Paris’ perfume houses
The blue, white and red logo of Etat Libre dâOrange is based on the Tricolore rosette worn during the French Revolution (Kim Laidlaw Adrey)
There’s something undeniably French -- so chic, so sensual, so luxurious -- about perfume, and, fittingly, Paris has a superlative selection of perfumers from which to choose an original, high-quality and quintessentially Parisian scent.
One of the city’s classic perfume houses is Annick Goutal, where dainty glass bottles of elegant perfume are sold in boudoir-like stores. Try Petite Cherie, a scent which Goutal created for her daughter, with fruity notes of pear and peach mixed with cut grass and rose.
The Left Bank perfumery, Diptyque, is famous around the world for its scented candles (fig is a bestseller), but also sells room fragrances and perfumes --perfect for those looking for a signature scent.
Frédéric Malle, the grandson of Serge Heftler, founder of Christian Dior Parfums, sees himself as a “fragrance editor”, bottling scents created by famous noses whom he views as “authors”. For example, Jean-Claude Ellena, who previously created perfumes for Hermès, has concocted several scents for Malle, including the fresh and woody Bigarade Concentrée. Use one of the home fragrances to perfume a room -- try Café Society which aims to capture the “ephemeral odour of the living room after the end of a Parisian dinner”.
Francis Kurkdjian founded his eponymous perfume house in 2009, having created his first scent -- Le Mâle for Jean-Paul Gaultier -- ten years earlier at the age of just 25. The house uses the purest ingredients packaged in chic and simple bottles. Pour le Matin is a fresh scent perfect, as its name would suggest, for the day, whereas Pour le Soir is an enveloping scent for the evening. Bespoke fragrances can also be created.
At the other end of the scale is Etat Libre d’Orange, an independent fragrance house founded in 2006 in the Marais district of Paris, and perhaps the most innovative and avant-garde of them all. Using the highest quality ingredients, the award-winning perfumer creates elegant yet subversive scents such as Jasmin et Cigarette, a perfume which mixes floral jasmine with the cold smoky notes of tobacco, to create the olfactive equivalent of a typically French femme fatale.
Whether you go for elegant and classic or innovative and controversial, make sure you seek out a rare and interesting scent as a souvenir of your trip.
Kim Laidlaw Adrey is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes unlockparis.blogspot.com.
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