Sunday, January 13, 2019

A Look Back At 2018 and Welcome to 2019


I sailed through the year blogging at a fairly steady pace until the holiday season, and starting at Thanksgiving time I hit a wall. Although I had lots of ideas for Christmas posts I was so busy that I never got them out. And now I am less busy but the writing lethargy remains, so I decided that looking back at the year on The Fragrant Journey would at least be a good mental exercise for me, and possibly highlight some stories that newer readers may have missed.

Is this the gate to Heaven? The Guerlain entrance, Paris, des Champs-Elysees

The strongest theme of this blog has always been scents of place and fragrances that resonate with visited locations, and later can serve as a reminder of these pleasures. A summer trip to France provided lots of inspiration for scented posts, from visits to the grand Galeries Lafayette, pictured above, which remind me of a tall spectacular wedding cake to small boutique shops that one stumbles across regularly when walking the streets of Paris. But perhaps nothing topped the thrill of wandering through fields of lavender and seeing patchwork fields of purple and green, every bit as beautiful as I had dreamed it would be. If you dream of such a trip or are interested in scents that remind you of France you can follow my journey here with Everything Is Lavender and follow the links to seven more stories.


Interviewing perfumers has been one of the biggest bonuses of blogging, although I'm not sure if readers enjoy it as much as I do. This year I got to meet two fabulous perfumers who were so generous with their time.

First was the gracious and beautiful Pissara Umavijani who welcomed me to her Paris shop. It was such a wonderful morning spending time with her and shop-dog Bambi in her elegant atelier. If you missed it you can read it here.
Pissara Umavijani of Parfums Dusita.


I also met Olivier Durbano who resides in Grasse and is passionate about the revival of this town which is so important to the history of the perfume industry. His shop is a magical lair full of wonders and he was the kindest of hosts. His perfumes seem to breathe with his positive energy. You can read more here.

Olivier Durbano 

The most unusual interview I had was with author Louise Penny, whose mysteries set in the imaginary town of Three Pines deep in the woods of Canada are perennial best sellers on the major book lists. I talked with her about why she scents her main characters as she does, and she was just as delightful as you would imagine if you've read her books and enjoyed the quirky characters she brings to life on the pages of her books. You can read more here.

Me with Louise Penny

A move right before the end of 2017 meant that 2018 was the first time in 14 years that Singapore was not the place I called home. Besides the numerous personal upheavals, this move directly affected my ability to source and sample perfumes. I had been spoiled with the convenience of taking a stroll to the nearby shopping district and having access to so many brands and being able to spray the newest perfume offerings, getting my exercise along with a new review. It was heaven! It's been a year and I am still adjusting!

It was a great honor to be listed as a nominee for a Perfumed Plum Award in 2018. The article which was in the running was a story from a trip to Rajasthan, India, in 2017 and you can read it here.

Last year at my end of year wrap up I said I hoped to be a more prolific writer/poster in 2018 but that did not happen. I will again state the desire to write more, as a discipline for an aging mind if nothing else!

Also as I stated last year, I don't do a best of list because there are so many bloggers who do that so well and who have sampled so many more perfumes than I was able to. On a personal level, I noticed that I have a developing appreciation for lighter more transparent scents. I still love the big dogs but I also now see places in my life where softer, less intrusive scents are welcome.

Reading these best of lists from Cafleurebon and Colognoisseur has spurred a sample order and you will be hearing more about those as the year develops, at least the successful scent trials. I hated to close out without at least one perfume review. I read about Essence Rare Houbigant on several blogs and it seemed just the sort of scent I would love. I don't have access to many brands where I live but I knew the local Neiman Marcus would be carrying this one so I went to give it a try, hopes high. Initially, it was a big disappointment. It's not that I didn't like it but at that price point I expect to be moved. 

Essence Rare takes an hour before I begin to understand the fuss. When I first spray it I actually dislike it, and that is not that common for me.  I do not smell the profusion of flowers or the mandarin notes. Eventually I do begin to smell lily and powdery notes but everything stays muted and quiet and never develops and blooms as I would expect from a perfume of this stature. I do believe in the effects of skin when mixing a perfume so your experience may well be delightful. Essence Rare is extremely pleasant but color me underwhelmed. This is what sometimes happens when the build-up of expectations is so enormous; it's the perfect setup for disappointment. At the end of the perfume's evolution I conclude that while I would happily wear this if someone were to gift it to me, I would never, ever, lay out the money it would cost me to add this to my collection. This quick review is based on one experience and I had something else sprayed on the other arm so it's possible if I gave it a more serious try I would come to a different conclusion.

Now all I can hope is that the rather large Luckyscent sample order I just placed based on other bloggers end of year recommendations will turn out to be more successful.

Thank you to those of you who have read some of my posts this year and to those who took the time to comment, either here or on my Facebook page, bless you! These conversations and these "online friendships" with fellow perfume lovers is a big part of the joy for me.

May we all have a 2019 filled with happiness and new discoveries!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Cheap As Chips: Roberto Cavalli EDP


Have you ever heard the phrase, "Cheap as Chips"? I first heard it when I started dating my future husband who was Australian. I put it down to other funny words and phrases he used, like jumper (sweater or sweatshirt), carpark (parking lot), bogan (trashy people), chook (chicken), dummy (pacifier), fringe (bangs), torch (flashlight), well, you get the idea. I think many of these phrases have British roots and Cheap as chips is a phrase I heard used a lot in Australia. There is even a chain of stores with this name, akin to what we call the Dollar Store in my area of the USA. It's a phrase I've adopted for its succinct descriptiveness and the ease with which it rolls off the tongue. It occurred to me recently that the vast majority of scents, mostly niche, that I write about are very expensive and I am verging on becoming a scent snob, so I decided to start a series on inexpensive scents that are fun to wear. This new series will be called Cheap As Chips, and the fragrances I talk about will be under $100 and usually readily available for far less at the discount sellers.

Roberto Cavalli is an Italian fashion designer best known for his proclivity in using animal prints in his designs, and as the creator of sandblasted jeans. He is the grandson of a well known Italian painter, Giuseppe Rossi. Today in addition to his designer line he has a men's line and the brand Just Cavalli, aimed at the youth market. His signature, though, is the animal print design and in particular, leopard prints. One of his quotes on his use of animal prints: "I copy the dress of an animal because I love to copy God. I think God is the most fantastic designer." 

A Cavalli design

Cavalli sold his perfume line to Coty sometime around 2012 and Roberto Cavalli EDP was one of the first releases. The box gives a nod to Cavalli's leopard print style.  It is sometimes referred to as Roberto Cavalli Signature, to distinguish it from the many other perfumes that now bear his name. I came across an old sample of Roberto Cavalli eau de parfum while cleaning out my boxes of perfume samples and decided to give it a try.



I sprayed the sample which is goodness knows how many years old with zero expectations, and for a moment I thought my low expectations would be met. Not much happened. But then in just a minute a lovely syrupy African Orange Flower note began to unfold, and cocooned in a soft cushiony amber-like blanket.  My first thought was did this resemble Elie Saab perfume which is an orange blossom powerhouse, but when I sprayed them side by side they are quite different. Elie Saab features the radiance of the orange blossom while Roberto Cavalli EDP uses it as part of recipe for an Oriental-style perfume. Benzoin, vanilla, and tonka are used to create this balsamic amber effect. As I've stated before in reviews, the vanilla and tonka combination can be absolutely beautiful but too much is like eating cotton candy with a bad tooth. Here in Roberto Cavalli EDP  I think the perfumer, Louise Turner, got it right. I love big scents so for me this is a softer oriental which I would be as comfortable wearing during the day as at night, but I can imagine that those used to frequenting lighter scents could find this titanic. I find it to be a cozy scent  but at the same time throwing off some sex appeal. It think it does a pretty good job of alluding to the leopard print wear for which Cavalli is famed. It is a warming scent but alluring and to me it seems to cast a golden glow. I think it is scent where you get a lot of bang for the bucks. Have you tried any of the Roberto Cavalli scents?

Eartha Kitt


Top photo of Joan Collins a Google image. Perfume sample my own.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

By Kilian Woman In Gold and Gold Knight and Paris Atelier des Lumieres Exhibit


There is an immersion exhibit of painter Gustav Klimt's art in Paris at the Atelier des Lumieres, and when I was in Paris this summer it was on my "must do" list. I read the book The Lady In Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Anne Marie O'Connor when it came out a few years ago, and I really enjoyed the story of the origin of the painting, how it was stolen in the war years, and its eventual return. I am interested in books about World War II and this book was especially fascinating as it used the story of the Bloch-Bauer family's stolen art as a way to tell about the Nazi invasion of Austria.

Before the book and movie about his portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Klimt was probably best known for his painting The Kiss. It was also painted during Klimt's "Golden Period". These paintings were influenced by the art nouveau movement and additions of gold leaf and gilt were a defining element. The early 20th century was a time of wealth and culture for the Viennese Jewish community before it all went horribly wrong with the Nazi invasion, and these paintings capture some of the palatial style and grandeur of the era.

Klimt's art works are sumptuous, luxurious, and quite daring for the time, and it was bliss being surrounded by the various paintings, and small elements from the painting blown up to a giant size as they appeared on the huge walls, then melted into a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors, only to rush back like water falls of pattern and color, all to a background of Viennese waltz music. Eventually we just sat on the floor and let the art surround us, but when you first enter there is the sensation of swimming in the paintings. The exhibition was originally set to run from April 13 through November 11 ending this weekend, but due to its success it has been extended through January 6 so if you're anywhere near, go!


The perfume choice to wear to this exhibit was obvious, my sample vial of Woman In Gold by  Kilian which I had brought with me on the trip. Kilian Hennessy and perfumer Calice Becker sought to introduce a perfume which portrayed the gold leaf in the painting and the interplay between light and shadow in the artwork. Do you get an impression of color when you apply perfume? I sometimes do, and when I sprayed Woman In Gold I saw a luxurious purple, not gold. The scent gives the feeling of lavishness as the notes all smell rich and full, lending an air of opulence.


Woman In Gold opens with bergamot and mandarin orange notes but these don't come across as citrus, instead they are deep and oily like you are smelling a purer, richer version of the oil. Then you get a bit of aldehydes which gives the fragrance some lift. Heart notes of rose, vanilla, and tonka lend a rich almost syrupy sweetness. The rose note is definitely there but not in the way you would say, "Oh, a rose scent." It is used to add fullness and is well blended with the vanilla and tonka. For me the richness of the scent references the wealth and luxury of Klimt's patrons during the time frame the portrait would have been painted. Eventually base notes of patchouli and Akigalawood lend further depth. Akigalawood is a Givaudan trademark, and is a patchouli derivative with peppery notes and aspects of agarwood.


Overall, though I didn't see gold when I sprayed the scent, it does give a resplendent aura of wealth, culture, and luxury that defined early  20 century Vienna in the time period between the two great wars. This is initially a very strong scent so spray with care. I enjoyed wearing Woman In Gold, and I really can't imagine wearing it except in cooler weather as I feel it would radiate too strongly in heat. Me and tonka have a touchy relationship and a little goes a long way with me. There were times when I was wearing Woman In Gold that I was ready to say goodbye to the tonka scent, but when I awoke the next day there was still a reasonable trail of beautiful scent emitting from the skin on my wrist where I had sprayed, and it smelled really good on Day 2! The enamel box that comes with Woman In Gold is an homage to Klimt's style during his golden period, beautiful stuff if you can afford it. In researching this perfume, many people compared it to Tocade by Rochas which is a much cheaper alternative but I wasn't able to get my hands on any of this in time to do a direct comparison.



Gold Knight is the companion scent meant for the male market and it definitely does engender golden images due to the extremely heavy use of the honey note. I like the bergamot opening which is very different from its counterpart the Woman in Gold. It is brighter, fresher, and more light and sunny. It starts to become aromatic and then about ten minutes in the honey note starts coming on. Wow, the honey comes on thick and fast, picture a river of honey flowing toward you, enveloping everything in its sticky path. This is a woody vanilla scent with a patchouli base but for me, the honey dominates totally and it pretty quickly becomes a honey bomb on me. Yes, there is definitely the idea of a shimmering gold so perfumer Pascal Gaurin succeeded in that regard, but I am distracted by the edible factor in Gold Knight; it is almost too life like for me. However, if you have been searching for a perfume with a dominant honey note, welcome to your holy grail.


And finally, if you want to experience art in a new fantastical way, or if you are just an admirer of Klimt's work, get yourself to this exhibit before it closes at the beginning of 2019!

Photos and perfumes my own.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Happy Diwali! Celebrating With Jo Malone Jasmine Sambac and Marigold & Honeysuckle and Davana


Deepavali, or Diwali, depending on where you are, was always my favorite holiday in Singapore, and there they celebrated pretty much everything. I loved the colorful lights, I loved the warm and spicy Indian food--delicious and cheap as chips in Singapore's Little India community. As my husband and I moved from Singapore late last year, this will be the first time in fifteen years I've missed the lights and the celebration.

A couple of years ago I wrote My Marigold Scented Deepavali Perfumes: Profumum Roma Tagete and En Voyage Perfumes Tagetes Femme to commemorate this event.This year I'm doing something similar but surprisingly I am featuring reviews of the veddy veddy British Jo Malone, two of which inspire with references to India and the scents I encountered there years ago.

Is Jo Malone having a bit of an India moment or what? Romancing the memory of the British Raj era? For Jo Malone Jasmin Sambac and Marigold, a new addition to the Cologne Intense line, the perfume was actually inspired by the jasmine fields of south India. Jo Malone's Head of Fragrance Development (best job ever?), Celine Roux, and Master Perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui visited south India in 2016 and were inspired by the beautiful scent of the sambac jasmine and its use as an adornment for hair and as temple offerings. They also noticed the colorful orange and yellow marigolds that have great significance in Hindu worship. When I lived in India I always found it interesting how reverentially people treated the marigold, which is not really used in floral arrangements in the Western world.

www.Rediff.com

I have always admired how Jo Malone fragrances sometimes twin two disparate notes, like hitting a discordant tune on a piano that somehow makes music. In the case of Jasmine Sambac and Marigold I think it works well. The first time I tried this perfume the marigold was very evident and really reminded me of scents in India. It added that slightly discordant note which makes the perfume more interesting and not just another jasmine, albeit a very lovely one. As for the jasmine, Ms. Bijaoui said her intention was to make that note as realistic as possible, and she added orange blossom and honey to achieve this luxuriant freshness and opulence of the jasmine petals. To bring warmth to the mix, in addition to the marigold she added vanilla, ylang ylang and benzoin. When the jasmine eventually loses some steam, these are the notes that keep the scent warmly generating a lovely scent for many more hours. Jasmine Sambac and Marigold is one of the more interesting from the line that I've tried in a while, but if you don't like jasmine I can't see this swaying you to buy.

When Honeysuckle and Davana Cologne was released earlier this year I was eager to try it because I love honeysuckle scents! (Go here and here to read more about that). The reason I thought to put this perfume, which Jo Malone markets as the quintessential English countryside fragrance, in a post on India and Diwali, is the addition of Davana to the perfume. 


The davana plant is native to southern India, the same place that had the fields of jasmine sambac that inspired Ms. Bijaoui and Ms. Roux. The davana flower and the oil that is gathered from the plant are known for a sweet and boozy odor, but it can show other aspects such as herbaceous, balsamic, woody and bittersweet. It is the bittersweet that interests me the most because that is the sensation I got when I first sprayed the cologne, along with the herbaceous note. It gives an interesting twist to the otherwise virginal honeysuckle note. When the honeysuckle appears it is very sweet, delicate and appealing. Jo Malone calls it a "sunny" fragrance and I would agree with that. Ultimately is goes to a mossy base note and on my skin becomes a bit muddled and indistinct at this point.

I enjoyed both of these perfumes and I have been known to be critical of Jo Malone, as some of their offerings I simply struggle to smell anything. Bear in mind that I am a huge white flower lover and factor that into my affection I'm showing to these two new offerings from the house of Jo Malone. Nevertheless I am encouraged that I have positive feelings and it makes me look forward to see what next they will produce.

Happy Diwali or Deepavali to those who celebrate and apologies for my lateness in posting, as the holiday is about to draw to a close.

Top photo www.littledayout.com. Bottom photo Google image. Perfume sample my own.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Perfumes to Wear for Halloween


This weekend before Halloween is the traditional time to throw parties for those long past the age to go door to door for candy. Here is a look, all in fun, of what perfumes to wear for Halloween!

Vert de Fleur by Tom Ford

A green so dark it is almost black. Sinewy, bitter, and poisonous. Twisting, smothering green, pungent and sharp. An earthy and fierce opening, which fades to something tamer as time progresses. Notes: galbanum, iris, hyacinth, neroli, bergamot, basil, jasmine, vetiver, patchouli, oakmoss.


You are entering a forest. It is dark, dank, and misty. You smell the fir needles that have fallen to the path, padding it with a softness that muffles your footsteps, and maybe the footsteps of those watching from the shadows. The needles and leaves are rotting and decaying, moist from the rain on dark paths that never see sunlight in the depths of the forest. Suddenly you sense something, actually you smell it. It smells like disturbed earth, something ancient. A smell that attracts you at the same time it repels. It's too late. He's come for you. You fall in the depths of the verdant earth, that wet leaves, and the scent of the long dead. Notes: Carpathian fir needles, red cedar, black amber, black patchouli, scorched earth, blood musk.


You are in a limestone cave, the wall oozing dampness and wet to your touch as you glide your hand along the surface to find your way in the dark. There is the smell of vegetation that clings to the walls, surviving on the filtered shards of sunlight that penetrate the depths of the cave in the lightest part of the day. Suddenly there is an animal smell mixed with leather. You can see nothing but you sense the movement of a hundred thousand tiny flapping wings as the bats rush past you for the nightly ritual of the hunt. Notes: soil tincture, fruit, fig, green notes, musk, leather, vetiver, sandalwood.


They move among us and pass as human. But if you are still and mindful, you can know them by their scent. It is dry like the papyrus tomes in which their history is written. Just as the trees which make oud are infected with mold which over the course of time forms a seductive resin, so do these creatures turn a disease, life in perpetuity, into a temptation. They leave a trail of smoke, moss, and earthy patchouli. To tempt they carry the redolence of sweet tobacco fields and the lightness of lemon, but do not be taken in. Their wish is to turn you into one of them. Notes: limoncello, incense, cardomom, patchouli, papyrus, tobacco leaves, moss.


Deep in the forest hide the woodland sprites. They have magic ways. They can call to the animals and make them do their bidding, as they are part animal themselves. Have you ever walked through the forest and felt that there was something there, watching you silently? Perhaps it is the woodland sprite. They can disappear into tree trunks and blend into the background of the forest, it's their secret camouflage. The only way you may know they are around is the small white mushrooms they feast on in the dead of night, they need them to survive. Train your nose to smell the subtle earthiness of the little white mushrooms that grow in the dark loamy earth. They will smell of the woods of the forest, of the animals that rustle amongst them, of smoke, and of forest herbs like clary sage and wild chamomile. Notes: castoreum, civet, cedarwood, vetiver, leather, cepes, peru balsam, wild chamomile, bergamot, clary sage, galbanum.




The first thing you smell as he comes for you, appearing from nowhere as a wraith is the cold, astringent, and metallic scent of blood. Then your mind whirls with images of dirt, an animalic miasma of fur and skin, and the incongruous note of a beautiful red rose. As you seem to fall and melt toward the earth you realize that the ringing smell of blood is your blood. Notes: Patchouli, rose, costus root, black musk, bull's blood


The cold stone which has stood for one hundred years should feel safe and stable, but instead the mists lend an air of danger. Strangely there is the scent of incense from the ancient crypts of the church and a faint lingering note of lavender. Notes: Incense, lavender, iris, amber, wood notes.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Travels In France, Part Eight - Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain, Philosykos & Volutes, Three Scents for Autumn


I had to limit the perfume shops I could visit on my trip to Paris but the iconic Diptyque flagship store at 34 boulevard Saint Germain was always on my radar. I can't remember for sure but think I first became aware of this brand in the early 2000s and it was through their candles. Diptyque was one of the first to establish themselves as a purveyor of the luxury candle. Before Facebook, when online chat groups like Makeup Alley were more the norm, Diptyque was the new discovery. Their story actually started much earlier though, all the way back to 1961.


Three friends with differing artistic talents banded together; Christiane Gautrot the interior designer, Desmond Knox-Leet the painter, and Yves Coueslant, the theater director and set designer. They started by designing wallpapers and fabrics and eventually opened the shop at the iconic address. Over time they began to transform the shop into a collection of curiosities gathered in their travels, a place to find the unique and unusual item in a finely curated collection.


 I spoke with Henri Fournier, Diptyque's fourth original employee, at the Saint Germain location. "It was a gift store in the beginning. We had at this time a blanket from Wales, some products from British perfumers, some jewels, some potpourri from England, and also of course the candles. We were famous for the candles at the beginning and then we became a perfumer."

Henri Fournier in the Diptyque shop.

I asked Mr. Fournier when Diptyque's growth and expansion happened. "It was about ten years ago when we were bought by an American company based in England," said Fournier. "It was a big change, around 2005."


When you walk into the Saint Germain storefront, you get the sense not much has changed here. Being surrounded by all the candles and scents gives a heady feeling and I wish I could just scoop the lot into a big shopping bag! Now for reviews of three of my favorites for autumn.

Volutes



Volutes has one of the most romantic backstories of any of the Diptyque perfumes. The copy reads:
1930, on an ocean liner linking Marseille and Saigon. On the upper deck, women dressed in evening gowns linger, cigarette holders in hand. The orchestra plays in the lounge; first waltzes, then the Charleston. Time expands. From his childhood memories, Yves Coueslant, one of Diptyque's founders, preserved the sounds, colours, and above all, fragrances. Memories of the mild tobacco of the Egyptian cigarettes smoked by the most elegant ladies. The smoke would rise up in wisps, mingling with the powdery scent of their makeup.
Mr. Coueslant is responsible for one of my favorites from Diptyque, Do Son, a breezy tuberose tribute to his Indochina memories of childhood summers spent in a seaside summer home on Ha Long Bay. I envy Mr. Coueslant these travel experiences from a time when places still remained totally true to their culture, unpolluted with outside cultural influences. The Egyptian cigarettes that are referenced here were an iconic 1930s Egyptian brand, Khedive, which had a sweet fruity tobacco flavor.

Volutes translates to "curl of smoke" and this is what I smell in the opening. I smell tobacco,  and sometimes that note can be too harsh for my nose and overwhelm the senses. Here it is softly muted, a pleasant aroma but not like we're in the middle of a tobacco field. There is a subtle spiciness of dried fruits, emphasis on the "dry"; these fruits haven't turned to a sugary pulp. As the tobacco note warms on my skin I get a whiff of cherry tobacco flavor that reminds me of an experience in an Egyptian shisha cafe with a hookah many years ago. The cherry note is slight. Opoponox can add several scent characteristics: honeyed, smokey, and powdery balsamic. They are all present in Volutes. There is an iris note which comes across as rooty and earthy. This scent is warmly elegant and would be equally sophisticated on a man or woman. It would also make a perfect scent to wear as the temperatures begin to cool.

Volutes EDT is very similar to the EDP, of course, but the immortalle is much more evident to me. It gives me that maple syrup vibe which I don't get at all from the EDP. Later in the wear, where the EDP is very smoky and spicy, the EDT doesn't have any of this drama on my skin.

Philosykos



Philosykos EDT opens with a verdant fig scent. To me it comes across as if the stem of the fruit has just broken from the branch and the sap is oozing out, sticky and green. The EDP version opens softer, surprisingly. It doesn't have the sour sap smell which makes the EDT so distinctive to my nose. The fig is very dry, not sweet and succulent. Philosykos is meant to represent the whole tree: the fig wood branches, the green leaves, and the milky notes of the fig itself. Thankfully the coconut note is very quiet on my skin, which is what makes me think of this as a good scent for fall. Many fig perfumes emphasize the coconut note which can turn fig based perfumes into beachy scents. Here the fig stays green, milky, and later, woody. In this instance I prefer the EDT to the EDP. I expected great things from the stronger perfume version, but it just sits on my skin. Meanwhile the EDT is so green, piquant, sourish, that it makes me feel I've entered some sort of fantastical fig forest.

34 boulevard Saint Germain




Perhaps my favorite of the Diptyque scents I am highlighting for fall wear is this one, Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain. This scent was released in 2011 in celebration of the 50 year anniversary of the founding of the company. The idea was to capture the scent when you walk into a Diptyque shop, and specifically their flagship store at 34 Boulevard Saint Germain. It is an amalgamation of the experience of walking through that door; the polished wooden cabinets that display the wares, the multiple scents of the candle wax, the hints of scents from the many bottles of perfume. It could have been a mess, but I love it and find it warm, happy, and cozy. Do you know that lift you get when you walk into a fragrant setting? This smell takes me to that happy place and the longer it is on my skin the more scent I get. Warm resinous woods are spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and cardomom. The scent is warm and rich and makes me think of windswept streets with leaves blowing down the sidewalks, people wrapping their coat more closely around them, then entering the warming welcoming comfort of 34 Boulevard Saint Germain.

Pinterest Image

There is a briskness to this fragrance that speaks of fall. This would be my perfect fragrance to cuddle into a cozy chair on a cold day with a cup of cinnamon tea and a good book. I feel it's a bit of an under the radar gem. I believe any one of these scents are a good pick for welcoming autumn.

For more about my perfumed travels in France, start with Part One, here.

All photos are my own unless otherwise indicated. Perfume samples are my own.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Travels In France, Part Seven: Shopping In the Le Marais District of Paris


When I was planning our trip to Paris I had no idea in where to stay. The last time I had been in Paris was twenty years before and a lot had changed. That time we were staying at Paris Disney and commuting in to the city after the kids tired of the park. Yikes, what an embarrassing admission! I remembered eating dinner one night in Place des Vosges, a beautiful square lined with stately homes and hotels, a playground in the center where children were enjoying the late afternoon sun, and a wonderful waiter who treated my young children like little adults worthy of his splendid attention. So when I looked on the map I saw Place des Vosges was in Le Marais, an area I knew nothing about, but when I found the hotel below I was sold. My husband and I become a united well-oiled machine when we travel. I make plans, he executes them. I take care of the dream stuff, he takes care of practicalities like phone cards. And we both enjoy hotels that are small, quaint, and authentic, not a large less personal experience.


The Caron de Beaumarchais was everything I was looking for. Very French, check. Small, only three rooms per floor, check. Charming and personal: the concierge gave us our best restaurant recommendations of the trip. And when I walked in the room and saw that they had Annick Goutal shower accessories in Eau de Hadrian, I knew I was in the right place!


Le Marais is where you will find some of the oldest buildings in Paris and walking down the narrow winding streets you can imagine you are back in time two hundred years ago.  This is what most of Paris used to look like, a labyrinth of twisty cobblestone narrow streets. The stately Haussman buildings and wide boulevards are beautiful and impressive, but the Marais gives us a glimpse of the past. The hustle and bustle of the more touristy areas and their busy streets, where often I heard more Americans speaking than French, could be blissfully left behind when we arrived back to the Marais district each evening, searching out a new bar to unwind and have a drink before dinner. It is an area that is home to the Jewish community, the Chinese community (less evident), and the LGBT community. It feels relaxed, fun, and cool.

www.AParisGuide.com

What was a complete surprise to me is that it is awash with niche perfumeries. There were so many I found it impossible to visit even half, and even more frustrating was that I quickly ran out of skin to spray and I've never been a fan of smelling paper strips. So many bottles of perfume and so little time! Although Arrondissement 1 has the designer boutiques and some wonderful shops, Le Marais seemed to me to have a larger number of shops in a condensed area than I saw elsewhere.

No reviews today; I'll just show you some store fronts, and remember, this is just a small number of the stores represented there. And scroll past the photos for my favorite happenings in the Marais.

Atelier

Diptyque

Frederic Malle

Annick Goutal

Kiehl's

The newish company Parle Moi De Parfum

A local perfumer

Acqua di Parma

Histoires de Parfums was closed when I went by. I was disappointed as they were one that I really wanted to visit.

I found the Caron shop the last night and was too late to get in.

Penhaligon's


L'Artisan Partumeur


Beautiful window in jewelry shop near our hotel.


 We really became attached to this neighborhood and came back every night to eat dinner here. I've read Parisians are unfriendly but in the Marais we found the opposite to be true. Two incidents: one afternoon we had landed back in our neighborhood after putting in 20,000 steps touring. We saw an inviting little cafe but all the outdoor seating was taken up with what looked like locals. We were about to sit inside when one of the men urged us to join their table. It turned out they were a group on gentlemen who gathered here every afternoon, and he spent the next hour telling us great stories about his arrival to Paris twenty years before from Ethiopia, the changes he had seen in the Marais neighborhood, and his opinion of all the tourists, which was pretty benign.  Our last night we were at a bar having a drink and my husband found a kindred spirit in a local who arrived on motorbike. This is them chatting on the street. The Caron shop, sadly closed for the day by the time of our arrival, is right behind. 

Historically the Marais was the area of the Jewish quarter, and there is still a small quadrant where reportedly the best falafal sandwiches are sold in Paris. On the weekend the wait can be over an hour so we tried it during the week.


 I could post more, about the museums in the area, the fabulous restaurants, the proximity to the river and Notre Dame, the beautiful hidden parks, but I'll close with a photo (not mine) of one of the restaurants we tried. I hope you have enjoyed my tour of Le Marais.

www.NYHabitat.com

To read more about perfumed travels in France, start with Travels In France, Part One, here.

All photos my own unless otherwise indicated.