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Longtime acquaintances, lifelong friends and co-creators of the gifting site bemygift.fr, a shopping destination that “teems with ideas for gifting yourself and others,” Alexandra Mselati and Julia Muûls’ welcome Paris Inspires into Julia’s apartment for a visit made lively by Julia’s twin daughters and a chance to lift the lid on the Paris they love.
Profession: Founders of www.bemygift.fr.
Neighborhood: Saint Germain des Près, Paris’ 7th arrondissement.
If Paris were a gift what would it be?
Julia Muûls: A luxurious, insider city guide. I often give these little Paris guides packed full of great addresses to my friends -- even the trendiest of Parisians -- and I’ve only ever had great feedback.
Alexandra Mselati: A white tuberose candle, mainly because the scent reminds me of my childhood and our childhood homes. Plus, I admit that I love giving friends a gift I love so much.
Name three places that evoke the Paris you love
Julia: 1/ Place des Vosges, it’s so romantic. 2/Saint Germain des Près with its hidden courtyards -- there are some incredible ones. 3/ The natural charm of Place de Furstenberg, especially when the trees are in bloom.
Alexandra: 1/ The Palais Royal gardens, which are endlessly relaxing. 2/ Le Pré Catalan restaurant, which I consider to be a personal escape, especially during the week. 3/ Le Bon Marché: I love their beauty, fashion, design and interiors departments, I could just buy everything in there.
Name a favorite Parisian sweet treat.
Julia: A warm croissant. It’ll never lose its crown as my Parisian favorite, even if I’ll admit to having a penchant for Ispahan’s rose and fresh lychee macaroons.
Alexandra: Coconut macaroons are the best. But, in second place, without doubt are Paris-Brest cakes with their praline chocolate centers, and chocolate brioches….
Do you have any strong or particularly moving memories of Paris?
Julia: Of La Place des Vosges again, because it’s where my husband asked me to marry him a few years ago.
Alexandra: The apartment where I spent a good part of my childhood on the Champ de Mars. Whenever I go past in the car my heart misses a beat.
How would you describe the typical Parisienne?
Julia: For me she’s a beautiful blend of fashion types: sporty chic, glam rock, gypset -- and all with a twist. Only a Parisian can pair sneakers with a faux-fur coat.
Alexandra: As a woman who’s part bohemian and part sexy working girl, but looks just as chic wearing flats as heels.
Describe your beauty routine
Julia: I’m a fan of the less-is-more look. Every morning I cleanse my skin with a good micellar water-based makeup remover to make sure I get rid of any nightime build-up. Then, I follow up with a splash of thermal spring water and a good dose of moisturizing cream.
Alexandra: I have my morning routine figured out, right down to the last millisecond. On the product side, I go for plenty of micellar water so I can gently remove makeup, thenI follow that up with a day cream. As for makeup, I use a good bronzing powder and a transparent lip gloss. Otherwise, in the evening I have a little more fun, especially with the eyes which I love to do really smoky.
What are your beauty no-nos?
Julia: Going to bed without taking my makeup off! That’s unthinkable for me…
Alexandra: Ooh la la, I have plenty, I can’t just pick one! Bleeding lipstick, chipped nail polish, a tan that looks too orange?
What thought gets you out of bed on difficult mornings?
Julia: The thought of getting to work with my coworker Alexandra so we can brainstorm any ideas we’ve had overnight. Especially as we’ve probably already sent them by text!
Alexandra: Thanks to my daughter Bianca’s kisses and cuddles, mornings really aren’t difficult any more!
What little things make you smile?
Julia: Finding my twins’ bottles in my bed after their morning cuddles and cartoons. That’s a good start to the day.
Alexandra: Being aware of how lucky I am to be doing what I really love, at my own pace with a coworker I love. It’s a huge luxury.
Have you made any life-changing beauty discoveries?
Julia: Konjac! It’s my slimming ally. Although it doesn’t have many calories, it really makes you feel as if you’ve eaten a hearty bowl of pasta. It’s a guaranteed appetite suppressant too. Try it with a good homemade tomato sauce. It’s perfect for those times you’re watching your weight.
Alexandra: Exfoliation, for the way it tones and exfoliates. We’re wrong to think that exfoliation just cleanses skin. By scrubbing away dead skin cells, exfoliation also encourages skin to replenish itself with a hydrating serum which tones and boosts glow, allowing skin to do its job better.
Name three favorite Paris hotspots:
Julia: As a lover of good coffee, Café Coutume is like an Ali Bhaba’s cave for me. Ethiopian and Costa Rican (beans) are all roasted on site. It’s a real treat for the eyes. Otherwise, to see and be seen, I head to colette, my favorite concept store. For family time, I go to the green alley ways of the Parc du Luxembourg. With pony rides for some and tennis courts for others, there’s something to make everyone happy.
Alexandra: For a sweet treat, head to Carette, the terrace is legendary and the chocolat liégeois dessert there is marvellous. For a great Italian lunch after a morning of shopping, I highly recommend the delicious Primo Piano on the third floor of Bon Marché. Finally, I love to take my daughter to Fondation Louis Vuitton followed by a stroll in the Jardin d’Acclimatation.
© Saskia Lawaks