Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies invited me to join her and pals for an April trip to Paris a while ago. I thought I had better give it a miss considering I had booked a big holdaiy for July. Then last Wednesday I had one of those “life is short” moments and got on to fellow frag fanatic Lisa, to see if I could travel with her for the weekend. (Look out for her write-up on I Scent You A Day).
On Friday we boarded the Eurostar at St. Pancras.
‘I Want My Time With You’ – Tracey Emin’s new pro-EU artwork.
On arrival at the Gare du Nord, we headed straight for the Metro.
Photo credit: Lisa Jones
Lisa was staying at a hotel in the Latin Quarter while I was sleeping on the sofabed at Portia’s Airbnb, conveniently located in Les Halles. Before we met the others we found time to visit a huge French pharmacy. These places are full of amazing skincare that is often cheaper than back home. My usual Nuxe lip balm costs £9.50 but I got a couple here for 6.99 euro each.
Lisa at Pharmacie Monge
When I arrived at the apartment, Scott was sorting through his precious scent strips from their trip to The Osmotheque the day before. He kindly let me sniff the recreated Iris Gris.
That evening we walked past the amazing Pompidou Centre on our way to dinner in the very cool Marais district.
The next morning we had croissants by the pond in the Tuileries gardens. Portia harassed the ducks and we messed about in front of The Louvre.
Portia, Anna-Maria and me
Then we made our way to the Jardin du Palais-Royal to meet up with the others (14 in total) for a 10am appointment at Serge Lutens.
Jardin du Palais-Royal
Tim and Lisa, with Margo in the background being fabulous (as per).
A Portia Photobomb
We went up the hallowed spiral staircase where few mortals are allowed to go.
Each of the three tables had 4 different bell jars – and macarons!
After an introduction about Serge Lutens – the man himself – the staff passed around paper strips dipped into each of the twelve fragrances in turn. With strips in hand, they then read some corresponding background information about them.
The bell jars included Santal de Mysore (spiced), Miel de Bois (happily urine-free), Iris Silver Mist (bliss), Borneo 1834 (yum), Cuir Mauresque (greasy leather – in a good way), Chene (great), Un Bois Sepia (ugh), Fumerie Turque (very popular with the room), La Myrrhe (classy) and Rose de Nuit (own it).
Afterwards, we were able to request others. I asked to try Une Voix Noire (which I thought I might buy) and De Profundis on skin along with Iris Silver Mist.
Une Voix Noire turned out to be a transparent, almost honeyed, white floral. It was rather lovely but because it wasn’t the smoky gardenia I’d expected, it threw me. I reckoned it was too much of a risk to purchase on the spot (I need a decant first).
The Cool Kids Table
The one I decided to buy was Iris Silver Mist because I’m trash for iris and it isn’t as carrot-y or metallic as it used to be. When I thanked one of the SAs on my way downstairs and told her I was buying ISM, she told me it was currently available as a 30ml travel atomiser with a 30ml refill. At 120 euro for a total of 60ml (which I can spray!) compared to 190 euro for the 75ml bell jar, this was a result.
Just about everyone came away with something. In Portia’s case, three somethings – La Myrrhe, Chene and Chypre Rouge.
Below left is the box and then below right is the black travel atomiser full of ISM, with the refill alongside it. I’ve worn it every day since and adore it. Anna-Maria bought the same and accidentally but brilliantly renamed it Irish Silver Mist 🙂
After lunch, we stopped off at Dior on our way to Jovoy. None of the swath of new perfumes in La Collection grabbed me but it’s great they do 40ml bottles now. Apparently Mitzah is released as a limited run each year, but only available in Paris.
Jovoy is a large store stocking a lot of luxury niche brands. I tried Niral by Neela Vermeire Creations and a couple of the fragrances by Anatole Lebreton. I wanted to love Grimoire because of its wonderful name but sadly, did not. (You can read about my visit to the new London branch here).
A few of us wanted to visit the Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre so we left the others to it.
That tiny baby – bottom right – squealed and scared Portia out of her skin. Hahaha.
Before heading back to the apartment we made a visit to Divine Perfumes. Apparently L’Homme Sage went down well.
We spent the evening at a very nice restaurant where I tried my first oyster.
The Last Supper
This fantastic group of perfume people made me feel included even though I was piggybacking on their trip at the last minute.
Lisa and I headed for the Eurostar home the next morning so it was essentially only one full day in Paris but wow, what a day.
Huge thanks to everyone involved for making it so special.