Ushering in the first day of summer, (June 20th on this side of the globe), historic French perfume brand Fragonard is giving three lucky HiP Paris readers a beautiful special edition box of handmade pebble soaps. Win your very own box, by heading over to our Instagram account now. Winners will be announced on Sunday, June 28th before midnight (Paris time). Good luck, lovely readers! And more good news: For all orders over 59€, readers get 10% off!
I love thinking back to roaring-twenties Paris. The glitzy Champagne parties with members of high society swaying to soft jazz, makes me wish I could travel back in time and be a fly on the wall at the Paris Ritz’s Hemingway Bar, one of the era’s go-to spots. As western society in North America and Europe headed for golden years of peace and prosperity, it was a time when culture and travel blossomed.
Ladies and gentlemen arrived in the French capital, suited and booted and out to impress, donning the crowning accessory of any outfit: a spritz of perfume, bien sûr. But those in the know didn’t wear just any old fragrance. Their scents transported those in close vicinity to far-flung exotic lands and invigorating sun-drenched French gardens as they breathed in the wearer’s perfume.
A ubiquitous joie de vivre weaved its way through France, and all to the scent of Fragonard’s exclusive fruity parfums. Popular with members of high society on both sides of the Atlantic, the French house’s perfumes were made with delicate French flower and fruit essential oils and spices that told of twinkly Indian nights and bright spring days on the Med.
Since its beginnings, Fragonard perfumes and soaps have been synonymous with French style. And while brands have tried to copy the house’s fresh and light fragrances, its signature scents like blackcurrant-based Moment Volé (1929), jasmine-infused Rêve Indien’s (1930), or deep fruity Belle de Nuit (1946) have never been equaled. And their artisanal soaps boast that same invigorating scent, recalling the golden noon sunlight and the region’s swaying flower beds mixed with the light salty fragrance that travels in on a sea breeze.
Labors of Love
It’s fascinating how the house has stood the test of time and resisted the rising pressure to sell out. A family-owned company, Fragonard was founded by a former notary, Eugène Fuchs, who was really an entrepreneur at heart. It was an ode to the painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard, also the son of the famed parfumeur François Fragonard, originally from France’s perfume town of Grasse. And it’s right here, in this Provençal town surrounded by rolling fields of lavender, that Fuchs set up his parfumerie and factory. A century later and Fragonard is still run out of the little Medieval southern French town of Grasse, and remains one of the world’s last artisanal perfume makers.
While the town of Grasse has seen better days, the surroundings are worth exploring, especially in late June and July to see the rows of picturesque lavender fields stretch to the horizon. And make the essential top at the Fragonard factory and museum.
Housed inside a building that dates back to the 18th century, the perfume factory and museum trace the origins of perfumes to ancient civilizations. However, the nearby Musée international de la Parfumerie gives visitors a more detailed picture of the last 3,000 years. Originally used to cover unwanted smells, it became a luxury commodity during Louis XV’s reign as the king was known for his love of fragrance.
Through the Fragonard museum and into the factory are rows of vats and staff meticulously attending to the trays of orange and lavender blossoms being steamed. Their scent-bearing components are captured inside a glass cooler where their precious essential oils are collected. Wrap your head around the history behind this family’s labor of love and commitment to keeping French perfume-making alive by taking a free tour (from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday); and the best bit is that Fragonard’s gorgeous-smelling perfumes and soaps are sold at factory prices at the little onsite boutique.
- In Paris, parks have reopened and restaurants are doing takeaway– check out the restaurants doing takeout near parks!
- Read about how rose picking in Grasse, Fragonard’s hometown, has changed during COVID-19
- Follow author & explorer extraordinaire Messy Nessy around her perfect day in Paris
Written by Rooksana Hossenally 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.