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With a radiant face, bright spirit and impressive figure, Hélène Duval teaches some of the most highly rated yoga classes in the city -- all from her living room overlooking Paris’ Galliera museum gardens. When she’s not teaching or designing for YUJ, her own clothing line, you’ll find her with her three children or traveling with her husband. We meet with her to chat exclusively about the city she loves.
Profession: Yoga teacher and founder of yogawear brand YUJ www.yuj.fr
Neighborhood: Trocadero, Paris’ 16th arrondissement.
If Paris were a yoga position, which would it be?
The tree: slender, structured and stretched out, just like our beautiful Eiffel Tower!
Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris.
Name three places that sum up the Paris you love
I have three specifically close to my heart. 1) The Seine riverbanks for walks, or for taking my sons biking. 2) The Palais de Tokyo, for its exhibitions that are unlike anything else you’ll see in Paris’ other classic museums and which are ideal for piquing children’s and adults’ interest alike. 3) Place Dauphine, because you can play petanque there during the summer, something I love.
Le Palais de Tokyo, 13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75016 Paris.
Place Dauphine, 75001 Paris.
Name a typically Parisian treat
My typically Parisian treat? Coffee with a buttered baguette on a terrace… now that’s happiness.
Do you have any particularly special memories of Paris?
Without any doubt, meeting the man in my life. I remember spending many hours chatting in parks and little squares in the Marais, which in my mind is the ultimate in romance.
Le Marais, 75004 Paris.
How would you describe the typical Parisienne?
She’s my muse and the woman that inspires me. She’s elegant with a unique, yet completely identifiable style that sets her apart from all other city dwellers across the world. She’s natural, yet runs around all day in heels. She never goes for anything blingy or vulgar, but she boasts a kind of fatal attraction-type power with charm and charisma like no other.
Describe your beauty routine
I like a chic yet natural style and always need to feel like my skin can breathe. On a daily basis, that translates to a intense cleansing routine, morning and evening, followed by a super-hydrating cream. As far as makeup goes, thanks to the oxygenating power of yoga, I don’t need foundation to boost glow. Otherwise, I go for mascara and a little blush. Basically, my lightweight makeup routine perfectly fits my tight schedule.
Do you have any beauty no-nos?
As you’ve probably guessed I’m not a fan of foundation. I can’t get myself to wear it. I prefer seeing my skin’s imperfections than hiding them all under a layer of color.
What gets you out of bed on difficult mornings?
Just thinking about the students about to arrive for class and who need my positive energy. That gets me out of bed with a smile, I love teaching.
How do you keep a positive attitude?
By living each day as if it were the happiest of my life. To do that I try to make every moment the very best it can be.
Have you made any life-changing beauty or wellbeing discoveries?
Not just one but several. 1) Yoga, obviously. Practicing yoga has changed my life and on the physical side my body has become healthier and slimmer. On the mental side, when I do even just five minutes, I feel an immediate wave of total wellbeing come over me. 2) My physiotherapist Serge Fridman, who is a magician! He’s helped me regain skin elasticity after each baby and in record time! 3) Drinking birch sap every morning on an empty stomach as the season changes. It’s great for cleansing the intestines while helping you feel lighter, fresher and glowier.
Name three favorite Paris hotspots
For lunch with friends I love the Water Bar at colette. The dishes are tasty and hearty. For a romantic dinner with my love, I like going to Yen, a delicious Japanese restaurant where everything is wonderfully beautiful and delicate. I love sitting upstairs to get the feeling that we’ve escaped from the rest of the world. As for my favorite kid-friendly destination for my three kids aged 7, 5 and 18 months, I love Tokyo Eat at the Palais de Tokyo.
Colette, 213 Rue Saint-Honoré 75001 Paris.
Yen, 22 Rue Saint-Benoit, 75006 Paris.
Tokyo Eat, Palais de Tokyo, 13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris.
© Saskia Lawaks