Yoga Concept: Bringing Ethical & Stylish Sportswear to Paris

I'm a sucker for stories about people who leave their day jobs to take on an entirely new challenge, especially when their project coincides with their passions and adheres to ethical standards of business. This is why ex-lawyer turned shop owner Pamela Levy's story puts a big smile on my face. Levy opened her store, Yoga Concept, online at first and has now set up shop in the charming 3rd arrondissement of Paris.

The store is stocked with the highest quality of yoga wear and accessories, with all but a few brands being made in the USA or Canada with recycled or organic cotton and bamboo.

Pamela is dedicated to bringing quality, durable, and stylish sportswear to a city where sneakers and sweats are very much not à la mode. Offering an alternative to your boyfriend's old t-shirts and poor-quality sportswear from chain stores, Yoga Concept showcases clothing that is made to withstand yoga stretches and can also be worn on the street.

While an unwritten social code in Paris seems to prohibit sauntering around town in Spandex, the articles that Levy has hand-picked for her store provide the perfect loophole for anyone wanting to live on the edge and actually walk to the gym- or yoga studio- in their gym clothes.

The recycled cotton t-shirts & tanks are super soft and lush to the touch, and the leggings and pants & top combos are examples of some super serious engineering, cut to fit just right and sewn to last through a million down facing dogs.

If you're looking for a gift for the yogi in your life, Yoga Concept also stocks items that make thoughtful presents for the under-pressure urbanite. Lavender eye pillows, scented candles, and Ayurvedic oils are perfect enablers for a moment of respite in the middle of a busy day.

At Yoga Concept you can also find everything you need for a yoga class, including mats (made from recycled rubber & cotton), bolsters, blocks, and bags-but the biggest treasure you'll find at Yoga Concept is Pamela Levy, a rich resource of all things yoga. With her store she has created a hub & headquarters for yoga-files to learn more about the local yoga scene.

Both an engaged participant in the Parisian yoga culture as well as an impartial observer, Levy can advise both novices and veterans as to where they can find the best studios and teachers for their yoga needs. She is also tapped into the "underground yoga scene" which is probably as cool as it sounds- but you'll have to head to Yoga Concept to find out!

Yoga Concept 123 rue de Turenne 75003 Paris m° Filles du Calvaire (line 8)

Hours: Tues-Sat, 10h30-19h

Absolution: Organic cosmetics made in France

My article on Paris Spas in the Huffington Post introduced me to a ton of great spots to relax and recharge in the city. One of my favorite discoveries was l'Echappée Spa, where weary urbanites can tuck away and enjoy a heated swimming pool and a full-service hammam along with the gamut of traditional spa services.
 
L'Echappée Spa provided a window into the world of respite that is available to over-worked Parisians, as well as a doorway to a new discovery: the French-made cosmetic brand Absolution
 
Absolution is a range of unisex cosmetics that can be customized based on your mood or, more importantly, the whims of your skin. Absolution products are used in all of L'Echappée Spa's facial treatments, which is fitting as one of the brand's goals is to strike "the right balance between an eco-conscious and urban lifestyle" and I can't think of a better place to strike that balance than at L'Echappée.
 
The concept behind the products is simple: you invest in a base cream- either for the day or night version- and then you choose from a variety of solutions ("Controle", "Eclat", "Energie") that you then mix in to a dab of the base cream, adapting that day's care to your particular caprice. 
 
The containers are constructed so that one can easily dispense a dollop a day and whip up a creative cocktail for your skin care regime.
 
The coolest bit about Absolution is that the entire line of products is both made in France and made with organic ingredients (59% from organic farming and 99% from natural origin). 
 
While the products come with a price tag typically associated with high-end skin care (prices range from 30-69 euro), they also bare a seal of approval from Ecocert,  a trustworthy organic certification authority.  So if you're able to spend a little more on beauty supplies, why not support locally made and authentically organic products?
 
Absolution cosmetics can be bought in Paris at the main office in the 3rd arrondissement (19 rue Béranger) and at  L'Echappée Spa (64 rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011) as well as  in a handful of stores scattered around Europe. Products can also be bought online and the company has just launched a new American Online Boutique !    

Marché du Mois: L'Echoppée Locale

Editor's Note: Unfortunately L'Echoppé Locale has shut down since the time of publication
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his month's marché is special because it is the only one of its kind. While not a marché in the traditional open-air market sense, L'Echoppée Locale embodies the farmer's market spirit more fully than many of the city's weekly outdoor markets. This is because L'Echoppée Locale stocks only products from producers in the Ile-de-France region.

The people behind L'Echoppée Locale are clearly loyal to their shop's mission statement, refusing to stock any product that wasn't made within the confines of the region, and the result is delightful. The shop manages to offer a wide variety of products (mostly bottled, canned, or preserved in some way) and shopping their is like taking a true tour d'Ile de France.
While there are few fresh vegetables for sale, one has a tempting choice of items that would make great gifts for your favorite locavore or creative accents to your next meal. La Rose de Provins and Le Coquelicot de Nemours make several appearances as pretty-in-pink limonades, bon bons, honey, and even in vinegar. A coquelicot liquor was also packaged up among a selection of great under 15 euro gifts which included local mustards and confitures.
Local beers are also on display, I picked up a bottle of Biere de Brie that I didn't get a chance to taste at the Ile-de-France Soirée Maltée. Next time I go back, I'll be sure to pick up a bottle of local wine, the Vin des Coteaux de Suresnes (15.80 euro). I'm sure this vin de table would go well with the Echoppée Locale's cheese selection, which advertises artisinal Brie amongst its choices.
Overwhelmed by the choice, and wanting to take something home that I could try that night, I settled on the Beer de Brie (6.30 euro) and a bottle of Coquelicot Limonade (5 euro) that I mixed with some of my homegrown mint and (store bought) vodka to make a refreshing pink and green cocktail.
L'Echoppée Locale is a requirement on the route of any locavore, check it out and take some of the Ile-de-France home with you!
L'Echoppée Locale
237 rue Saint Martin
Paris 75003
Open Tues.-Fri. 10h-19h
Saturday 14h-20h