Parisian Living

Perfume in Paris: Make Your Own Workshops, Tours & Museums

by Lily Heise

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.

On left: Golden-capped bottles of perfume sit snuggly in leather pouches of different colors, next to an overflowing bouquet of roses and anemones at a Sens Unique boutique, which stocks only bottles from niche perfumeries. On right: A shopgirl gives a shy smile from the window of the Sens Unique shop, an intimate, chic destination for exclusive perfumes.
Top: Parle-Moi de Parfum / Above: Sens Unique

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. 

The Candora boutique in Paris' Marais neighborhood welcomes visitors to educational, interactive workshops, where they can create their personalized scent.
Candora

Candora Paris

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.

On left: A group of people participate in a workshop led by Candora, a niche perfumery in Paris' Marais neighborhood. They are given an overview of the perfume-making process before creating their own scent. On right: A tin of Candora perfumes features four different scents for recipients to try and to mix.
Candora

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.

On left: A little girl laughs as she learns about the perfume-making process at Candora, a perfumery in Paris' Marais neighborhood. On right: two young girls mix scents as they create their own at a workshop hosted by Paris-based perfumery Candora.
Candora

Picturesque Voyages

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.

On left: After testing four different perfumes, a participate takes down notes at a workshop run by Rendez-Vous Parfum, a Paris-based company specializing in perfume walks, workshops, and sensory events. On right: Two perfumers carefully mixing scents in the workshop of Fragonard, a family-owned Paris perfumery, which also runs the Musée du Parfum in Paris.
Rendez-Vous Parfum / Fragonard

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. 

On left: A sleek bottle of perfume sits next to tester strips, awaiting participants at a workshop run by Rendez-Vous Parfum, which specializes in perfume walks, workshops, and sensory events. On right: A woman carefully dips a tester stick into a bottle of perfume at an event hosted by Rendez-Vous Parfum, where participants can learn more about the history and creation of this luxury item.
Rendez-Vous Parfum

Rendez-Vous Parfum

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.

On left: Beautifully decorated jars of perfume sit on a counter, waiting to be tested at Sensory Unique, a shop specializing in stocking exclusive, niche perfumes in Paris. On right: A woman closes her eyes, concentrating on the smell of the perfume she samples at Sens Unique, a boutique specializing in niche perfume and finding your perfect scent.
Sens Unique

Sens Unique

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.”

On left: An elegant bottle of perfume, called "rose pivoine," lays surrounded by pink peonies and roses. It is a scent created by Nicolaï, a 30-year old perfumery founded by the great-granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain. On right: A trio of perfume, a candle, and a diffuser in the scent "Fou d'Ambre" were created by the perfumery Nicolaï, whose laboratory is located on the rue de Richelieu in Paris.
Nicolaï

Nicolaï

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

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.

Written By

Lily Heise

Lily Heise has been living in Paris for more than 10 years. When she's not getting into romantic mischief, she writes on dating, travel, and culture. Her writing has been featured in Frommer’s Guides, the Huffington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, City Secrets, DK Eyewitness Guides, and other local and international publications. She is the author of Je T'Aime, Me Neither, and Je T'Aime... Maybe? lively novelized memoirs on her romantic misadventures, and continues to share dating tips, stories and travel features on her blog www.jetaimemeneither.com. View Lily Heise's Website

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