Voyage à Paris

By Asali

Being slow to start writing about our recent trip to Paris, has meant that it’s now a bit difficult not to just be repeating what you already know… But wait, there was a wish from Tara, and maybe a little bit of this and that that I can add along the way, and not just feel like an imitator, but hopefully add something new to the mix as well.

Starting on this very blog only 6 months ago was a conversation to follow the last trip to Paris that Ines and I went on, individually, but none the less to meet up. I copied the exchange because it was what ignited it all; it went like this:

Suzanne; Oh boy, that could be a problem — or do they let saucy little redheads run wild and loose in Paris these days? 😉
Love you, Ines, you lucky duck!

Ines; Suzanne, of course they let redheads roam the streets of Paris.
Paris actually makes them feel quite welcome. 😀
I should get a picture of this redhead roaming the streets – one just for you (as proof of course). 😉


Suzanne; I like your response, Ines! And I would love to have a picture of you roaming the streets (especially with Asali in tow – I’ve enjoyed reading her guest posts here).

Me; <3Thanks Suzanne <3, I’ll make sure that Ines makes no mischief- without me that is 😉 About the not so lucky ducks, I plan for us to eat their livers and wash it down with champagne 😀

Suzanne; LOL! That’s a very good plan, Asali. If I’m ever in Paris, I think I’ll call you up to see if you might be available to meet me there as a tour guide. (Or at least to point the way to a good foie gras.) ❤

You can imagine that with this conversation, we had to go… And there we were 6 months later, Suzanne, Ines and I, plus a special guest star Mark, Suzanne’s husband, meeting up in the city of lights at a small but (as Suzanne aptly named it) ‘serviceable’ hotel in the old and lively Marais quarter of Paris.

Meeting Ines again was lovely, it was just like a further conversation of our mails and letters, and although this was only the second time we met, it already felt so familiar, catching on where we last left. I love meeting new people, and through our e-mails and her authoritative and deeply personal style at her perfume journal, I never doubted that I would like Suzanne very much, but I think I could never have anticipated what a magnificent time we would spend together, the four of us.  We spent almost all wake time in each other’s company, only to part shortly before passing out in our beds from sensory overload. Like Ines, I kept thinking ‘have we talked too much perfume now?’ Or a bit guilty every time we passed (on) Louvre to go and sniff perfumes.

‘Popsicle trees at Champs Elyssees for Suzanne’
It’s true that with Suzanne’s fragrant writing and sniffing skills and her generous and wise spirit I did imagine her taller, but she’s in fact rather delicate but with these strong eyes that make you at once seen and seen through, in that friendly way which makes you feel that you don’t have to explain everything, because she already knows. She had brought along her husband Mark, who not only patiently came with us to every perfume shop, but enthusiastically threw himself into full perfumista mode, with a playful and open mind, and ready to jump any fences or provide extra skin space where needed, he was a bonus to the already wonderful company. 
Also, I feel obliged to report that we did get to eat quite a few of those unlucky ducks’ livers and wash them down with a kir royale or two. One place the Kir royale was particularly interesting and was served with fig liquor instead of cassis, very memorable stuff. And since I was so lucky as to be gifted by Ines with a Croatian fig liquor I am now in the fortunate position of being able to recreate this little bit of Paris in Copenhagen.
Yes, I praised Jovoy before, and I cannot say it enough times; if you go to just one place- go there! For all the reasons already mentioned by Ines and Suzanne (and me last year), and because I’m sure afterwards you’ll have your very own Jovoy story to tell, it’s that kind of a magical space. Time stops, new spaces are created and the rest is perfume…
But perhaps you did want to hear a bit more than that? Since I last wrote about Jovoy, they got the opportunity of opening a second shop in a superb location, between the Tuillerie Gardens and the Place Vendome, a prominent position, neighbour to the most expensive hotels in Paris. This was where we went. It’s a much larger shop than the first in Rue de Danielle Casanova, with an even bigger selection, yet the shop is made to seem inviting and cosier through its crimson walls, the sofas at the back of the shop, and not least because of the very warm and welcoming spirit of M. Hénin which embraces the space. Yes, he’s a grand host; he makes everyone seem special and always has time to spare and a perfumed story to tell.
 (This one’s with Tara in mind)
It was a must to go visit Maison Guerlain at the Champs Élysées. First catching my eye, were all the gorgeous extraits. I had a serious struggle to not just pour Vol de Nuit all over me, and forget all about saving skin space, or concern for other peoples perfume space tolerance or lack of same, but since even Mark’s knees had been spoken for that day, much to a concerned bar owner, with newly reupholstered chairs‘s dismay, I restrained. The restraining exercise was due to the new and much talked about release of orientals; Les Déserts d’Orient.
As it turned out, they had only just got them in the day we arrived, which was great luck; I would have been guttered to miss them. They are really so deep and interesting, and as a literally red thread though all three runs one of my most beloved perfume notes; saffron. Merci, M. Wasser.
An incense in name ‘Encens Mythique’ is something as unusual as an aldehydic oriental, or the beautifully deep and dark rose oud; Rose Nacrée. My main attention was instantly focused on the woody dry Songe d’un Bois d’Éte though, and it was sprayed for a test drive. After Suzanne and Mark had left (to go looking for an obscure perfume wish from Undina) I had Ines ask for some help at the Guerlain make-up counter, since she seemed very interested, but equally because I had high hopes that I could rest on some very inviting sofas in the meantime. For Ines the make-up artist chose a gorgeous copper colour to match her hair, and did a pretty wonderful make up on her.

So a lot of words to get to my Guerlain point; On my last day in Paris, Ines had left the night before and Suzanne and Mark had left early that morning, so I was on my own and the weather had once again turned; it was now cold and rainy and it was sad to be alone after the days spent in such loving company. In that way I suppose the weather quite mirrored my state of mind, which is sometimes better than feeling mocked by bright sunshine on an introvert day. A lot of thought had already gone into deciding and thinking about what perfumes to potentially buy – I had suffered severe perfume stress – and I had narrowed it down, through as extensive a wearing as you can do when you go perfume sniffing. I’m just not very good at deciding which ones are truly mine, it’s like the perfumes take a bit of time to reveal their true self to me, or maybe that’s just me not asking the right questions?
Anyway, I decided to see if they would have the orientals at the Place Vendôme Guerlain shop. And not only did they have them, I also met the wonderful SA Patricia, who turned out to be exceptionally knowledgeable and helpful, chatting IFRA and lamenting discontinuations. She just knew it all, and – hold your breath – she even admitted to reading perfume blogs when she had the time!
Mostly we met truly dedicated and wonderful SAs. However, I think some were a cut above the rest. I’m happy to say that between us we must have mentioned them all. And Patricia should get on that list too. So Guerlainistas, now you know your next G-stop in Paris when it sizzles.
I’ll end with the text of G. Apollinaire, which Poulenc sat into music.

Voyage à Paris

Ah! la charmante chose
Quitter un pays morose
Pour Paris
Paris joli
Qu’un jour dût créer l’Amour.

Translates approximately into:

Going to Paris
Ah, how delightful it is

to leave a dismal place
and head for Paris!
Beautiful Paris,
which one day Love had to create!

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12 thoughts on “Voyage à Paris

  1. Olfactoria's Travels July 5, 2012 at 10:41 Reply

    Oh such a beautiful post, and ending with that poem made me really pine for Paris…Thank you, Asali! Paris is the city of love for me (perfume love though, sorry Husband). 😉

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  2. Asali July 5, 2012 at 12:54 Reply

    Thank you B. I am glad you enjoyed it, Paris is indeed *the* perfume love city, the husbands of perfumistas will just have to understand that 😀

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  3. Suzanne July 5, 2012 at 15:03 Reply

    Asali, I don't know where to begin to tell you how touching this post was to read … it made me laugh and smile and cry a bit too. (And Mark got a big smile on his face this morning when he read it … especially about the fence jumping, a joke that you and he will always share, and the remembrance of him getting the reprimand for puting his foot on that newly upholstered chair so we could smell his knees). :)The best souvenir from Paris are not the bottles I brought back but the memories of the friendship that we cemented in this most beautiful of cities. (Btw, thanks for the photo of the popsicle trees!) It was magical. ❤

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  4. Ines July 5, 2012 at 15:24 Reply

    Exactly! The city of perfume love. 🙂

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  5. Ines July 5, 2012 at 15:27 Reply

    Suzanne, I had the same reaction after reading her words. 🙂 I laughed at the fence reference and then I had completely forgotten the knee sniffing.I find the fact that friendship can be forged in such a short time a magical thing about Paris (and people you meet there who are the most responsible for the friendship part).

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  6. Suzanne July 5, 2012 at 21:38 Reply

    Ines, yes, it still blows me away to think that I met a girl from Zagreb and a girl from Copenhagen, neither of whom I'd ever met before in real life, in Paris, where we forged such a bond in only four days. And then I think of other meet-ups, too, like Vanessa, Birgit, Tara and the Candy Perfume Boy in London and I realize that the thing I call "the online perfume community" has expanded to become a real community … an impressively international one, while still being warm and tight-knit in so many ways. 🙂

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  7. Asali July 5, 2012 at 22:50 Reply

    Dear Suzanne and Ines, I'm glad I still had something to contribute in terms of writing and that I could make you smile. Your comments are heartwarming<3 And how right you are about the meet ups and our on-line community reaching into our real lives, Suzanne, the best of both worlds.

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  8. tara July 6, 2012 at 12:34 Reply

    Thank you so much Asali for granting my Guerlain wish! I loved reading about your experience at both their stores. I'm glad you got to experience those new orientals, they sound gorgeous – I adore saffron too. (I also take an age to decide on a full bottle purchase).It's so wonderful that the 3 of you got to meet up in the perfume capital of the world. Someone told Vanessa that her perfume relationships aren't real and she said "but I actually meet these people!".

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  9. Asali July 6, 2012 at 14:05 Reply

    It was my pleasure, Tara. I thought you might like saffron being a big Cuir de Lancome fan, and since I know you like rose too, you should be careful, it's my guess that you have two big contenders waiting for you in that Oriental Desert line;-)You got me thinking that times are changing on that front too, and it will probably just take a little while for people to adjust to the fact that this is how people meet today. Of course there will still be 'real life' friends too, but just like internet dating is beating old fashioned 'meeting at the bar/ workplace' etc, this might just be the new way of meeting friends?

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  10. tara July 6, 2012 at 14:48 Reply

    Totally agree. It's great to meet up "in real life" too but who's to say that our online relationships aren't valid too? I get just as much from you guys in our online community. Hopefully people will catch up to that idea. I don't think there are plans for that Orientals line to come to London, so I'm safe – for now!

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  11. Ines July 8, 2012 at 12:08 Reply

    Asali, now that you said it, I really believe it to be true.Times change, the world has truly become a global village and friends no longer come in actual physical environment but that doesn't make them any less important or unreal.

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  12. Ines July 8, 2012 at 12:12 Reply

    Tara, I think you are really lucky living in London (or near, now that I said it, I realize I might not be correct) 🙂 and you are at the meeting place of many perfumistas and events so you get to meet many in real life (much like Denyse in Paris).

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