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In other lands

Faraway Lands: Melanie Masarin, Glossier’s Head of Retail and Offline Experiences, on The Best of Paris

Melanie Masarin is one to know. As Head of Retail and Offline Experiences for Glossier, Melanie spends at least half of her job on the road, visiting the brand’s LA store, scouting new cities and potential store sites, and traveling to design fairs abroad to get inspiration and meet with designers. While her current home base is New York City, Melanie grew up in Lyon, France. Naturally, this meant regular trips to Paris, and still does. We sat down with the globe-trotting, beauty connoisseur to get the scoop on some of her favorite things: Paris (the best of everything there), her job, and of course, her go-to Glossier products.

Tell us about a little bit about your job.

Glossier is a digitally native brand, and mostly sells on the internet. Since we opened our showroom a little over a year ago, we’ve realized our customers want more engagement with the company in real life. I oversee the team that designs these experiences, whether they are permanent or temporary. This involves choosing the city and space, to nailing down a concept, all the way to training the team that will ultimately interact with customers.

If you could only travel with two Glossier products, which would they be?

Tough question! I always have a Milky Jelly Mini (our travel size face wash and a gen G (our lipstick) somewhere in my purse. The lipstick is a sheer matte better-than-your-lip color. I like a natural face, so I’ll usually wear a touch of that, boy brow on my eyebrows, and our Lash Slick mascara during the day to look awake. I actually always travel with a bunch of Glossier makeup, because wherever I go I meet people who have heard of us and are really excited to try it—so I end up giving it all away.

So Paris… what’s your favorite part of being there?

Every street corner is magnificent, something I took for granted until I moved to NYC. And that beautiful Parisian architecture is the backdrop of so many memories, since so much time is spent outside, or sitting in cafes.

Claus

Describe your version of a perfect day in Paris.

It definitely starts with breakfast at Claus. I’ll then usually go to all the galleries in St. Germain and hunt for inexpensive prints, or see unaffordable vintage furniture while my head is clear and my stomach is full. I almost always will see an exhibition, or 5, and lose myself in the museum shop. Then I’ll spend a few hours shopping. Ironically enough, given my role at Glossier, I find shopping in the US very overwhelming, and I tend to save all my shopping stamina for the perfect afternoon in Paris. The perfect day almost always involves a trip to La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marche if I’m in Saint Germain, or the food shops of the rue Montorgueil if I’m on the right bank. I’ll stock up my sister’s kitchen and we’ll have people over for a copious aperitif before heading out to a late dinner / drinks somewhere fun.

Name 2-3 great restaurants there. What’s your go-to order?

There are so many good ones! I’d say if you want a fancy dinner, go to Septime or Frenchie, both really delicious. For a very French streetside bistrot experience, have dinner chez Julien. If you happen to walk by the Marais, get a ratatouille at Miznon. A tiny hole in the wall Italian: go to Pastavino. Fancy sushi with a french twist, go to Bar des Champs by Cyril Lignac, and don’t forget the hazelnut mochi. For a special date, book ahead and go to Pertinence.

Which restaurant is most old-world beautiful that you’d recommend?

Too many, I can’t choose just one. But for a perfect old-world evening, far ahead of any restaurant, I’ll choose to go to the Paris Opera Ballet at the Opera Garnier. I feel like a little girl every time I go and I have never been disappointed.

Masarin strolling the Marais

Any great places for cocktails or wine?

Before sundown, I love an aperitif at l’Avant Comptoir in Saint Germain. They make their own pâté en croute which is truly memorable and you can have a great glass of red with incredible food while standing at the counter on the street. La Buvette is this really tiny natural wine bar in the 11th, and my personal favorite. Because of their local liquor license you HAVE to order a nibble with your wine, not that I wouldn’t always order a nibble anywhere. The plates are all really simple and tasty, but they also don’t steal the show. Get the white beans to help you soak up all the wine, thank me later. For a slightly swankier cocktail I always like the Bar Hemingway in the Ritz, or a cocktail at the newly redone Hotel de Crillon.

Any great places to go dancing these days?

I went to a place called Le Bourbon this past winter that I really liked! Paris also has fun festivals in the summer that make for a good adventure.

L’Hotel

Most beautiful hotel in Paris?

I usually stay home in Paris, unless I’m working, but I think The Ritz is the most classic and magical. On a work trip, I’ll usually stay at Les Bains, Hotel des Arts et Metiers, or Hotel des Grands Boulevards. I’ve always wanted to stay at l’Hotel, the 20-bedroom hotel where Oscar Wilde lived in Saint Germain.

What’s the best spa in town?

The Biologique Recherche flagship on the Champs Elysees if you want a facial that will spoil you forever. For spa treatments, I like the Clarins Spa in the Royal Monceau which is modern but so relaxing. My personal favorite is the women-only Moroccan Hammam Pacha, with its Moroccan tiles and traditional arches.

I find Paris difficult for manicures. Do you have a go-to spot?

Paris is finally starting to catch up with NY for on-the-go beauty. There’s a popular website called treatwell.fr that lets you book manicures and a plethora of other treatments online. I still get my nails done in NY before I leave for Europe, but Mozoe near the Place Vendome saved me from chipping accidents a few times, with a decent manicure that didn’t take the whole afternoon.

What are the best stores unique to Paris and what are they like?

I miss Colette already! Generally, Paris has really nice concept stores—Centre Commercial for fashion from French and Danish designers, Merci to bring back homeware presents. There’s also a French chain of stores called Nature & Decouvertes that sells a range of world discovery and outdoor equipment items. Their wellness section will make you faint, it’s a more professional version of all the new Tibetan stores, that also sells better-designed versions of all the wellness items you can only Amazon in the U.S. You can find really unique things from solar-powered rainbow prisms to rare yoga tools. It makes for really unique, fun, gimmicky, gifts for your health-focused friends and their children.

L’Atelier 55

Any beautiful antique stores you’d recommend?

I like the experience of going to the Puces and antique fairs more than stores, which feel quite stuffy and when you can’t touch things. Mentally prepare yourself for crowds and dust, and head over to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen or Vanves to find everything from Chanel brooches to antique crystal lighting. If you can’t make the trip, L’Atelier 55 in Saint Germain has a really nicely curated selection of trendy vintage pieces. I’m dying to get the very large Pelletier totem pole in their window right now…

Anywhere you would avoid (like a touristy spot that people recommend that you think is overrated)?

Generally you have to be ok with tourists in Paris to survive it. The restaurant chez l’Ami Louis generally divides people into those who think it’s the most authentic Paris restaurant and those who think it’s an overpriced trap for wealthy Americans. I have to admit the food was good and the plate of Fraises des Bois the chef brought me was irresistible, however I still stand in the later camp and would recommend Bistrot Paul Bert for a much more authentic experience at a quarter of the price.

Palais de Tokyo

Name three favorite cultural institutions.

The Palais de Tokyo for its constantly changing and thought-provoking modern art; the Musee Picasso for a quick cultural stop in the Marais that everybody can enjoy; and Brancusi’s studio, always disorienting, in a surprising location under the Place Beaubourg. It’s so quiet and stuck in time. But if you’re in Paris right now you must see Basquiat’s retrospective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton.

What would you say is the most stylish part of the city these days?

The whole city is pretty stylish, but I’ve recently really enjoyed the dynamism and indie vibes of Pigalle and the 11th.

Any place you’d recommend that only a local would know about?

A little Italian spot in Paris called Pastavino. Walk through the sandwich shop and up the stairs. There are just a few tables. It’s not fancy, it’s just a simple pleasure for a weeknight.

Any songs, albums, or playlists that instantly bring you back to France?

All the classics my dad would put on in the car when driving to the South of France. My siblings and I used to belt out the tunes of Charles Aznavour and Joe Dassin for hours. . I like to hear new french songs when I go back, and my cooking playlist now has a lot of Brigitte in it—I love them!

To you, Paris is…

Home.

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