Friday, September 30, 2016

Weekend In Paris: With MFK Petit Matin & Grand Soir, Cafe Noir & Eau de Madeleine

The imminent arrival of October is making me long for a quick getaway. A weekend in Paris would be lovely. A quaint ivy draped hotel in one of Paris's charming arrondissements, fine dining in the French manner, and strolling through the park as the leaves turn golden. But alas, for me it's not to be so my trip will have to be a virtual one via photos and dreams, as I imagine how I would spend each precious moment and what perfumes I'd be wearing while I experienced the City of Light.

My flight's arrival would get me in too late to have a big evening so I would wander the streets until finding the perfect small cafe, perhaps having a light bite to eat and sit and watch Paris pass by. I love people watching when visiting cities. It's a great way to get a feel for the place. I would finish my meal with a dark rich brew, designed to give me a jolt of energy to make my way to the most hole-in-the-wall jazz club I could find. Besides my coffee, I'd wear a special perfume to get me in the mood.

I have no desire to smell like a mug of Starbucks brew but DSH Perfumes Cafe Noir doesn't disappoint. It is a much more sophisticated and multifaceted perfume than one might expect from a coffee-centered perfume. On the DSH website the perfume is described as an oriental that harmonizes notes of spices, wood, resins, and florals with the beloved black coffee note. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's perfumes always have a long list of notes and this one is no exception. This perfume feels rich, sophisticated and embracing. Notes of bergamot add brightness to the labdanum, benzoin, and balsam. Cinnamon adds spicy heat and a touch of vanilla smooths and sweetens. I occasionally smell a sliver of green, more a thread than a note. This is a delicious brew which uses the idea of coffee as a jumping off point, then expands on this by adding lots of luscious notes. It is the perfect romantic and complex French-style perfume to start our adventure.

We've arranged for a small apartment with a killer view of the Eiffel Tower on After an hour of good jazz we wind our way through the streets to our waiting pad. I luxuriate in a warm bath with a glass of bubbly and enjoy the lights of the tower before drifting off to sleep in our comfy bed.

I am normally not a morning person, but when I'm jet lagged I tend to wake up before dawn with an instant alertness and the feeling of wanting to start the day as soon as possible. I love what feels like stolen moments, being awake as dawn lights begin to turn the black sky to fuzzy gray then pale yellow light. The first birds begin singing as the world awakens. Maison Francis Kurkdjian has introduced two new perfumes to celebrate the lights of Paris, Petit Matin to commemorate sunrise in Paris and Grand Soir to mark the excitement of the eveninghours. Petit Matin was Kurkdjian's answer to a Paris morning before dawn. His own copy says, "Rise at dawn and escape into the delightful freshness of an early morning in Paris."

Flicker Romane Villa

The scent is composed of litsea cubeba (also known as may chang), lemon from Calabria, hawthorn, lanvadin, orange blossom, musk, and ambroxin. The perfume opens with a soft luminescent pale lemon note, reminiscent of the first traces of light in the morning sky. The litsea cubeda in particular provides a creamy soft sweet citrus note. The hawthorn and orange blossom add very pure floral notes for a sweetness and a blossoming effect to the perfume. After a few hours it softly fades and the musk notes leave a lingering finish. To me this doesn't feel like a citrus cologne, which the notes might indicate. There is something very pure and illuminating about this perfume.

I can't be in Paris without visiting at least one magnificent cathedral. Coming from a part of America where no building is more than one hundred years old, these fabulously constructed edifices with fantastically soaring roofs and colorful diamond dappled stained glass windows make me swoon. My husband and I once wandered into a Polish-language Catholic service in Paris, and the somber chants,darkened lights and swinging incense burners made me feel we had stepped back in time several centuries. Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger Eau De Madeleine (quite the mouthful!)  captures the experience of visiting a stunning cathedral, inhaling the incense permeated stone walls from three hundred years of worship, then stepping through heavy wooden doors into the startling sunlight and air filled with the pervasive smell from the nearby creperie cart. There is a citrus burst on application, but it not a fresh bright note, it is the brightness of light through stained glass, beautifully present but darker and subdued. The incense note is the strongest but it is softened by the slight citrus and a musky vanilla which wraps around the incense. There is a balsamic sweetness which feels like resins, but I see none listed so maybe it's the combination of the vanilla and incense. This is an interesting combination of incense and sweetness but it's not really a gourmand. If you want a scent that is less church notes and more sugary crepes try Prada Candy. By the way, the name Eau de Madeleine is meant more as a reference to Proust than an attempt to smell like bakery goods, although that aspect is slightly present.

Fortified with crepes, we're now ready for our dose of culture, but not a huge venue like the Louvre. A smaller exhibit, something like this show at the Musee Du Luxembourg, followed afterwards by a stroll around the Luxembourg Garden.

Before we know it the day has passed and it's time to prepare for an evening out and for this moment, I've chosen to wear Maison Francis Kurkdjian Grand Soir. This is the partner to Petit Matin and really couldn't be more different. Where as Petit Matin sprinkles you with light and clarity, Grand Soir is deep, dark and mysterious. It is composed of labdanum from Spain, benzoin from Siam, tonka bean from Brazil, and vanilla and amber accords. These are some of my favorite notes in perfumery that always work on my skin, so if you have similar tastes or like Orientals definitely give this a try. The resins are warm and sinuous and after spraying the perfume I feel bathed in a luxurious balm of scent. The notes blend together well; the vanilla adds sweetness but it doesn't feature too strongly in the scent. The amber, labdanum, and benzoin meld into a comforting yet elegant mix. It smell so warm on my skin that I almost sense a cinnamon note, but it's not listed. This is a thoroughly grown up perfume which would be equally beautiful on a man or woman and on my skin, it makes a statement without being overbearing. It definitely makes me feel that I am in for a special evening, and is the perfect perfume to wear to the opera.

We follow this gorgeous venue with a late night dinner at Le Meurice. (My perfume is still going strong, no need to respray!)

The next morning I have no no need to reapply perfume. The Grand Soir is muted but still very discernible, now just warm and fuzzy rather than the sexy creature from the night before. It wafts up pleasantly to remind me to the glorious evening just past.

We'll find a cute small cafe to order our coffee and croissants, then either wander the streets, bicycle along the Seine, or if we're still feeling arty, go to this exhibit which is free to the public all day Sunday, October 2.

And of course, there is always perfume shopping! I hope you've enjoyed our virtual getaway and exploring these great perfumes that remind me of Paris! What perfumes would you wear on your trip to Paris?

All samples my own. All photos unless otherwise indicated.

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