On the top of many Paris ‘must do’ lists is ‘bring home a French perfume.’ I know it was on mine the first time I came to Paris in 2006. The tradition of fragrance making in France dates back to the Medieval period, when fragrances were used for medicinal purposes. Since then, France has maintained its reputation for creating specialty fragrances, thanks to its rare flowers and dedicated artisans found near the capital of perfumes, Grasse, in the South of France. Despite being quite a ways north of Grasse, Paris is one of the most abundant cities in the country to shop for fragrances hailing from both French and foreign lands.
We often remember events or people most strongly by the scents connected with them. So, considering the smell of a hot baguette won’t last longer than your plane ride, why not bring back a bottle of fine French perfume to always remember your trip to Paris? Plus, refilling it could mean another trip to Paris, what a shame!
Here are the top 10 fragrances to shop for and where to find them in Paris.
This celebrity perfumer made a splash in the Parisian perfume scene in the 1990s, when he created Le Male for Jean Paul Gaultier at the tender age of 26. Since then, Kurkdjian’s master nose has lead him to create some of the most well known scents on the market today, including scents for Elie Saab, Narciso Rodriguez, Giorgio Armani, Kenzo, and many more. Launching his own label in 2009, Kurkdjian offers limited edition perfumes as well as bespoke services for the real perfume passionistas. By visiting the boutique, you’re privy to a peek inside Kurkdjian’s world of scent, both lavish and intimate. His collection goes beyond perfume and candles, with lifestyle scents like laundry detergent, children’s bubbles, incense, and home sprays.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian
5, rue d’Alger, 75001 Paris
Perhaps one of the most well known Parisian perfumers, Annick Goutal’s classic bottles and old-world inspired scents are just a couple of the reasons why we love her. Upon stepping foot in any one of her eight stockists around the city, the enchanting atmosphere and olfactory delights will have you scooping up as many bottles and gift boxes as possible. Her travel-sized candles are a great gift to take home, and her perfumes are also available for purchase online, just in case your suitcase is full! Her scents are also available in limited editions at the cool East Paris multi-brand store, Merci.
14 rue de Castiglione, 75001 Paris
+33 (0)1 42 60 52 82
No perfume lover can come to Paris and not visit the Mecca to the art of fragrance, the Serge Lutens boutique in the Palais Royal. Serge Lutens gained his momentum in Paris working with Dior on their first ever beauty line in 1967, and was the favorite beauty expert of US Vogue’s editor Diana Vreeland in the 1970s. In his Palais Royal boutique, Lutens offers exclusive scents that are worth the trek, such as Iris Silver Mist, Tubéreuse Criminelle, and Louve. Opened in 1992, this shop is one of the most hidden luxury boutiques on the park. The dark violet and black interior is intriguing, as are the beautiful bottles and chic clientele roaming about within. While Lutens’ perfumes aren’t for the novice scent admirer, he established his House of Perfumes “as a unique place in the world where one would come as an enlightened being to define oneself through one’s perfume, in order to stand out from the identity-free crowd which previous times had imposed upon us.”
142 Galerie de Valois, 75001 Paris
+33 (0)1 49 27 09 09
While nowadays you can practically find Diptyque perfumes on every continent, their Paris boutique in Saint Germain is the original. You might be familiar with their most famous scents like L’Eau dans l’Ombre and Philosykos, or their unique scent 34, named after the original boutique located at 34 Boulevard Saint Germain. Diptyque started in 1961 as a ‘style bazaar’ to bring unique articles to Paris, which eventually meant bringing little known fragrances from England to France. In 1968, Diptyque created its first eau de toilette, L’Eau, inspired by the scent of the pomanders in the 16th century. Their stockists like Le Bon Marché and the beauty departments of Galeries Lafayette and Printemps also carry the full range of products you’ll find in the flagship store, but there’s nothing like experiencing a fragrance brand from the very place it was first created. They also create candles for the home, solid scents, and their newest product, the Hourglass Diffuser, which releases their delicate scents into the air over a long period of time.
34 Boulevard Saint Germain, 75006 Paris
+33 (0)1 43 26 77 44
While Penhaligon’s is a British perfumer, their Parisian shop is a must-visit for scent lovers in Paris. Located on the swanky rue Saint Honoré, the flagship boutique stocks the full range of the craft perfume brand’s scents. Penhaligon’s still creates all of their scents in England, made from the finest rare ingredients, like hand-squeezed Bergamot and jasmine, to bring to life the emotional power of scent. Creating perfumes since the late 19th century, Penhaligon’s creates over 30 unique fragrances, such as Soliflores, Sartorial, and Chypres. They even make a moustache wax!
209 Rue St Honoré, 75001 Paris
+33 (0) 149 269 166
One of the newest perfumeries to open in Paris, this multi-label boutique specializes in small production perfumes and rare scents. Before you visit their posh 2nd arrondissement boutique, take their online quiz to match your personality to one of their scents. Stocking brands like Juliette Has A Gun, Kilian, Etat Libre d’Orange, Histoire de Parfums and L’Artisan Parfumeur, this is the one-stop fragrance shop.
20 rue Bachaumont 75002, Paris
+33 1 40 26 46 03
Luxury scent maker Frederic Malle, grandson of Serge Heftler-Louiche who founded Parfums Christian Dior, was born with fragrances in his blood. His passion grew over the years, until he launched his own perfumery in 2000. Aimed at maintaining the creativity in the perfume-making process, Malle focuses on creating scents that are personal, inventive, and luxurious. His 1st arrondissement shop brings these three qualities to life, in a setting dedicated to the science and craft of perfume making. Recently, Frederic Malle published his collaborative collection of scents titled XXX by Frederic Malle, the first of which was done with designer Dries Van Noten around sandalwood.
Edition Frederic Malle
21 rue du Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris
+33 1 42 22 16 89
Le Labo fragrances were founded on the principal of bringing the art of luxury scents back into the hands of the creators. After careers in advertising, consulting and creative services for luxury perfume brands, the founding duo decided to branch out on their own. Travels to Paris, Grasse, Milan and New York gave Edouard and Fabrice the inspiration they needed to create Le Labo in 2006. Inside their Paris lab, visitors are encouraged to consult with Le Labo’s “noses” who can help expertly combine scents to fit your taste.
6 rue de Bourbon-le-Chateau, 75006 Paris
+33 (0)1 46 34 37 65
After founding L’artisan Parfumeur, Jean Laporte founded Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier in 1988 when few niche fragrance brands existed. Later, in 1997, it was Jean-Paul Millet Lage who took over the brand. Aiming to preserve the original commitment to old-world quality while maintaining modern luxury standards, Millet Lage continues to create unique luxury fragrances today. Named after the official title given to perfumers under King Louis XIV in the mid 17th century, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier specializes in both perfume and glove making. Signature scents such as Ambre Doré and Fleure de Comores Vocalise are just a couple of the unique yet classic fragrances favorited by loyals of Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier. Visit their chic 1st arrondissement boutique to be enveloped in their world of scents.
Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier
5 rue des Capucines , 75001 Paris
Jovoy is the perfect place to begin or cap off your perfume tour of Paris, as their discreet luxury boutique near Place Vendôme is a true testament to the fine art of fragrances. Owned today by Francois Henin, Jovoy was originally founded in 1923 by Blanche Arvoy. When taken over by Henin, he decided to recreate Jovoy as a temple of rare perfumes, bringing together more than 20 independent brands under one Parisian roof. Rare brands such as Nobile 1942 and the house of Rance, once the perfumer commissioned by Napoleon for his beloved Josephine, and L.T. Piver, a traditional French perfumer founded in 1774, are just a few you’ll find at Jovoy.
4 Rue de Castiglione, 75001 Paris
+33(0) 14 02 0 06 19
You can follow Lindsay on her Paris blog Girl Meets Whirl
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