternoon, I realised it was in the 6th arrondissement and while not far from my flat geographically, I also realised it would take at least 3 metro changes. I normally shun anything that requires this many transfers, but the idea of travel-size shampoos that last maybe three washes (with my hair anyway) was enough to inspire the trip.
The metro was easy enough to figure out, I'd ridden all of the different lines at one point (1,4,10) and the trip itself didn't really take that long. Upon arriving (station Mabillion, line 10) I looked around, recognising Vagenende (142 boulevard Saint-Germain,- an amazing bistro I've eaten at countless times) and one or two bars (like La Rhumerie at 166 Boulevard Saint-Germain) that we've taken guests to before dinner for an apero. Unfamiliar with the rest of the Quartier (French for ‘neighbourhood’) I decided to explore a bit and headed towards 30 Rue de Buci (home of Lush!)

I was surprised to find a chic, up-scale area, equally as picturesque as the Marais and not nearly as crowded. I expected hordes of tourists (it's so close to both St. Michel and the Sorbonne), but the primary language being spoken was actually French. Aside from a lack of tourists, there were also quaint little boutiques, amazing looking cafés, a great flower shop, and a green grocer that had a larger than normal collection of all sorts of amazing fruits and vegetables. Of course there was also Lush.

Lush in France is...different. The names are actually translated into French, although some like Seanick are still Seanick (leading me to ponder just how cute a French person would sound attempting to pronounce it!) I ended up with some flying fox shower gel and what would normally be called American Cream. Yes, you heard right, normally.
You see, somehow, I strangely believed that since the photos of the products on the French website had the English text on them (despite the fact that the products had French names) that the bottles in the shop would also have the English text. Wrong. This in itself wasn’t the problem however. I can deal with French names that are transliterated from English. The only reason American Cream took me so long to find on the website was because it isn't (as would be logical) called “Crème Américaine”, it's called “(vive la) Révolution!” It makes you wonder just why they couldn't call it “Créme Americane”. Are they being anti- American? Is it a joke? Does it sell better with the different name?

Unsatisfied with mere hypothesizing, I looked up what American Cream is called in German Lush Stores...surprise surprise...”American Cream”. Spain? “Crema Americana”. Russia? Well they don't sell American Cream, but everywhere else the name is either translated or kept as "American Cream”. Not only do they keep this name, they also keep the description (pulled from "...American Cream was inspired by a vision of 1950's US milk bar, bright red-leather-and-chrome, neon-lit cafes where teenagers went to meet each other and drink frothy, fruity, thick, creamy milkshakes. Our fruity, creamy conditioner is what the girls would have used to make their hair soft and strokeable before going out on a date, all dressed up in their bobby socks and circular skirts." Just to give you an idea of the contrast, here is what the French website says: (taken from
"Après-shampooing force deux façon milk-shake aux fruits. Nous adorons tellement l’odeur de (Vive la) Révolution !" Strange, isn’t it ? Well at least they included the words milk-shake ! I love the French. When you think about it, they are probably the only ones who get away with such a huge name change. Makes you wish you were French…doesn’t it ?

To conclude my Lush adventure (no pun intended) I wandered around a bit more, taking some photos, and enjoying the reprieve from the 31 degree weather that has characterised Paris recently. The sales are nearly over (they end tomorrow) and most places already have their fall merchandise out (if they are even open, as many shops are now closed for the congé annuel or annual 3-4 week summer break). Paris in August can seem a bit depressing with everything closed. Luckily, my U.S. adventure begins in just a few days, bringing me back to Paris just in time for the re-opening of the shops. In the meantime, if you happen to be in Paris, check out the 6th, you’ll be pleasantly surprised, I guarantee it. Even if you aren’t, at least you’ve got Lush !

Until next time…Au revoir !

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