Lesson 1: Prioritize Skin FTW
Isabelle Jamet Surjon, store director for the Yves Rocher flagship on Champs Elysées in Paris, knows firsthand the essentials coveted by the French. It starts with an easy, but effective, skin care system. “Cleansing and anti-aging are the priorities, women are busy,” she says. A cream for day and another for night, like this one made with over 90% naturally derived ingredients and sans silicone, parabens and mineral oil that softens wrinkles and enhances radiance, are must-haves.
Yves Rocher Sérum Végétal Sleeping Care, $47 at yvesrocher.ca.
Lesson 2: Mother Nature Knows Best
Founded in 1959, in a small countryside town in France, Yves Rocher has grown deep roots in the beauty world in more ways than one. Developing a passion for plants as a young boy inspired Mr. Rocher to look to natural ingredients to create products that would address skin concerns. Today, botanical innovations are the base for timeless favourites as well as the latest offerings from the eponymous line. Exhibit A: The soothing properties of organic cornflower is the key ingredient in this makeup remover, a best-seller in France and Canada.
Yves Rocher Pur Bluet Express Eye Makeup Remover, $6 at yvesrocher.ca.
Lesson 3: Be Red-dy
A look at French icons past and present (think Catherine Deneuve and Marion Cotillard) reveals a common thread. Their timeless je ne sais quoi is grounded in simplicity. Glowing skin? Check. Defined eyes? Complete. Add a bold lip colour, et voila! No Kardashian-style contouring here. “It’s important for La Parisienne to have her makeup,” says Jamet Surjon, “Mascara, yes, but eyebrows are not as much a focus. Foundation, too, but very light and natural, to look like you have nothing on your skin. And lipstick – red, of course.” C’est fini!
Yves Rocher Rouge Vertige Lipstick in Dark Red, $18 at yvesrocher.ca.
Lesson 4: Slow Your Roll
There’s a lot going on in La Gacilly, France. It’s the birthplace of Mr. Rocher, the site of the company’s impressive botanical garden and harvesting facilities, and the location of its four-star destination: La Grée de Landes Eco-Hotel and Spa. ‘Slow living’ is the mantra there, with an emphasis on un-plugging, de-stressing and re-connecting with nature. Upon arriving via a 3-hour train ride from Paris, it’s blissfully easy to get with the program. Soothing the senses on contact, Scandi-like architecture boasts warm wood tones and floor-to-ceiling windows. The design is seamlessly merged with the surrounding landscape of rolling hills and lush gardens. And, from the lobby adorned with an open fireplace to flourishing green spaces and organic cotton bedding, it only gets better when you get inside. (What else would a Best Health editor do in France? Find out in our healthy Paris guide.)
Lesson 5: Put a petal on it
If you’re lucky enough to dine at Les Jardins Sauvage, the restaurant at La Grée de Landes Eco-Hotel and Spa, you’ll be treated to the Brittany version of eating locally. That’s because the menu is comprised of ingredients that are all sourced within a 50-kilometre radius (seafood is an exception). Chef Gilles Le Gallès likes to brighten up his deliciously simple dishes, like a poached egg, with cornflower petals from his on-site garden. It’s an idea that’s 100 per cent worth stealing for your next brunch party.
Lesson 6: Go for green
When plants are your resource, the garden becomes your library. And Yves Rocher has an epic one! Created in 1975, and devoted to conservation, research and innovation, the Botanical Garden at La Gacilly is home to 1000+ species from around the world. Inside the on-site harvesting plant, never have I ever seen boxes so big and so packed with dried organic flowers. The scent = divine. And when it comes to formulations, the goal is to make the most of that good stuff. Translation: products have 90% (or higher) natural ingredients and are free of mineral oil, parabens, silicone and colorants.
Lesson 7: Props make massages better
If you like a hot stone massage, you’ll love a hot seed massage! The signature spa treatment at the La Grée de Landes Eco-Hotel and Spa uses the palm-size Entada seed (a member of the pea family that hails from Africa) and a concoction of jojoba and sesame oil, spiked with cedar, lavender and vanilla, to reach peak relaxation. Buh-bye sore, stressed muscles!
Lesson 8: Don’t miss magic hour!
Besides the chance to soak up those last few drops of Vitamin D, we all look extra gorgeous at dusk. Against a backdrop of long grasses swaying in the breeze, sunset at La Gacilly does not disappoint. It’s OK to pick up your phone to capture the moment, for a second, just commit to shutting it down to create some mental screen grabs, too.
Lesson 9: Say yes to pool time
The experience of bobbing in an infinity pool while gazing at breathtaking views of the French countryside is hard to put into words. Let’s just say the healing power of water is taken to the next level. It’s really, really nice. Post-dip, wrapping yourself in a plush robe to lounge on the adjoining outdoor deck – and sip herbal tea – is not terrible either.
Lesson 10: Manage with moderation
From a signature fragrance to a three-course lunch, French woman enjoy indulging – they just don’t over-indulge. Dessert served at Les Jardins Sauvage is the perfect example: Five different bite-size tastes manage to satisfy a sweet craving without leaving you full of regrets.