Perhaps one of the most traditional gestures of romance is an overflowing bouquet. Two dozen roses as a grand display of love… only to have them all wilting on the counter a few days later. A week if you’re lucky. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, there’s the scramble for the perfect floral arrangement — but why not perfume, instead? The enduring scent, bottled up, with no expiration date.
Perfume is one of the most quintessentially French products. While the region of Provence is the most associated with this refined art and is home to some of the world’s most prestigious fragrance productions, not everyone can make a trip down south—and you don’t really need to. There are actually a number of unique perfume experiences and niche perfume boutiques in Paris where you can get an excellent introduction to perfume and even try your hand at making your own fragrance.
This niche perfumery in the Marais offers excellent perfume workshops that are educational, interactive, and fun. The two-hour olfactory experience begins with an engaging and thorough overview of the history of perfume and the perfume-making process before giving participants the skills to identify scents and create their own personalized fragrance using the perfumery’s high-quality distilled essences.
Everyone leaves with a small bottle of their scent, which is also saved in their system so you can reorder when needed. English workshops are run five days per week and can be booked here.
If you would like to know more about the historical and botanical sides of perfume production, then the Perfume Sensorial Experience by Picturesque Voyages is the perfect match. Led by art historian and garden expert, Susan Taylor-Leduc, the tour delves into perfume’s history and manufacturing process, from raw materials to bottling, and includes making your own fragrance. This experience is a great complement to their tours of the gardens of Paris, Versailles, and elsewhere in Île-de-France.
Le Musée du Parfum
You can get a good overview of the history of perfume at this museum by famous perfumery Fragonard. Located in the Opéra district, the free guided tours use informative displays and vintage objects to illustrate how perfume developed in France and became a unique luxury item. There is also a hands-on component to test your nose towards the end of the tour.
If you’d like to learn about perfume then put your knowledge into practice in shops in Paris, this these tours will give you the right tools. The two-hour experience starts with the foundations of perfume history, the use of chemistry, and its incorporation by fashion brands. You’ll then learn about raw materials and how to identify them. Nose trained, the group visits a few niche perfume shops to test out their newly acquired skills.
For something less structured, you can find the right scent for you at this chic, intimate perfume shop. Only stocking bottles from high-quality and niche perfumeries (some of which they are the sole distributor in Paris), the boutique’s helpful and English-speaking staff will get a sense for your preferences before handpicking some potential matches in order to narrow them down to your “sens unique.”
There are also several niche perfumeries based here in Paris, like this brand established 30 years ago by Patricia de Nicolaï, great-granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain. With exceptional family heritage and experience, she develops her fragrances in the company’s Paris laboratory located behind their shop at 28 rue de Richelieu. These, and a range of scented products, are also available at their five other shops around the city.
Parle Moi de Parfum
Another family affair, this boutique perfumery has two shops in Paris, one in the Marais and another in Saint-Germain. After designing fragrances for haute couture brands including Dior, Chloe, Armani, and Gucci, Parfumeur Michel Almairac was encouraged by his son Benjamin to create his own perfume line. Visitors to their shops can receive an olfactive tour through the various scents by their friendly staff members.
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Written by Lily Heise for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.