Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My First Day in Paris

I arrived in Paris late on a gray morning and on the way from the airport was able to view the many chestnuts in blossom while experiencing some Parisian morning traffic jams. The apartment I’m staying is close to everything (walking distance from the Champs Elysees for one thing) is quite old and has very steep swirling staircase leading to it. There I met my boyfriend and his sister and we spent the entire day together.

After spending a couple of hours recovering from the longish trip and its various side effects (via Montreal – over all about 11-12 hours flight), which included eating fresh strawberries from the market and some baguette and trying to taste a ripened cheese with a sharp taste of cooked cauliflower, we left the apartment for the first little tour of Paris on the Champs Elysees. Our first stop was Sephora, a very short stop that is because the entrance was infested by what I could only describe as petroleum fumes. I had to leave before getting an idea of what’s in the store, but I did notice it was gigantic – almost like an entire mall of perfume and makeup! – and that there is some lighter version of KenzoAmour already out in France, that comes in a beautiful white bottle with gradually transparent edges. I left as soon as possible and immediately spotted Guerlain, which is almost the next door neighbour but decided to cross the street and have some tea at Laduree so I can recover some of my strength before the strenuous mental activity of perfume sniffing…

Laduree had the nicest muted turquoise-green entrance in a somewhat art-deco style with a butterly motif and purple accents. We sat at the bar at the back and had some of Laduree’s house-blend tea (very fragrant with roses and violets I suspect), and accompanied by some of their newest macaroons – mango & jasmine, muguet, bergamot and the violet-cassis ones. The mango and jasmine was mostly mango, with the slightest hint of jasmine and quite delicious with an almost jelly-like texture of the mango filling; the muguet tasted primarily of almonds, the bergamot was intense and impressive and the violet-cassis was a heavenly balance of floral sweetness and tart red fruits.
On the way to Laduree we spotted an Arabian Oud boutique and now was a good time to check it out. I smelled 5 types of oudh – two Indian and 3 Cambodian ouds, ranging from light and woody to smoky and animalic. My favourite was one mild Indian oudh and also another more smoky Cambodian oud. This is the first place I’ve seen that actually sells real oud as well as the oud wood chips. The shop owner was kind and knowledgeable and even let me take picture of him and the shop.

We than crossed the street and went over to Guerlain, where the walls of two story shop are stacked with shelves of perfume and eaux de cologne vats ranging from 500ml to 1 and 2 litres. On the second floor is where the exclusive perfumes reside – including Sous la Vent, which I had planned to impulsively buy on this trip and wear it in my 5 days in Paris so it would be how I remember the trip by. .. I tried it at Montreal once and was immediately smitten… I also smelled a few other perfumes there: Vetiver pour Elle, which I had hard time not buying on the spot as well (and my boyfriend loved too – he seems to be really into the vetivers I like – i.e. Sycamore and Vetiver Tonka and always comments on them). He was also smitten with white florals and I think Cruel Gardenia was his favourite. But than he’s also smitten with my gardenia plant that blooms in the middle of my living room…! I love the dry gin beginning of Sous la Vent. It is quite herbaceous and dry with only very little florals and gradually warms up into a chypre base with only the slightest hint of tonka bean. This is how I'm going to smell in the next few days...

By now it was time for dinner and we wanted to check out l’Atlas – a Morrocan restaurant at St. Germain. Unfortunately, 5pm was too early for them to be open and we had to find something else. Of course we knocked into another parfumerie on the way – Diptyque – and I got a chance to check out all the candles I was curious about (Flouve, Figue Vert, etc.) and their new eaux. I was particularly taken with the freesia soap though above all things.

We went on and had some cheese fondue in a little side street and got scratched by a friendly yet aggressive resident cat and than went home all the way through Notre-Dame and along the Sienne, going through the Louvre and Jardin de Tuilleries and than all along the Champs Elysees and Arc de Triumph.

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At May 15, 2009 2:58 PM, Anonymous Lavanya said...

Loved the post, Ayala! Could almost smell the Sous la Vent and taste the mango-jasmine macaroon!!

At May 16, 2009 11:15 PM, Anonymous trish said...

The macaroons at Laduree are simply gorgeous! I love those boxes with the lily of the valley. So sweet.


At May 17, 2009 12:27 AM, Anonymous Thierry said...

Hi Ayala,
We met at the Salons du Palais Royal...
It's a proof : you've some readers in Paris ! (at least one :-))
May I suggest for your boyfriend Sel de Vetiver by The Different Company (at Le Printemps or in the Marais district) ?
Enjoy your stay in Paris

At November 08, 2009 7:18 PM, Anonymous JulienFromDijon said...

Near the Champs Elysée, in a parralel street near Guerlain Ladurée, there is the perfumery "parfumerie de Valois" (60 rue François 1er).
A very tiny place, but where can be find some Amouage perfumes, and MDCI.

At November 08, 2009 7:54 PM, Anonymous JulienFromDijon said...

What a nice trip. I will read all you story twice : you discoverd places I never took care of.

When I go to the "le palais-royal", there is a "parfums de Nicolaï" shop in the area (28, rue de Richelieu). (to come with your own blotter strip is a good idea, they have bad ones)

To find "Jar" perfumes is not easy, the road is broad but the shop is quite tiny, remember its at number 14, nearly in front of the Patou shop (on the other side), (and there is a "frederic malle" in the area).

Another spot that is good to win time, is "le bon marché" in the "6ème arrondissement", its like "le printemps Hausmann" plus a Guerlain exclusive store, and not afar (metro : rue du bac) there are "Malle" (bd saint germain 34) and "Nicolai" (80 rue de Grenelle). And the "musée d'Orsay" in the area.
Or if you don't loose yourself, the perfumes from "les nez" (ex : manoumalia, turtle vetiver,...) can be smelled at 11 rue d'Assas, in a very tiny shop that sells mainly bed sheets.

And near the Madeleine, there is a Chanel boutique with "les exclusifs" at 21 rue faubourg Saint Honoré, juste aside the flagship store Hermès with their exclusifs too.


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