Welcome to another edition of Mood Scent 4 with my perfume blogging friends, I Scent You A Day and A Bottled Rose. We’re here to scent moods and occasions and today we’ll be writing about Scents of Place. L’Esperessence is currently taking a break but we hope she’ll be back with us later in the year. I’m sure we will all be sharing quite different Scents of Place as well live in different areas but that’s half the fun.
As someone who is living in France in a seaside town after living in Auckland, New Zealand; my sense of identity has undergone a bit of a reality check. I’m a transplant into a new lifestyle and country. It’s obviously more of a culture shock moving to France than to the UK for example, the language being the main difference hitting you fairly quickly.
I have written about all of these scents before as these are the perfumes and natural scents that overtly tie the land to my French olfactive memories. These are the scents and perfumes that I will remember when I leave this country (whenever that may be). To be fair most of the scents relate to Sainte Maxime, my current hometown. It’s a small seaside town in the French Riviera, that has changed rapidly in the few years I’ve lived here. It’s become more lively and is growing bit by bit. You probably have never heard of Sainte Maxime but it’s very close to St Tropez, usually described as the poor man’s version. I’ve never lived right by the sea before and it’s been a highlight of the past few years. As I sit writing this I’m watching boats sail by on a light grey hued evening.
Fleurs d’Oranger : Serge Lutens : Perfumer : Christopher Sheldrake : 2003 : Notes : Orange blossom, tuberose, jasmine, citrus, hibiscus, caraway, white rose
The garden of the house that I most recently lived in was graced with the presence of three bitter orange trees. The scent is drop dead gorgeous when the flowers arrive. They are a temporary fixture but the anticipation as the flowers bud and then bloom is rather enticing. The blooms have such a sharp, yet exotic scent and they are my favourite memory of France, olfactorily speaking, and have a real sense of place. I’ve spent many moments inhaling the perfume from the tree and it’s one of my most loved odours.
Fleurs d’Oranger is one of my go to Lutens perfumes, Christopher Sheldrake has successfully bottled the scent of the blossoms. If the truth be told the perfume is also very much about tuberose too. However it does capture the scent of the trees and I know one sniff of this fragrance takes me back to this house. Jasmine is also in the perfume, so the royal triumvirate of white flowers is right there. Fleurs d’Oranger has a slightly dirty aspect but that’s up for debate. Some find a cumin note but I struggle to detect it (probably thankfully). All of that aside, this is really just pure spring magic to me.
Nuxe Huile Prodigeuse : Nuxe : 1982 : Fleurs d’oranger, magnolia, vanilla + 7 vegetable oils : Tsubaki, camelia, borage, hazelnut, macademia, argan, almond.
Nuxe Huile Prodigeuse is another scent that smells like France to me – well the South of France anyway. In a nutshell this smells like beach, hot sun and flowers. It’s an all over body oil and Nuxe also promote it as something you can use in your hair. Personally I don’t think that’s a good idea for the grease factor but each to their own.
The oil sinks into skin very quickly and has the power of instant revitalisation. Although it conjures the beauty of the summer months, I find it an instant mood boost in the depths of winter. The solar powers of the oil, revive and take me back to the wistful memories of Mediterranean summer seas and skies and that blue sea. The oil has a floral sunscreen scent and I wear the sun block too in the same line and the after sun cream too. All come highly recommended for that beachy, tropical flowers vibe.
Jasmina EDP : April Aromatics : Perfumer : Tanja Bochnig : 2012 : Notes : Jasmine from the South of France and India, ylang ylang, pink grapefruit
Another flower that is prominent in the South of France is jasmine. It creeps along fences and into your soul. I tend to prefer the profile of Jasmine Sambac when I sniff the raw materials over Grandiflora. But in a perfume, often jasmine can be a bit much if the truth be told, however this is not always the case. I just find it more difficult to find a jasmine to adore.
There are many jasmine fragrances that I enjoy though including A La Nuit (Serge Lutens) – fruity and deep. I also like Imperial Tea from By Kilian which as you might expect is a jasmine and tea fragrance. The one I find the simplest to wear though is Jasmina from April Aromatics. It’s very pretty, rather whimsical and non screechy while at the same time capturing the radiant luminosity of jasmine. This is a sun shiny day jasmine. Plus the range is all natural and Tanja Bochnig has perfected her craft to put April Aromatics in the top-tier of natural perfume brands.
REM EDT : Reminiscence : Robertet : 1996 : Notes : Top : Sea notes, rose, lilac, jasmine : Heart : Fenugreek, patchouli : Base : Musk, tonka bean, vanilla
I do a fair bit of walking and running by the sea. It’s a calming influence and good for the soul. Plus it gets me outdoors and away from the computer screen. The smell of salt and sea air with the occasional pungent sea odour is evocative of the South of France.
Conjuring a marine sensibility in a perfume was all the rage in the 90’s and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I now know that the perfumes I liked had a good touch of calone in them – L’Eau D’Issey and Armani’s Acqua di Gio for women etc. I loved these scents, not so much these days. In fact the Issey Miyake now smells like window cleaner to me, and no doubt it’s been reformulated numerous times now.
Typically I prefer salty scents over marine / ozonic themed perfumes. Acqua di Sale from Profumum Roma conjures a salty, herbal day on the beach. Salina from Laboratorio Olfattivo is another perfume in a similar vein that I enjoy.
However the marine fragrance that I link to the South of France is REM. Not rapid eye movement or the band but the beach perfume from Reminscence, a French jewellery brand. They also have the cult Patchouli in the collection. REM reminds me of the turquoise blue sea that I can get lost in. I like to watch the life that happens out there – the boats, paddle boarders, the bateaux vert that runs from Sainte Maxime to St Tropez and back more than once an hour. The fisherman too.
I wouldn’t say REM is the best marine perfume in existence but it’s the one that has a direct link to the South of France. This is not a coconut, sun lotion beach scent. It has that strange mix of savoury and salty and some sweetness wrapped around its bones. On a hot day, this is like gold. It soothes and heals. Did I say beach? It conjures French azure summer days like nothing I know and that hint of sun-kissed salty, most skin.
I’d love to hear about the scents and fragrances that connect you to a place. Tell me about yours!
Have a great week everyone. I’ll be at the World Perfumery Congress in Nice for a couple of days so I’ll be updating via Instagram and probably Facebook too. So pop on over for a look.
Notes : Photos : Megan In Sainte Maxime : except for jasmine from April Aromatics Instagram and REM image from Reminiscence.