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Gwendoline Hamon’s energetic spirit
With a typical actress’ presence that seems to come alive with an audience, lustrous-haired and elegant Gwendoline Hamon welcomes Lancôme into her Parisian home to share memories of an African childhood, stories of her great dramaturge grandfather Jean Anouil and a host of photos of her ever-faithful family.
Profession: Actress and director
Neighborhood: 1st Arrondissement
As a Parisienne born and bred, what Parisian habits do you have?
The habit of walking everywhere. I could walk all day and night without getting bored or tired. I get around most of the time by walking and because I’m lucky enough to live in the center of Paris I’m close to a lot of different areas.
Where makes you happy in Paris?
My grandparents had an apartment on Place Fürstenberg which my mother lived in for a long time. I spent a huge part of my adolescence there. Some people think of it as one of the most beautiful parts of Paris because of the way it breathes romanticism and poetry, but for me it just speaks to some very happy days gone by. I’ve lived in other areas of Paris, each with their very own charm, but some parts of Saint-Germain-des-Près near Rue de L’Odéon or the crossroads of Rue Mazarine and Rue Dauphine or even along Rue Saint-Benoit just immediately make me feel happy.
If Paris were a play what would it be?
It would be ART by Yasmina Réza for its very Parisian way of turning anything and everything into a debate, even something seemingly insignificant. That, or Quadrille by Sacha Guitry, a funny vaudevillian take on human behavior.
If you could play the typical Parisienne in a movie or play what type of character would you give her?
I’d give her a slightly elegant, yet vintage appeal and a way of holding herself that’s unique but not pretentious. Plus, a cinched waist and a likeability that men love, a rare freedom that women don’t often allow themselves.
Do you have any favorite spots in the city to seek inspiration?
I love old neighborhoods like the Marais, Montmartre, Saint-Germain or around the Palais Royal because they all tell a story which moves and inspires me.
What makes you happy?
Watching my son grow up and getting to know him better. Enjoying family time with the man I love or with dear friends. And, then also my travels to places that have the ability to transport me in both meanings of the word. I tend to be a little anxious, but on the rare occasion that I feel that all is ok with the world I enjoy a real sense of complete wellbeing and feel very happy.
Do you have any particular memories of feeling completely happy?
My 40th birthday when I spent three days with all my friends and family on a magical little island near Toulon. It was a surprise.
Do you have a go-to feel-good motto?
“Happiness doesn’t come to those who sit waiting.” Baden Powell
Name three energy-boosting songs.
Ain’t no mountain high enough by Marvin Gaye, Stand on the world by Joubert Singers and Cosmic Girl by Jamiroquai. I also love Bécaud, Regianni, Barbara, Julien Clerc, Marc Lavoine, Zazie, Keren Ann and a lot of other French artists.
Name a favorite feel-good movie.
The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews.
What do you eat for breakfast to get yourself up and going?
An Asian breakfast with a spicy, fragrant broth and a little rice and soy sauce. That said, I have nothing against a good apple juice with a little lemon and ginger. Or, for a little something extra, a gluten-free bagel with Nutella!
Do you do any sports year-round to stay in shape?
Without hesitation, floor barre to stretch, lengthen muscles, awaken the body and rejuvenate the entire spirit. The best teacher is Michel at the Café de la Gare in the Centre du Marais dance centre. In much the same theme, Pilates can be marvelous too.
Centre de Danse du Marais, 41 Rue du Temple, 75004 Paris. Tel. : + 33 1 42 77 58 19.
How would you describe the typical Parisienne?
She knows herself and knows what suits her. She’s natural and rarely piles on makeup. However, she has a real elegance no matter where life takes her. I suppose you could say she’s a little cat-like, intelligent and playful. She’s a free woman, not afraid to get wind in her hair, but who knows how to maintain a little mystery all the while being available and likeable. She knows how to laugh or smile when a man catches her eye and can apply mascara all the while driving and singing at the top of her lungs with her headphones in. You can spot her in any airport, just like you can with Italian women, because Parisian women have style.
In what way would you say your beauty routine is very Parisian?
From the glass of hot water I drink when I wake up, to the juice place on the ground floor of my apartment, to my son’s school, not to mention the way I walk to my dance classes at the end of a busy day, I’m running around the entire time.
What do you say to yourself when you look in the mirror?
That I’m changing and that’s not a bad thing, because I think I look more and more like my incredible Grandmother.
Which types of female roles interest you the most?
The ones that John Cassavetes gave his wife Gena Rowlands, roles of suffering women that are very hard to play but energize me in the way that a subtlety of the emotions can be very challenging to play. I love that.
How would you define female beauty?
"You can have a perfect face, but still nothing can emanate from it. Then you get people with real features, hair, a voice, a look, a personality and devastating charm… that’s what makes some women truly fascinating beauties."
You’ve just written a book about your mother in which you talk about all the women who made you the woman you are and about the women you grew up with (your great-grandmother and sister). What did they teach you about beauty?
My grandmother really was elegance personified, she was the perfect example of “never touching your nose, eyebrows or teeth otherwise you’ll lose your mystery and uniqueness.” For me she was a mix between Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn. My great-grandmother came from a very humble background, but was nonetheless naturally distinguished and looked like Katharine Hepburn – very beautiful and without artifice. I remember her putting on moisturizer every morning so she wouldn’t get rough, crocodile skin. As for my mother, she was a real bohemian who took risks and ignored rules, she could pull off a long electric blue leather skirt. My sister and I were often embarrassed by her extravagant clothes, but she carried them off so well and with such humor that I think she taught us a good lesson about freedom.
Your grandmother often told you that you had a first-class figure and that you would have to find a way to make your mark in the industry. What beauty lessons did you draw from that?
That I had to find my own style, a mix of classic style with current fashion, vintage and rock ‘n’ roll edge. And, to find a way to showcase my spontaneous, clownish side that really doesn’t match my very classic and elegant appearance. I suppose, to be ready to take on any situation and not just be ordinary.
Name a classic Parisian beauty trick that’s perfect in it own right.
A little ice water on the face wakes up the complexion in a flash.
Do you have any particular beauty secrets to share?
Sleep and pinch your face a little to get circulation going. If you do it often enough you end up with Snow White-like rosy cheeks!
Have you made any life-changing beauty discoveries?
Gluten-free eating. Even though I made fun of all the trend-chasers at first, I’ve found you’ll never suffer from digestive issues ever again and you can bid farewell to a bloated stomach after a big bowl of pasta.
Gwendoline’s Paris Address Book
Where do you go:
To relax and get a massage?
Ban Thaï SPA, there’s nothing better than an Asian massage.
Ban Thaï SPA Massage Paris, 20 Rue Dauphine, 75006 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 43 54 01 01 or 5 Rue Mandar, 75002 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 40 28 00 80.
For tea or coffee?
I love going to the bars of large hotels, they make me feel like I’m traveling. Also, the terrace at the Costes is always lovely. Any good café table in Paris is charming.
Hôtel Costes, 239-241 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris. Tel. : + 33 1 42 44 50 00.
For lunch with friends?
The very chic and beautifully designed Le Saut du Loup restaurant close to the Louvre which has a lovely terrace that looks out onto the Tuileries gardens. Or La Belle Epoque on Rue des Petits Champs, if you want to be on-trend. The best Japanese? Yamamoto on Rue Chabanais. And for something a little relaxed I go for a ceviche bar. The best one is in Montorgueil and is called La Cevicheria.
Le Saut du Loup, 107 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 42 25 49 55.
La Belle Epoque, 36 Rue des Petits Champs, 75002 Paris.Yamamoto, 6 Rue Chabanais, 75002 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 49 27 96 26.
La Cevicheria, 14 Rue Bachaumont, 75002 Paris. Tel: + 33 9 80 88 58 05.
For inspiring books?
Delamain, opposite the Comédie Française, I feel like I’m touching history whenever I go there and that I’ll always find something great.
Librairie Delamain, 155 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 42 61 48 78.
For homewares or jewelry?
Flea markets, or one of my childhood friend Sarah Lavoine’s stores. Also, a little vintage store in Montmartre, called L’Objet qui Parle where it’s always easy to find a gem. Or, even Drouot auction house. I love to go there on the off chance and am never fail to enjoy a little surprise. Also, a piece of jewelry from my friend Marie Poniatowski’s label, Stone.
L’Objet Qui Parle, 86 Rue des Martyrs, 75018 Paris.Drouot, 9 Rue Drouot, 75009 Paris. Tel: + 33 1 48 00 20 20.
STONE, 60 Rue des Saints-Pères, 75007 Paris. Tel. : +33 1 42 22 24 24. Photos: Saskia Lawaks