Sunday, 22 July 2012

My Sephora experience in Aix-en-Provence

One of the things we did to sweeten the girls during our time away in Europe, was the promise of French perfume for their birthdays.  I decided to look for perfume in a French chain store called Sephora which sells cosmetics and skincare in addition to the most delicious French perfumes you've ever heard of and more.  For those who live in Australia, think of about when you walk into the fragrance/skincare/cosmetics department in either David Jones or Myer and try to imagine the smell being 100 times better.  This was just a small part of my Sephora experience.

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It's glitzy and glamorous, with assistants waiting to help you and kindly give you a basket in which to place your intended purchases.  Not a bad idea really as you are inclined to buy more if you have somewhere to put them as you stroll about.

I was  buying perfume for myself as well so the first thing in my hand was a bottle of Chanel No. 5, my signature perfume.  I was first introduced to Chanel No. 5 when I was 18, my parents bought me a bottle while visiting Europe.  They and they alone are responsible for getting me hooked on this fragrance and I'm very grateful.  (Hubby found out it was my favourite perfume when we were first going out and bought me a bottle.  I knew by then he was a keeper.)

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Next  on my list was Chanel Mademoiselle, Genevieve's perfume of choice.  She had taken herself of to do some smell tests before we went away.

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Then it was choosing a perfume for Charlotte who had not a clue what she wanted.  There after followed one of the most interesting experiences I had in France and a first hand experience of the language barrier between an English speaking and a French speaking woman.

I had a couple of fragrances in mind for Charlotte, I'd done smell tests in Sephora and tried to match a perfume to her personality.  It was at this point the most delightful mature French lady came to my assistance with a basket.  I asked in my very poor French did she speak English which of course she did not so I proceeded to use the best sign language to explain what I wanted.  I showed her a photo of the girls, pointed to Genevieve and then pointed to the bottle of Chanel Mademoiselle.  I pointed to me then to the bottle of Chanel No. 5. and lastly pointed to Charlotte in the photo and shrugged my shoulders, palms facing up.  The French understood this gesture I was sure, I'd seen them do it often enough.

So then the real fun began.  My lovely French assistant had me sniffing all the perfumes she though would suit Charlotte and my poor nose in the end could hardly decipher one perfume from the next.  Everything she had me smell was heavy, sexy, sensual and earthy and was accompanied with hand gestures and body movements to suggest the same.  Earthy and heavy was not what I had in mind for Charlotte, but something more flirty, light and airy with a touch of floral perhaps.  Can you imagine two ladies using hand gestures, one lady doing sensual, the other light and airy.  My shopping experience was nothing at all like the photo below which suggests sensible, mature, elegant women going about the business of buying perfume.  By this stage we were both in fits of laughter with the assistant pretending to wipe her brow with exhaustion.  She was determined to help me at all costs, language barrier or not.

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 After about 10 minutes, I finally asked hubby to venture inside to translate for me in his more than passable French.  The perfume I thought would suit Charlotte was Miss Dior.

 My French lady was having none of this.   It was too light, it would fade away into nothing, it was too inconsequential for my daughter.  She was absolutely delightful in her descriptions, accompanied with yet more hand gestures and body movements.  Hubby was able to tell her that I wanted a perfume to suit my daughter's personality and finally she understood.  We finally decided to purchase the parfum rather then the eu de toilette I had picked up and she was all smiles.  Everything was good.  She even put a few little product and perfume samples in my basket.  I was delighted.  We went off to the register to pay and the young man made a show of wrapping each bottle of perfume beautifully in paper and ribbon, giving me more samples and the most delightful Sephora bag (a very usable tote like bag) in which to place them.  What an experience.  Would I do it again tomorrow?  YES, a thousand time yes. The sheer joy that was derived from such an experience on so many levels is not one I will forget for a long time.

As always, thank you for taking an interest and visiting.

Have a wonderful week,

Anne  xx


  1. Phew, sounds exhausting! Glad you found something suitable in the end. Lucky you getting lots of free samples!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  2. Oh Anne, what an unforgettable experience. I can just imagine the gesturing that went on, what a hoot.
    It sounds like an amazing place.
    I hope Charlotte likes Miss Dior. You certainly have good taste when it comes to perfume.....

    Claire x

  3. Oh lucky you, sounds amazing, I love perfume.
    My favourite is Coco Chanel & just like you, hubby knows!!!!!! Great eh!!!
    I bet your daughter loved the prefume you got for her :)
    Lol Karen x

  4. What a wonderful experience and very French. I bet you all smell divine !

  5. Sounds like a great shopping experience and one you won't forget!

    I've never got into perfume, never owned any and never wear it!

  6. Ha ha, I can just imagine the scene!

  7. what a lovely gift for your daughters, and such fun!

  8. Oh, what fun Anne. A priceless memory. Now, you should go off to French lessons so that next time you will be better able to communicate because it is such fun, don't you think? I really enjoyed giving it a go with my schoolgirl French. Asking questions was not so hard ... but understanding the answers was a whole new world !!!


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