Perfume & Paris – Part II (& special drawing)


Where’s all the ice in Paris?  Every glass of water or Coke I had, whether in a cafe or at my family’s house, came without ice. Is that a cultural thing? I’m so used to dispensing my mondo-size water container up to the top with ice, then squeezing in some water on top of it, that this complete lack of ice strikes me as being… well, a little disconcerting.  Lack of freezer space?  Just prefer things at room (ack!) temperature?  Are Americans ice-obsessed?   And the water situation is also perplexing.  You don’t just get a glass of water. You have to order a drink of some kind in a restaurant, and they there’s a law that says they have to give you a glass of water if you ask for it.  A law — for a glass of water. Huh?  These are the oddities I found that keep me up at night.

Not sure what day we are at, but it was Friday, I do know that. We headed to Bon Marche to see what all they had in stock.  After a lengthy delay in the hat/scarves/gloves department and the purchase of a cunning little hat and gloves, we did get to fragrances. They had a few things that I can’t get here, like Vivienne Westwood’s newest, Let it Rock, which I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t spent any time with yet, but it doesn’t smell like the normal fruity floral, though it nods at that formula with top notes of bergamot and freesia, a jasmine heart, and dry down to a base of amber and patchouli.  It doesn’t spend very long in the top notes, and then it is quite well made. I need to spend more time with it.

We also found a new line called Memo.  In short — Lalibela is rose, peony and jasmine; Siwa is a floral vanilla; Sundance, if I understood the French correctly, was actually made at Sundance Film Festival or because of it… not sure, but it’s a tuberose baby; Inle is osmanthus and tea.  Robin covered them here, so I won’t go into more detail, but they are all very nice.  Again, haven’t spent any time with them other than a quick spritz. The one scent they did in a candle that I wish they’d do in a perfume is St. Moritz Fizz — wood fire and hot incense.  Yum!!!!

Oh, yeah, missed this for one day, we did run across the two new Lubins, Vetiver and L’eau Neuve.  Again, no time with either one, but they are released and I assume will be showing up at the usual places in the next couple of months. 

After some other meandering that day, we met up with carmencanada (Denyse) at the Westin.  She is everything you imagine her to be. Smart, beautiful, witty, full of great stories, just a delightful companion to catch up with.  Diane met up with an old friend of hers there as well, and they headed off to dinner, and Denyse and I went off to get into trouble.  We checked back in at Annick Goutal to sniff those new incense ones and to pick up something March wanted, and I tried again for a sample of them, and no go.  Since it was close, we headed over to Patou and the monclins.  Now, the perfectly groomed, elegant woman in charge was doing something else, and after a conversation that I did not understand in the least, Denyse motioned me upstairs.  I was thinking we’d have an escort, but no… we were on our own!  She let us go play in the upstairs part of Patou, where all the essences are kept.  Sniffing nirvana as we prowled through hundreds of bottles, sniffing and dipping and wrapping to take home.  Sometimes you just get very lucky, and that was just an utter delight, kids left alone in the perfume store.

After bidding Denyse good night, I headed off for my family’s house for dinner. You know what Saturdays are good for?  That’s right, y’all, absolutely nothing.  That’s how I spent my Saturday.  Diane was with her friend for the day, and I curled up with a book and a nap, napping off and on all day long with some grapes and sparkling water.  I’d been living on about 5-6 hours of sleep each night, or less, so that much sleep was very welcome.

Sunday is family day in France, and it was my cousin Caroline’s 38th birthday. Big lunch, dessert, I think we were eating for about four hours, it was perfect. But what’s a day without some shopping? So we decided to make a run down to Sephora on Champs-Elysees since it’s open 24 hours a day.  What a crowded, noisy place that was, I thought my head was going to pop off.  We were trying to hunt down the Etat Libre Noel Au Balcon that only they will have for the holidays.  After lots of looking, we finally asked, and they found one bottle, which we promptly snagged, along with some wrinkle formulas, and then we just escaped, whew!!!

Monday was mop-up shopping, getting all of our Serge bottles, going to Caron and Guerlain, but first we met up with Daniel (stop lurking!), who lives in France, but not Paris, and went to Guerlain and the Osmoteque with us. Daniel is just very, very cool. Fun, funny, full of life, irreverent, just a treat to get to know.

Now… Guerlain.  Francoise has been the person who has taken care of me through e-mail forever, and she is simply the very best.  Kind, gracious. charming, generous with extras.  This was my first time to meet her in person, so it was a treat. She was busy showing the new Candide Effluve reissue (just in that day!) to a collector, so we made like the rude Americans at least two of us are and collapsed in the middle of their floor and chatted. They finally moved us back into a room that wasn’t quite in the middle of everything.  For those of you that don’t know, if you order direct from Guerlain, they have a frequent buyers rewards program. Now, for ordering just one or two bottles, it’s not worth doing, the shipping is a killer, but for what I order, it’s worth it to get everything from them. Just file that away, and if you ever need anything, ask for Francoise, she’s a true gem.

About the only thing new there that we hadn’t sniffed before was Candide Effluve.  Now, I’m a little confused about that particular bottle. I think that one was the original bottle with the reissue in it, and I believe all of the reissues, which are very limited in number, will have the same old bottle from the Guerlain vault.   When I first put it on, I really didn’t care for it. Too powdery. But the longer it was on, the better it got, and the drydown was just stunning… rich and smoky vanilla perfect.  But… it’s not exactly the same.  I didn’t get the new bottle since I managed to get my hands on a partial bottle of the vintage.  I don’t have the new one in front of me, but the open on each are completely different. The new one was way more powdery, and the vintage seems to have a little bergamot in the open or some ylang, something brighter, which pops out before the drydown starts. Once it gets to the drydown, about an hour in, the new version and the old seem to merge and become the same perfume, or close enough.  Regardless, either are worth having.  $3500 for the new one?  I dunno. It is a piece of history because it’s the original bottle, but I’m going to hope that eventually they’ll do the reissue in some other bottle. Vain hope, maybe, but one I’m happy to nurture.

That brings us to the end of our shopping journey because the next day was the Osmoteque out in Versailles.  Mike set all this up for us and drove us there.  Mike also has one of the most extensive Guerlain vintage collections I’m aware of, outside of the Guerlain family.  This was a 3-hour session with the Director of the Osmoteque, Jean Kerleo.  He was the nose for Patou for many years and creator of one of my favorite scents, Patou 1000, for which I should have kissed him, but he seemed a little reserved.  We were able to pick 20 scents from a list of the scents they have to be able to dip and sniff.  What they have done is found the original perfumes and often the original formulas. They preserve the originals in a vault so they cannot degrade further, and then they recreate the scent from the fomulas and chemical analysis they have.  Because they don’t sell anything they create, they can use the actual ingredients that originally went into the perfume. We went through each of the 20 scents, sometimes veering off into another direction, and half of it was in French and half in English as Monsieur Kerleo was fluent in both. He is a treasure trove of information about perfume history and composition, and I could have happily spent days out there just listening to him.  He is also one of the kindest people you could hope to meet.

 On our list was some vintage perfumes we already knew – which was helpful to make sure that what we’ve gotten elsewhere is true to the original formula – but many we did not know, like Guerlain Kadine, Fath Iris Gris, etc.  The cost of a private audience, we had been told, was 150 euros per person, which is pretty pricy, but well worth it, but at the end it turned out to be 150 for the entire group.  I let you know that since there was some confusion about price, and I’m still not confident of which price it was. I just know what we paid. Regardless, the 150 per person would have been well spent just to sniff the Iris Gris and the Kadine and Houbigant Fougere Royal and Guerlain’s Jardin de Mon Curie.  Plus sniffing Firmenich’s captive molecule, which is hard to describe, as is Engenol. As I said, we meandered all over the place, and Mr. Kerleo would bring out anything for us to sniff if it came up in the conversation.  The prize that was worth the entire trip to smell was Fath Iris Gris.  Legendary among perfumistas, they halted production when Fath was bought out because it was too expensive to make. If you love Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, you would adore Iris Gris.  Instead of the slightly spicy drydown in ISM, there’s peach and something else.  It breaks my heart to think that this absolutely gorgeous iris scent is no longer in the world, it’s surpassed all my iris scents and gone to the top of the list, it’s just that beautiful. My scent strip is fading, which is so sad… except that Diane scored a bottle before we left that she’s splitting with me. And it’s great that we smelled the correct forumula to be sure that that bottle was perfect, and it is.

 If you ever have the opportunity to go to the Osmoteque, whether for their standard or small party tours or if you can spring for the private session with the director, just do it — first choice should be private session with the director. It was an experience I will never forget.

I won’t forget Paris either.  March gave me good advice before I left — make sure that I took some time to just sit and experience and enjoy, and I did that here and there.  Paris absorbs you after a while. Yes, the people won’t smile at you in the street, but they will take you under their wing and into their heart when you talk to them, first in broken French and then in broken English with (hi, Diane!) lots of pantomiming.  They seem to be more gracious and kind to strangers than I expected, and I didn’t really feel any of the talked about French snootiness, even on the days when I causualed out in my KU (go KU football — 10-0, yeah, baby!!!) hoodie.  But they also seem to worry more — maybe because they don’t have space for more than a day’s worth of groceries. The lack of a well-stocked freezer and big bags of groceries and shopping that lasts for weeks at a time would worry me too.  As with all old cities, there is a history that surrounds them, humanity living in a time and place where so many have lived for hundreds of years.  You can almost see the ghosts as you sit and watch.  Like the iceberg on top, what you think you see is not all there is.  Much of Paris is too big, too crowded for me to be there for very long, but it is charming and completely unique in the world.  I can’t wait to go back next May, there’s still a lot of the city to explore.

Now, for sitting through my travelogue, I have a very special drawing today.  Yes, that’s right, a sample of Iris Gris and Candide Effluve vintage.  Just drop a comment, and I’ll draw next week — maybe even for two winners.

  • Mikeperez23 says:

    I feel like I’ve been to Paris and back – wonderful stories!

    Would love a chance to win the draw – thanks!


  • Allie says:

    Oh, Paris…the Osmotheque is on my list for my nest trip for sure. Please enter in drawing id not too late.

  • Lavanya says:

    Great hearing about your trip..

    If its not too late could you enter me in the drawing too..

  • clare says:

    Please enter me in the drawing also if it is not too late. Thank you!

  • Veronica says:

    Hi there! Please enter me in the drawing if it’s not too late. Thanks!

  • linda says:

    I loved reading your adventures in Paris. It must have been fun sampling the many different scents. I had a friend who went to Paris and didn’t buy perfume. I think that is just a sin.
    Please enter me in your drawing. I look forward to reading more.

  • Gina says:

    I somehow missed this post! It’s just amazing – your trip sounds so incredible, Patty. Thanks for letting us in on all your adventures in sniffing. I felt like I was with you guys! I’d love to be entered in the drawing if iy’s not too late.

  • cjj88 says:

    Sounds like a splendid time Patty….I’ve never been to Paris and an living vicariously through you:) Please enter me into the drawing…thanks.


  • Denise says:

    Your trip sounds wonderful and unforgettable. I’ve always wanted to go to Rome , but now paris is on the top of my list. Please enter me also in your drawings. I love Iris in all form and would die to smell the best of the best!

  • Cheezwiz says:

    Hi Patty, Welcome back!

    Glad you had such a wonderful time perfume sniffin’ in Paris. I was just there in August and thought it was magical. I hope to get back there again.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the people too. Parisians have a reserved exterior, but if you make a sincere effort to communicate in French, and inquire about local food/culture they melt like gooey marshmallows! Before visiting France I was surprised to discover that many French view North Americans as very rude and snooty because we often fail to greet store/cafe employees upon entering a business. So its all a matter of perception!

    P.S. Pleeease enter me in your drawing! I would die to smell the Iris Gris! :d

  • SteveH says:

    What a fabulous account of a beautiful trip. I miss my time in Paris/France. Yes, they tend to do the sans ice thing. Nevertheless, a great place (except for the 9$US glasses of orange juice!).

    Please enter me in the drawing as well.

  • minette says:

    thanks for that… i feel more french than ever. i never miss ice, and i tend to shop for fresh food daily or every other day – only keeping a few canned goods in reserve. i think i’m subconsciously preparing to live there.

    hope you got to notice and enjoy the light on the windows and river seine – there’s nothing like it.

  • Theresa says:

    The whole trip sounds amazing, but I would have especially loved to go to the osmotheque. Please enter me in the drawing!!

  • annie says:

    :”>OMGOMGOMG…..LOOOOOOVE reading about all of your wonderful experiences…..pure heaven……BUT,you needed to find a way to be ‘accidently’ locked in at Patou…..swoon….please enter me in the drawing….again,…swoon….totally luv’ all ‘youse’ guys!!

  • pantera lilly says:

    Oh my, I have been following your lovely Paris adventure every day, I am living vicariously through you at this point. I can almost envision all the sights and sounds! Thanks for taking out the time to let us all know the wonders of Paris, I would love to go there one day. Please put me into your drawing for the Iris Gris if I’m not too late. Thanks again.

  • Dusan says:

    Lovely one, your travelogue is a great point of (perfume) reference for anyone who’s planning to go to Paris. My relatives who have been living in Paris for 30 years have asked me several times to come stay with them for some time, so I just might take them up on their offer – wouldn’t it be fab if we met up next May, I’d love to see you in person and give you a great bear hug >:d

  • Donna says:

    Hi Patty:
    I was thinking as I read, that this was one of the best travel commentaries I had ever read – and then I get to the bottom and find that we are to be rewarded for reading your most enjoyable descriptions! I am so glad you had such a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing your experiences with your envious readers. And please include me in your very generous draw.

  • Lucy says:


    Occasional commenter here . . . I have had similar ice experiences just about everywhere I have traveled outside the US! We Americans *will* chill our drinks and crunch our ice! Love the stuff. Almost as much as scent. Almost.

    Am loving the travelogue, and as always, the blog. If it is not too late, may I be entered in the drawing? Thanks!

  • JenniferR says:

    (Late to the party, as usual …) O, Patty! I have been in part wandering through a waking dream these past few weeks, imagining you and Diane in Paris, and then wandering more closely with this post and last week’s. Like other posters, I was not much aware of the worlds of perfume when I was visiting Paris, too long ago now. Some day I’ll return with my new nose … In the meantime, thanks so much for your lovely evocative graceful generous posts.
    And for the astonishing drawing. Enter me too, please!

  • rosarita says:

    Your post read like the best kind of travelogue, the kind that makes you feel as though you’re there. Thanks so much and welcome home!

  • Amarie says:

    Thank-you Patty for such a great post. The Osmoteque sounds like a vintage lover’s perfume heaven. Please enter me for the draw….how you can bear to part with even a drop! Generous heart:x

  • parisa says:

    Your trip sounds very entertaining. I hope to travel to Italy and Paris this summer and I will need all your tips for shops to visit:)

    Please enter me in the draw as I still haven’t made it to a local Guerlain boutique to see what’s new.

  • Elizabeth says:

    No, Europeans are definitely not as big on ice as Americans are! I spent some time in Germany as an exchange student, and I don’t recall any member of my host family putting ice in any beverage. They did, however, have a nifty little machine that could turn tap water into carbonated water – I still want one of those!

    When I went to Paris seven years ago, I knew little about perfume and cared less. When I think now of how close I was to the Guerlain boutique….sigh. I’m still hoping that Voilette de Madame will make an appearance at Bergdorf’s one day – in a somewhat-affordable bee bottle!

  • Robin says:

    LOL — I’m with Billy on the moratorium. Now I’d be afraid to try it — it would be the same let down as Nombre Noir.

  • rachael says:

    It sounds like you’re making the most of your trip.
    Include me in this very special draw!!

  • KarenG says:

    I’ve so enjoyed reading about your trip to Paris. One day I’ll get there! Please include me in this VERY special draw. Cheers!

  • denise l. says:

    What an amazing trip…I’m currently saving up to go back to Paris, hopefully next year. I’m even listening to those French tapes for travelers in the car on the way to work and back…

    And being left alone in Patou! *swoons*

    (Enter me in the drawing, please!)

  • Teri says:

    Oh please do enter me in your drawing! I’d love to try either/both of those fragrances.

    One of my most enduring memories along the lines of cultural differences occurred during my first trip to what was then Yugoslavia, back in the ’80s. When our party was met at the airport, our hosts were curt, unsmiling and had very little to say. We were all thinking this would be a very long 10 days indeed. But as soon as we arrived at their homes (we were put up in private homes), it was as though Dr. Jekyll had emerged from Mr. Hyde. These folks were warm, friendly, full of smiles and jokes, perfect genial hosts. I puzzled over this awhile until it hit me — we were Americans in a Communist country. No doubt many pairs of tattling eyes were on us and our hosts when we arrived at the airport. It would have been dangerous for these people to appear pleased to see us, or to appear overly curious about us. Once we were behind closed doors, they were free to be the wonderful people they really were without fear of recrimination.

    That experience taught me a valuable lesson about cultural differences — stand back and assess the situation before forming an impression.

    • Dusan says:

      Teri, I am from a former Yugoslav republic, Serbia (Belgrade). Back in the 80s I was just a kid so don’t remember the communist xenophobia but that we are a friendly and warm bunch is definitely true ;;)
      Where exactly did you spend the 10 days?

      • Teri says:

        Sorry to be so late getting back to you, Dusan, but I just now noticed your question.

        On our first visit to the area, my husband and I took our mothers to visit Medjugorje with a group from our church. We fell in love with the people and the country and went back several years later. On our second trip, we visited Sarajevo and Zagreb.
        Both were wonderful, memorable experiences.

  • sariah says:

    Hi Patty – I’ve heard about those whole afternoon long French family dinners. Sounds wonderful, but I wonder how does the lady (or man) of the house manage? Your description of the Osmo makes me want to go there so much, more than anything else I’ve read about it – thanks! Please put my name in for the draw.

  • Liz says:

    awesome post!! please include me in the drawing!

  • Carol says:

    This might pertain to your Paris Part #1 post, but did you happen to hear anything at Chanel about Bois des Iles parfum being discontinued? They had it in stock in Chicago, just last week, but I emailed corporate to double check and got a canned response about them only being available in 6.8 edt…

  • Lena says:

    Wow, I went to Paris for the first time this spring, and reading your travelogue brings back some wonderful memories. sigh. I would love to go there in the fall when all the throngs of tourists are gone! Please enter me in the draw! I just adore everything Guerlain.

  • mimmimmim says:

    When I used to waitress, people would specifically ask for drinks without ice. (I’m in England.) I think it’s because drinks are quite pricy over here and people don’t like to think they’re paying for a glass of ice.

    I don’t know if it just applies to nightclubs, but in Britain if you ask for water you’re supposed to be given it – I think it was brought in as a law to stop clubbers getting dehydrated, but that could be my memory going wonky. I stuck to wine in Paris 😉

    Please may I be entered into the draw?

  • Christine says:

    Italy doesn’t do ice in drinks either. Thankfully I stayed with an uncle who had developed a habit for ice water so if we were in house we had our supply.

    And Paris sounds like such a marvelous trip.


    Maybe you could sooth my jealous soul by entering me in the drawing? Thanks!

  • Silvia says:

    Oh the Osmotheque…

    Please enter me in the draw, many thanks !

  • Malena says:

    i loved to read about your perfume sniffing in paris.
    please, include me in the drawing – though i don´t have any hope to win!

  • Billy says:

    There really needs to be a moratorium in the fragrance blogging world on Iris Gris! I swear, every rare review is filled with things like “best iris scent ever” and “sadly, no longer available,” that I can’t stand it! Just when I was getting over my obsession with finding a bottle! I actually found a mini bottle of it on a french auction site, e-mailed them many times, and they apparently bid on my behalf–but for the wrong bottle!!! I told them that I was not interested in Fath de Fath, but sadly, the Iris Gris had sold to someone else.

    Ah well….I can still dream about being picked for the drawing! Please enter me! Your trip sounds fantastic Patty, I hope someday to repeat it or at least imitate it!

    • Patty says:

      Sorry, sorry!!! Blame it on Luca, he started it! But the good news is, if you are ever at the Osmotheque, (have I been spelling that wrong?), you can smell it! Well worth it, as well as smelling a bunch of other things too that aren’t around anymore.

      But if you love Iris, Iris Silver Mist is really, really close, as is the MPg, I believe.

      I blame Chandler Burr for the comment that made me finally buy that damn Shiseido White Rose, which really is perfect.

  • agritty says:

    Oh my goodness – what a fabulous trip! I miss Paris so much, and with the current exchange rates I will miss it a bit longer, I am afraid. I love reading about your pilgrimage to the Osmotheque – brilliant. I would love to be entered in your drawing!

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, that exchange rate is brutal. I’m really wanting to go to London, but that exchange rate is worse. Next spring, the whole family is going to Europe, and I’m thinking of selling the house to finance the trip. 🙂

  • donanicola says:

    So glad you had a wonderful time Patty! Your descriptions are inspirational and give food for thought. I’m fascinated by the outward signs of cultural differences. I had a weekend with my mother in Lille a few weeks ago (she indulged me with some sniffing and began to enjoy herself!) and we couldn’t help noticing the distinct continental style of dressing for example – much less casual than American and most Brits. Anyway, tomorrow Paris will be two and a quarter hours away and I can’t tell you how excited I am and I know Silvia is too! In meantime please would you enter me in the draw. I’ve just discovered ISM’s beauty.

    • Patty says:

      Yes, Americans are much more casual. I did take some of my less casual clothes with me, but some days I just wanted pure comfort so I could feel like I was back in my own skin again. OH! And everyone in Paris is thin, thin, thin. I think it’s because it costs so much to live there, they can’t afford to eat. 🙂

      Are you off to Paris again? Oh, have fun!!!

      • donanicola says:

        Nothing in the diary yet but my comment about tomorrow references Eurostar moving to St Pancreas from Waterloo and being even faster!!

  • Dane says:

    What a wonderful narrative of your trip Patty!

    Smelling Iris Gris has always been a dream of mine. Apparently Iris Bleu Gris by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier was originally titled Iris Gris, but was later changed (I would hope because of the association with the original masterpiece).

    My trip to Paris was cancelled this year…so hearing about yours was almost as good as going (well…almost ).:-s

    • Patty says:

      Thanks, Dane! IG is definitely lovely and gorgeous and worthy of much sniffing, but ISM from SL really does come in pretty close to it, as do some other iris scents. But it’s pretty perfect as your iris goes.

      So sad about your trip being canceled! You need to rebook it and go. 🙂

  • March says:

    Giggling. I log on here at 9:13 and 70 comments.

    It’s definitely a cultural thing with the ice. No ice in London, either. Everything’s warm and you have to ask. The most disgusting thing I bought was a fruit smoothie — which so far as I can discern was literally blended fruit and water (?) It was room temperature.

    And then they come over here and ask: WHAT is UP with the giant cups of ice?!?!?!

    Your trip sounds amazing. Mine was total amateur-style sniffage, like Bon Marche. I didn’t do any of the hardcore stuff. Iris Gris sounds like “the Earth Moved” in terms of desirability.@};-

    • Patty says:

      no ice in the smoothie? That’s criminal. No wonder they don’t sell a lot of smoothies in Europe.

      Definitely earth moved territory. I’ll make it shake for you and Lee and Bryan as soon as I get my hands on my half. 🙂

    • Lee says:

      I reckon that was just fruit March… No water, no ice, just fruit.

      Aaah, stick around and we’ll get you loving those warm juices….

  • Divalano says:

    Hee, yes Americans are ice obsessed. And as a NYer I relate to small quarters in a vast city & only doing a day or two worth of shopping. That’s my lifestyle to a T.
    All your sniffing sounds glorious, thank you for sharing all if it with us. And yes please, enter me in the draw. Specifying “in the draw” after Lee ribbed me about the way I responded to his draw last week. *ahem*

    • Patty says:

      You know, I could probably get used to it, if I had to, but so many years on the farm with weeks’ worth of food stocked in, just in case we didn’t get to town or had a bad snowstorm is deeply ingrained in my psyche, so the sight of a teensy amount of food in a teensy kitchen just gave me hives of worry — what if there’s a storm!?

  • benvenuta says:

    *chuckle* If I drank my drinks so cold as Americans in my country do, my teeth would fall out (and they are amazed when I say that). It`s a cultural thing. Cola from the fridge is okay, I don`t need ice. I never understood that obsession with ice. Most people here believe that drinking very cold drinks when it`s cold or when you are hot after a physical activity is a sure way to a sore throat. (Another thing that made my American friends boggle.) The thing is that people here DO get sore throats from cold drinks. Perhaps American throats are different. 🙂

    • Patty says:

      We have much more hearty throats here. :d I think it’s because we’re so loud, our throats get a workout and need that much ice just to cool us off a bit.

  • Suzanne says:

    I don’t drink much soda, but the whole joy of having one is incumbent on there being lots of ice for the soda to fizz and bubble and bounce against. Interesting how we Americans love our ice. But I’d gladly do without it for a week in Paris like the fabulous one you had. The Osmoteque and Jean Kerleo? Swoon!!! I’m so glad you had such a wonderful experience, Patty.

    Oui, enter me in the drawing, s’il vous plait!

  • loverdoll says:

    Lucky,lucky Patty! So glad you got to go and do all these delicious things. Darn, I wanna go too. Perhaps someday . . . . Well enter me anyway . . . .G

  • lissakv says:

    Ohhh do enter me sil vous plait! I just made the husband SWEAR we are going to France in the next few years.

    • Patty says:

      Absolutely! YOu really have to go. I think any perfumista has to go there. It’s not that you can get much there than you can’t get anywhere else, maybe just a little later, but there’s just shops there that have been around for so long and have such history, it just feels like perfume heaven.

  • Judith says:

    What a wonderful trip! I am jealous, of course, of all the great things you smelled, but also of your opportunity to spend time with Denyse, Mike, and Diane (hi Diane, I miss corresponding with you:) Smelling Iris Gris on the strip was also the highlight of my trip to the Osmotheque–and I don’t even consider myself an iris fiend. I would die for a liquid sample, so please put me in the drawing!

  • Pam says:

    Hi, Patty!

    What fun it was to read your Paris posts. Lucky girl, you. I’m thrilled for you that you were able to make the trip. Meeting Jean Kerleo must have been fabulous, as I also love his 1000. Do you know if he’s the creator of Lauder’s Knowing? I’ve read that he did it, but then someone else claims Henry Fremont is the nose of Knowing.

    I have to aks—how’s the Latin coming?

    Yes, pls put me in the drawing. And thanks for posting your Paris adventures.@};-

    • Patty says:

      I don’t know if he did Knowing. He didn’t really say, but the guy that made 1000 will always be aces!

      My Latin has been suffering while I was gone and now catching up. I’m hoping this weekend I can catch up with my studies because I really enjoy learning it, it’s been incredibly helpful just in studying French or Italian.

  • Xnyorkr says:

    Is Osmoteque a shop? Can you just “go” there? I will be in Versailles in a few months.

    • Patty says:

      No, it’s not a shop. It also has an educational part to it, they train perfumers there. It’s best to call ahead and find out what is available. They have regular sessions on a pre-determined topic, or you can pay for a privite session with the director. But definitely put it on your trip itinerary for one or the other.

  • Lucy says:

    Loved reading this, it’s like being there too, for a little while…
    Visiting Paris with perfume in mind makes a whole different experience, and it seems like it got you deeper into the culture and place.
    I hope you post again about more of your experience there…

    • Patty says:

      I think the best thing about travel is being open to where you are. When we went to Italy, we just gave ourselves over to the Italian culture and had a blast. They are very different from the French, seem more open to being goofs in public, laugh more easily in public. I think it’s good to not criticize a culture, just to observe it and see that what is different on the surface makes us no different inside.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Woweekeeflowee !
    Jean Kerleo…did you kiss him ?
    I wanna see the pix !
    May I join ?
    [Have you checked your mail recently ?]
    Do I have any more questions ?

    • Patty says:

      Nope, didn’t kiss him, but I sure wanted to! 🙂 I did get my mail, just have had zero time so far to sort through what you sent me, but I will, I promise!!!!


  • Louise says:

    Wow, what a magical trip! I’m going to have to savor this post throughout the day today (I’ll sneak over from my computer doodad training). You did and felt and learned so much-congratulations!

  • Divina says:

    Been waiting impatiently for this! Thank you 🙂 Please enter me in the drawing as well!

  • Anne says:

    Oh Patty, I am so happy for you. Sounds like the perfect mix of a trip – perfume, friends, family, food and adventure. Great post, thank you for sharing all the wonderful details. And please throw my name into the hat for a chance at those two vintage samps! :)>-

  • Abigail says:

    Thanks for the recap! I am hat obsessed, and yet, you did not satisfy my obsession one whit!

    I would love to be in the drawing.

    And – lounging around eating grapes sounds like a fantastic idea! If I’d gotten maybe an hour less sleep I’d be tempted to call in too-grouchy-to-work and do just that.

    • Patty says:

      Oh, sorry!!! The hats there were so damn cute, I can’t even express it. So many varieties and styles. I could have walked out with ten of them easily. Next time I go, I’m budgeting suitcase space and money for hats. Though I worried a little that if I got them, the only place I would have felt comfy wearing them would have been Paris. Paris is a hat city, most definitely! I settled on a cute little knit hat with this huge pompon on top and a metallic buckle securing the pom. IT’s adorable. Gloves were that harlequin pattern in gold and dark brown in velvet.

  • MattS says:

    Wow. What a wonderful trip! I’m more than a little jealous, but so glad you had a great time. Of course, winning the drawing would probably chase any green eyed monsters away…will you enter me in the contest, please?

    How were things at Serge Lutens?

    Again, glad you had a good time and brought back lots of memories and scents.

    • Patty says:


      I thought they were quite nice at Serge. Restrained and gracious, you just weren’t going to josh with them and get them to laughing. Actually, I found that true with most public places where you shopped, etc. Here in the U.S., it seems so easy to get a store employee to laugh with you, and I missed that quite a lot. But it didn’t make them unkind, just different. So Serge wound up surprising me that they weren’t snooty or indifferent or anything, just reserved.

  • Gail S says:


    some day…maybe…

    I would love to be entered in the drawing please:)

    But I must say, you don’t know ice obsession until you’ve lived in Texas. I was having withdrawal when I was in your neck of the woods! Must have crushed ice with everything!!!!

  • hausvonstone says:

    One of my favorite Paris memories (from last Winter) is sitting across from Guerlain on the Champs Elysee eating Macarons from Laduree. Christmas lights were making the street gleam, and it couldn’t have been a more delicious moment. Please enter me in the drawing! Merci…

  • Lee says:

    I loved this post P – both for the perfume talk (Effluve! Iris Gris!) and the way you capture the different cultural and social rhythms of another way of living. I think Britain falls somewhere between the States and the rest of Europe – would love to know what you think when you make it here…

    The ice thing – it’s all of northern Europe I think. If you go to Spain or southern Italy (or even southern France), you’re likely to come close to the ice equivalent of north America. The only place where you’ll find ice like that all the time in this part of the world is at the cinema… In the summer, you’ll get ice, but maybe only a few cubes (even in Hotel Costes…). For some reason, we have very limited interest in the ice dispensers that are ubiquitous in American kitchens and cafes. I’d love one, but can’t imagine a fridge freezer dominating my kitchen that way. Different mindset I guess. Push us on it though, and we’ll go on about climate change and carbon footprint (post priori, but hey!):-”

    I’m wondering about what you mean by worrying more… And I love living with the ghosts of the past – something I’d really miss if I moved somewhere new…

    Love you P!
    Small fridge Lee


    • Patty says:

      I do think it’s a lot of what you grew up with. Here we seem to be much more into doing things big because we have more space, except in the larger cities that are piling on top of each other. Homes that sprawl, kitchens large enough that even that subzero monstrosity is dwarfed by the large island in the middle of the kitchen with bar chairs around it.

      Worry more. I think I mean that the culture here, in America, is very much carefree, in comparison. Not that we don’t have worries, but we are more like young children who ignore our worries and plunge on in. There is a outer joy that I experience everywhere here in public — people that laugh too loud in restaurants, talk too loud — that I just didn’t see in Paris. Other parts of Europe, I’m sure, have variations.

      So I think it’s what we show on the outside because I suspect most people are pretty much alike inside everywhere. Joyful exuberance is what Americans wear everywhere, and Europeans seem much more restrained until you get them inside within the confines of their family/friends. The outwards appearance seems to be they worry more about being seen as foolish in public, where most Americans really don’t care how stupid they appear. It’s part of our charm. 🙂

      • Lee says:

        It sure is, hon! I think Europeans tend to be nihilists who occasionally laugh about that fact, and Americans tend to be laughers who get occasionally nihilistic about that fact… very BROAD generalisation that needs some hefty salt pinches with it…

        Y’know, when my buddy Jazmin moved back to the States, her family would worry so much about her relationship with her Brit husband. You know why? She’d lived here for a long time and they took her quiet talk-style with DH for ‘just about managing to hold down the anger’ arguing…

        Two nations divided by a common language and all that…

        She still is an ice fiend though.:d And I laugh loud enough to be heard in several counties, American or British in size…

        • Patty says:

          That sounds about right, and that seems to be a lot of the exteriors. I don’t really detect that humans everywhere are very different on the internals. Maybe it’s space, that the more closed in you get, the more closed in you get. I think we can all use with some cross-cultural pollination — y’all need to get more foolish, and we need to hold some of our stupidity a little closer to the vest.

          You Brits tend to be the exception on the loud and laughing part, but I don’t really think of y’all being part of Europe exactly, more like an American outpost in Europe — well, the other way ’round if you’d like. 🙂

          We had some interesting discussions about language while there. We heard many times that the French think Brits and Americans speaking French is beautiful, because we lilt when we talk, trilling up and down, while I thought my butchery of French was pretty complete. French tends to be done with the tongue in the lower half of the mouth, behind the bottom teeth, so a native French speaker does French more in a monotone, and then they think their English sounds terrible in that same monotone. It was a pretty interesting discussion.

          • Lee says:

            I’m not going to reply any more cos I could go on forever, and as my Ma always said, ‘It might be a nice seaside town, but not everyone wants to visit Wittering.’

      • Kelly says:

        This is so interesting and a subject I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. While in Ukraine my friends told me I looked “very American”. I couldn’t understand it, because I didn’t think I looked any different than the throngs of people on the street. They even asked “can’t you tell when someone is not American?” I wish I had taken a picture of the line at customs in Atlanta to describe “Americans”. I asked about it a lot… “what makes me look American?” They always answered with the same upward sweeping motion of their hands “it’s in your face”. I was warned against speaking out loud or laughing out loud on the metro – it’s considered rude… so I was very reserved everywhere I went. And yet, even the woman begging at St. Catherine’s knew that I was American when I walked past and begged in ENGLISH! And still, back at the apartment cutting up with some of my teenaged friends, one said “Kelly is fun. She’s like a Ukrainian, not an American!” I asked what Americans are “like” and the best pantomime I could get is that they think we’re snooty! 😮

        • Patty says:

          Yeah, I could spend a year on this subject alone because the cultures are very different. The scam artists had us picked out as Americans as well. I don’t know what it is exactly, but we do have a distinct style.

          I think that Americans are closed in different ways. While we are louder in public, I don’t know that we are friendlier to people we don’t know or seem a lot different from us, including when we are in THEIR country. I suspect that’s where that snooty comment came from. We seem to have a fear of the foreign because we become very isolated in a great big country of only having to worry about “those Californians” moving into our pleasant little communities and driving up the real estate prices. 🙂

          Europeans are just less insulated, having cultures on all sides of them with different languages, traditions, etc., and I think they just feel much more at home with differences.

  • Bonnie says:

    What a lovely tour you had!Thank you for a great description seen from an American point of view.
    No, here in Denmark ice is only included when you visit McDonald’s!-or else you pay for water!!!But filling up freezers-sure we do.
    This is my first post here, though I’m a regular reader, but I hope I can enter the drawing. Iris..just love ISM.

    • Patty says:

      I was thinking in Paris it was different because everyone seems to live in teeny apartments. I’m used to having two deep freezes full of frozen meats and things, plus my fridge. I think it’s what you get used to. 🙂

  • Maria says:

    Patty, I squealed when I read you bought a “cunning little hat and gloves.” Oooooh! Your experience at the Osmotheque sounds like a dream come true. But you’re awfully silent about Caron, the temple. I gather it was not a transcendental experience? :((

    Ice is a U.S. thing. In Europe they don’t do ice, and in England they drink beer at room temperature. You can actually taste it better that way.

    Please put me in the drawing. I looove Iris Silver Mist and would love to try Iris Gris.

    • Lee says:

      Only some beer, and actually at cellar temperature (a few degrees cooler than room temp). I tell you, don’t wrinkle your brow about this (except you P – that cream is working wonders!) until you’ve had a pint or two of Adnam’s…. 😡 :-b

      • Maria says:

        But, Lee, I think you Brits are right about beer. After all, you make the best beer. We ought to take instruction from you about how to serve it. (Not just kissing up here.)

    • Patty says:

      Caron was actually lovely, we just didn’t spend any time there. Diane had to pee, and we had to get to Guerlain. We weren’t going to buy anything there since, with the exchange rate, it’s just so much more than getting it from NYC boutique.

      The hat and gloves are adorable. There were easily 10 hats I could have bought cheerfully, and about four more pairs of gloves. The French do a great job of accessories, much, much better than our crappy selection in Nordstrom’s of the same-old, same-old.

  • Amy K says:

    Welcome back! It sounds like you had an amazing trip.

    Please include me in the drawing 🙂

  • Rita says:

    I’m glad you ladies had a great time. You deserve it,you’ve been working so hard for all us perfume junkies lately! Osmoteque and Patou sound incredible, but with Serge, Guerlain, and Caron as well-that just makes me weak in the knees. I’m not even gonna get started on the Bois de Iles in pure parfum, let’s just say I’m =:) !!!

    Please enter me in the drawing, I would love to try Candide Effluve.

    • Patty says:

      It was weird about the BdI parfum. One Chanel boutique like two blocks away had none, didn’t think it even existed, until they called the Rue Cambon one. But they only put it out int he 1/2 ounce bottles now, which is a shame. I wanted the mondo 2 ounce bottle since I can’t buy it on ebay anymore becuase of the Polkadot patty mess, I can’t trust any vintage chanels to buy there.

  • Jennifer S. S. says:

    I wish I could have gone to Paris with you!
    Please include me in the drawing.

  • Alica says:

    I would be very happy to be included in the drawing. Thank you Patty!

  • Andy says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts; Ah… I wanna go there again, too. Your post woke up memories and a desire for Paris in spring…. and finally: Yes, you US Americans are somewhat focused when it comes to ice….

  • Anthony says:

    I genuflect in envy of your visit to Osmoteque. I’m not worthy hahaha… Totally entertaining reading as always. 🙂

  • isadoreducasse says:

    What delightful reading. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Masha says:

    Here in Germany, ice is considered unhealthy, particularly in the fall and winter, it’s just not done. It’s true, they think you’re completely clueless if you ask for it, which is very sad for us southern folk!

    • Patty says:

      That is so strange. Unhealthy. Hot day in the fields, we’d pack a huge thermos with ice and just a little water fresh from the hydrant. Lord, that was the best water I’ve ever tasted in my life.

  • First time posting, but reading for some time. I had to comment on this, beacuse I’ve enjoyed it so much. You brought much of Paris and what I missed to me. i went on the sniffa trip but got sick, came home early and saw and sniffed nothing. so this has been a fun read.
    The Fath sounds incredible, as I am just beginning to discover that I have a love of Iris.

    How nice, too, that you can be with family there.

    and yes, the ice thing is all us, we love it. I think you get used to it eventually, when i was in London, it didn’t bother me and it was quite warm then. of course London is a treasure and I couldn’t care about ice with all that 🙂

    • Patty says:

      So glad you commented, and I’ll add your blog to our blogroll, it looks like a great site!

      Okay, that seriously sucks that you had to go home and miss the trip. All of us at TPC have vowed to make it to the next sniffa since not all four of us have met yet. I should talk March and Lee and Bryan into going too! We’ll make Lee do Monty Python’esque skits about perfume addiction. 🙂

  • Tigs says:

    Ooooo, this makes me yearn for Paris. Spending four days there with a infant under one is not really ideal, I had only one afternoon for perfume, and it broke my heart that I couldn’t get an appointment at the Osmoth (I swear you need connections.) We spent most of our time in museums, which we enjoyed, but with those great historical cities, you are almost better spending your time outside, soaking in the architecture and atmosphere, I think. So wonderful to hear of your travels with those of like mind (and nose!) Please enter me in the drawing, and thanks for the thorough recap…

    • Patty says:

      Oh, dear, that sucked! I agree about being outside and absorbing. The more time you spend inside, the less of a read you get on where you are.

      Not sure how hard it is to get an appointment at the osmoteque. I suggest calling well in advance to schedule something. I think they do some regular public sessions about one thing or another.

  • Donna says:

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Please enter me in the drawing 🙂

  • yellowcedar says:

    Your trip sounds like it was absolutely delightful. Thank you for sharing your perfume adventures. Please enter me in your drawing.

  • Kelly says:

    Not that Paris and Kyiv are anything alike, but there is no ice in Ukraine either. When Alona came, she was perplexed that everything was served FULL of ice. Now she has become an ice addict… eats every last cube… and frets what she’ll do when she goes home to no ice. She doesn’t know why they don’t have ice there… “we just don’t”. I suppose if you’ve had room temperature cola your whole life ice seems a bit frivolous.

    Now… what’s this post about? Oh yeah… perfume in Paris! GASP! Alone in the upstairs at Patou? Why that’s EuroDisney!

    • Patty says:

      Send her home with some ice cube trays. 🙂 We were lucky that the apartment we were using is owned by an American, so plenty of ice cube trays laying about. Perfect.

  • Jasminka says:

    Oooh Paris sounds absolutely LOVELY and smelly (but in a good way) 😉

    I have only just discovered your wonderful site and have been reading and reading…Wow ! When do you ladies have time for anything when not blogging ?? 🙂

    I don’t know if you are accepting postings from newbies like me, however please enter me in your draw if you are ! Thank you.

    • Patty says:

      Welcome!! ABsolutely, we love new readers and commenters here. We always worry that because so many people have shared so much of their time with us that new people might think it’s a closed thing, but there’s always room for more… kind of like perfume and kids. 🙂

  • BBliss says:

    Love, love the Parisian adventure! Yes, ice is a rarity there-it eventually became a habit for me, too and I carried it back to my 100F summers – weird. And Carol, I get it – my Texan uncles used to order iced tea in cafes when they visited – you should have heard them describe Sweet-n-Low to the waiters.

    I’m crawling out from under piles of dirty clothes, dishes and diapers – I missed you guys – and of course the scents! Please do include me in your special draw!

    • Patty says:

      We’ve missed you too! It took me forever to start calling Diet Coke “Coca Light.” Huh? Do the French/Europeans just not like the diet in the name?

      Still love my ice. That’s the first thing I did when I got home, packed my water bottle with ice and filled ‘er to the brim with an ounce of water. 🙂

      • lissakv says:

        Patty, they would as “quest-ce que ce’st “diet” “un calorie” “le cholesterol?” “le AA?” ” ? Parce que, Il n’est pas Francaise to diet!
        BBliss, did you just have a baby, or a long day with kids? I can completely get that one too. Where do you hail from?

  • Janet says:

    Everything sounds wonderful. Upstairs at Patou- What great name for a perfume.
    Thanks for sharing your treasures in the drawing!

  • tmp00 says:

    Well, of course I would love to be in the draw..

    Nut I have to ask, what are the wrinkle creams? Enquiring (and wrinkled) minds want to know!

    • Patty says:

      That Strivectin stuff and… let me grab the other, which is kind of a wrinkle filler, but has some long-term permanent effects. That took a while. I started my fitness boot camp yesterday, and every muscle in my legs and arms is screaming. Weird thing is, i’m going back again today. tri-aktiline, that’s the wrinkle filler. 🙂

  • Elle says:

    Deep sigh. Am going to go to sleep tonight dreaming of getting lost in Osmotheque and upstairs at Patou. What pure heaven!

  • ReneeM says:

    Fantabulous descriptions Patty! This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to Paris! I love reading this blog as ya’ll transport me to places I’ll never go.

    Please enter me in the drawing too!

  • Camille says:

    Wonderful reading, Patty!

    When I got home from a Paris/European trip(it seems the ice thing covers all of Europe), the first thing I wanted was a tall drink filled to the brim with ice. In the Netherlands, I bought these funny little zip-loc type bags that one can make ice in–too funny. It takes forever to fill the things and even longer to get the “cubes” out of them. Apparently our love affair with ice is one of our cultural oddities!

    Your visits to Guerlain and Patou and Osmetheque sounded lovely–and that Iris Gris must be amazing stuff to have captured your heart. Would love to sniff it. 🙂

    So glad to hear that you, too, had positive people experiences in Paris and France. I am dismayed when I hear folks speak of “snooty” or rude behavior, as I have been so impressed with the graciousness and helpfulness of people when I have visited, especially in the smaller towns I’ve explored during my stays. I hope I get to visit again soon, especially now that I am more familiar with all the perfume joys Paris has to offer!

    Thanks so much for sharing your travels.

    • Patty says:

      I have to admit that I’m pretty oblivious to a lot of snootiness anyway, but I really didn’t feel any of that. I think there is a French reserve that can be taken for snootiness, but my spidey sense says it’s just reserver. We’re big, overgrown children and tend to play and do stupid stuff in public, and that’s just not very French. 🙂

  • Marsi says:

    Your trip recaps have been such a treat to read! What fun it must’ve been to finally put a face on so many names.

    Please enter me in the drawing; merci!


  • Karen says:

    Thanks so much for posting your Paris recap! It immediately brought me back to our Paris Sniffapalooza this past July. I know just what you mean about the ice, or lack thereof! My daughter ordered a 9 Euro “lemonade” at Hotel Costes, which turned out to be a small bottle of 7-Up alongside a glass with 4 (we counted them!) ice cubes and a tiny slice of lemon! Wow!

    And wasn’t Osmotheque incredible?!? It was most definitely the high point of our trip too, and our tourguide was Patricia de Nicolai, who was incredibly gracious. I still have my glassine envelopes of scent blotters, though I’m sure they’re all melding together by now.

    Paris is such a great city in which to explore scent – I can’t wait to go back!

    • Patty says:

      Oh, I’m pea green! I would have loved to have met Patricia de Nicolai, I’m a huge fan of her work, and if Guerlain had a lick of sense, they would hand her over Guerlain and pay her whatever she wanted.

  • cathy/bluechile says:

    I’ve loved reading your travelogue. I only wish that I had been into perfume when I went to Paris four years ago. I had one perfume – Shalimar – and never even considered a second one. Seems amazing to me now.

    Thank you for your generous offer to share your treasures. Please enter me in the drawing.

    • Patty says:

      Thank you, Cathy! I know there was a time when I had less than five perfumes, but it’s been so long ago, it seems like another person entirely! 🙂

  • Carol says:

    Oh my, I would love to be in the draw!

    And wonderful to read about all the interesting finds and people and scents and more! I went to Paris well before any clue about fragrance, but I will go back one day. Reading about it as I sit at my kitchen table will have to do for now.

    And I remember the ice thing too! I think it’s the same in London also? I drink iced tea like most people drink coffee and talk about frustrating. I’d order a cup of hot tea and a glass of ice to do it myself and the glass came with one or two cubes in it. Heck, at Starbucks I have to get my grande iced teas in venti cups so they can give me enough ice.

    • Patty says:

      You mos def have to go back. I think, once you’re into perfume, you probably view the city a little differently. I’m going back next year with my family, which should be a whole different trip! The running commentary from that pack of wolves could totally harsh my mellow.

  • Jenny says:

    I’m glad the trip was so wonderful! I love Paris. Actually, I was very grateful that they had to give you tap water for free, since in other European countries, they can refuse it to you (I’m looking at you, Italy!). I’m a huge water drinker and even warm tap water is better than a tiny bottle of water that costs half as much as my meal. I did miss all the ice–I love cold drinks!

    I would love to be entered in the drawing. I will have to make it to the Osmotheque next time I make it to France, which will probably be a number of years. Again, I’m very happy it was such a great visit!

    • Patty says:

      I think Italy does give you ice, though, right? I can’t remember now!

      it was a great adventure, I loved every minute of my trip and the people.