Fri 25
Jul 2014

Your key to the city's hidden doors

Health & Beauty

Private Pilates Classes in Paris with Annie Venier

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Photos by Nicolas Calcott for Paris By Appointment Only™

If you asked Parisians ten years ago what Pilates (pronounced “Pilottes”) was, they would have answered you with their habitual I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about-you-may-as-well-come-from-Mars shoulder shrug and dismissive lip fart.

But oh how the times have changed. Now, almost every sports club and well-being center is offering some kind of Pilates class, just like every grocery store these days has some kakamayme organic product line that they’re pushing. The point is that finding a fabulous, authentic, personalized Pilates studio in Paris can be as costly as it is exhausting. But now you can save your Euros and your breath because I have the Pilates pro for you!

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Long, lean, strong and supple, American-raised, Paris-based Annie Venier is a walking and talking advertisement for Pilates.  As well she should be, she’s been doing it now for close to fifteen years. Venier fell into the discipline quite literally by accident. After a running injury knocked her off her feet, she found herself in search of a deep, therapeutic strength-building alternative. She got hooked immediately, and before long quit her job to pursue a new career as a Pilates professional.

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Treat Your Feet to Mr. Ho for the Best Paris Pedicure

Fuzzhead-illustration-fabrice-fortinIllustration by Fabrice Fortin for Paris By Appointment Only™

Monsieur Ho is to feet as Yves Saint Laurent was to fashion—worshiped by his clients and envied by his rivals as a master of his medium.  For the last three decades his name has been passed secretly from one glamorous parisienne to another as the best pedicurist in town. None other than La Deneuve, France’s most famous and demanding diva, is his number one fan.

“Many of my clients, like Madame Deneuve, have followed me since my beginning at Carita 27 years ago,” explains Ho, a discreet and soft-spoken man who cares for his word-of-mouth clientele in his own private salon near the Champs Elysées.

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In French,  pedicure means something entirely different from your twenty-buck NYC pedi.  It’s a curative treatment that only a podiatrist can perform, while beauté des pieds refers to the typical scrub and polish you get at your average nail salon. Monsieur Ho is both podiatrist and esthetician, meaning he can cure your feet and make them look divine. In a city where fashionable (read: uncomfortable) shoes are de rigeur at every age, his services bring springs back into steps.

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Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian Goes Bespoke

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The man who recreated Marie Antoinette’s favorite fragrance opens his first shop in Paris this month. You can go there to pick up off-beat gems like fragrant bubbles and paper, or, better yet, make an appointment to have this prince of perfume design your signature scent.

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While on a red eye flight home to Paris in 2001, the young, talented French perfumer Francis Kurkdjian was enjoying small talk with the woman beside him about their respective lines of work. It was a lovely tête-à-tête, full of funny coincidences and friends in common, but the conversation, however casual, was about to change his life!

Having already designed top-selling fragrances for big name brands (Le Mâle for Jean Paul Gaultier; Miracle Homme for Lancôme; Green Tea for Elizabeth Arden) and won prestigious industry prizes (the Francois Coty Perfumer Award in 2001, at the ripe age of 32!) Kurkdjian was itching for an exciting new career twist.

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His words didn’t fall on deaf ears. By the time we walked off the plane he had his most thrilling order yet: a private commission to design a made-to-measure scent for his well-heeled neighbor, Terry de Gunzburg, founder of the luxurious beauty brand by Terry and former creative director of YSL Beauté. (Note to self: Start talking to people on planes.)

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De Gunzburg naturally fell head over heals for the one-of-a-kind Fleur d’Oranger that Kurkdjian crafted specifically for her, and before he knew it le tout Paris was buzzing about his original olfactory works of art.  It didn’t take long before overseas beauties sniffed him out and he was back on those red eyes following his clients around the globe with his “labomobile,” a Pinel et Pinel custom steamer truck filled with over 200 scent samples.

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Ousé-An: Secret Masters of Massage

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All images by Nicholas Calcott for Paris By Appointment Only

There are dying languages, endangered foods and vanishing artisanal techniques. But did you know that there were therapeutic ancient massages that needed saving too??

Always willing to rally for a good cause (what a martyr, I know) I headed out to the 14th arrondissement to find out more about Dâm Bop Tâm Quât, a rare and endangered Vietnamese healing massage that blends techniques from the North and South of the country.

A natural remedy for stress, nervous tension, sleep disorders and emotional imbalance for nearly 500 years, the deep relaxation massage consists of gentle kneading and tapping movements along the body’s energy meridians.

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