Caron Bellodgia & Fleurs de Rocaille

Painting – Caravaggio’s Narcissus

Figuring out what to write about in a post is a bit like planning meals – I don’t mind the actual writing, but coming up with the what-to-write-about bit sometimes puts me in a whirling mental kerfuffle. It’s relatively easy to pick the most interesting scents, usually things I like or find a little freaky, which may or may not be mainstream interesting to most of you. The danger lies in going over the top with praise, it can end up being a lot of self-indulgent smack – literary Onanism, if you will. I think most of you that have been reading perfume reviews for a while know that YSMV (your skin may vary). What one person loves and adores may be a complete freak show on you, so always take any review with a grain of salt – mine as well!

So to avoid any mental kerfuffles today, I asked Lee and March to tell me what to write about, and they’ve chosen Caron Bellodgia and Fleurs de Rocaille, some beautiful Caron classics that are easy to get and relatively cheap for the parfum/extrait version. I did a quick search and found Bellodgia at Imagination Perfumery for $75 for 1/2 ounce of the extrait and at 1stperfume for $59.99 (yeah, yeah, I know they can have problems, but I’ve never had any they didn’t fix). Fleurs de Rocaille I’ve found at 1st Perfume in the past, but they don’t appear to have any now, but it’s been pretty economical when I have bought it, sub-$100 for the extrait. Note the plural on Fleurs, that’s the one you want, not Fleur.

Bellodgia has notes of carnation, rose, jasmine, violet, lily of the valley, sandalwood, vanilla and musk and was created by Ernest Daltroff in 1927. This is probably one of the more accessible Carons for those of you that are not fond of the Caron mousse de saxe base that you find in the urns and Nuit de Noel & Narcisse Noir. It starts out most definitely with carnation, but it’s not the strong carnation/clove that Poivre and Coup de Fouet have. The peppery carnation feel is softened quickly on the open by the other floral notes, and it truly feels like a product of its time, but never trapped in that. It’s from a time when women smelled elegantly of flowers, but with this, the musk warms it beautifully so it’s not just another pretty floral face. Every time I put this on, it just surrounds me with a beautiful scent, like stepping into a dreamlike summer garden, and I wonder why I ever wear anything else.

With notes of Gardenia, Violet, Lily of the valley, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lilac, mimosa, iris, Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Amber, Fleurs de Rocaille has that some lovely floral softness on the open, with the emphasis on the ylang, but it has a bit more of a bite or sharpness to it — not bitter sharp, just crisp, and a little green – from the aldehydes/LotV, I guess? Where Bellodgia is all warmth, Fleurs de Rocaille is cooly elegant, with a “Can’t Touch This, dah dah, dah dah” Hammertime vibe. As it dries down, the LotV loses the more green, sharp feel. This is a perfume to keep you company in the quiet, contented moments of your life.

Two underappreciated Caron beauties.

Last minute add: Serge Lutems Five O’Clock au Gingembre just showed up. Honey, ginger, tea. Don’t see tea as a note, but whether it’s in there in reality or not doesn’t matter because the combination gives off that beautiful scent of freshly brewed. Love.

Okay, so now I’m looking for tips, etc. We are doing a big graduation trip in June to Europe. We’ll be spending a couple of days in Paris with my uncle, then we’ll be traveling down the Loire Valley (castle crawl for the youngest son graduating from High School – he loves, loves, loves castles, despite the fact he’s never been in one) into Bordeaux/Dordogne, where my uncle has a country home. From there, we’ll have to zoom back to Paris to either catch the train or fly to Florence, Italy. We’re staying at a B&B there for about a week, then we go to Rome for two days before we return home.

Now, what is the absolute must-see castle in France or Italy? Or one site in the French countryside we shouldn’t miss or something we can’t miss in Umbria/Florence/Tuscany or Rome?

Painting – Caravaggio’s Narcissus
  • Hilda Rosa Michel says:

    When our sons were aged 16, 6 and 5, we spent a summer in Dordogne and Roussillon – and of course, castles were on the list of ‘must sees’ and I have to say we never tired of them sicne theya re all so different. Their favourites then and later were always not the fancy chateaux from the 17th and 18th centuries but the castle fortresses. You will find quite a few of these in the Dordogne area, more than the Loire which has more chateaux. There is a great castle near Sarlat (can’t rememebr the name and can’t find it the book right now) that is connected to Eleanor of Aquitaine and has been partially restored but is perched on a mountaintop with view sover the river and valleys in all directions. This area has some of the best food in France too! The very best castles are further south and near the Pyrenees – the magnificent Cathar castles of Monsegur and Pyrepertuse. Not as well known and harder to get to and off the beaten track. But well worth seeking out. Pyrepertuse was the best we saw. My sons were all castle fanatics (still are for that matter) and Pyrepertuse is one of their ‘best of all time’. I also second Rocamadour – not a cstle but a sort of naturally fortified town -very unique place.
    You will love it no matter what you see!

  • LizS says:

    Hey there! I love where you are going! My sister studied (college) in Florence last year, and so i have to say i am partial to Florence, I liked it much better there than in Rome. If you can stand it, take the train from Paris to Florence, you’ll get to see the absolutely beautiful countryside and its a lot more relaxing than a plane, if you can waste a whole day. I took a plane when i left paris and went to florence, and i wish i hadn’t, because it didn’t save any time and the people flying are just horrible, pushy and rude, but i did do a train from rome to florence and that was peachy, relaxing, and too short because it was so gorgeous! i did the same thing; paris to florence to rome. you dont need someone to watch the kids, do you??? ohhhh it was SO FUN! you’re going to have such a great time!

  • minette says:

    chambord, chenonceau, and cheverny would make a lovely threesome to which i’d add azay le rideau. each has its own charms.

    looking forward to the gingembre.

  • margaret says:

    oops, sorry not sure how THAT happened!

  • sylvia says:

    are you making a pitstop in grasse? versailles is beautiful, but i have a feeling thats not exactly the kind of castle your kid has in mind. one day i’d love to go to scotland and ireland and see THOSE castles. wow.

    • Patty says:

      No grasse on this trip, unfortunately. Versailles we are definitely seeing. I’ve been through it, but not had any time there. we need to do a trip through!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Bellodgia is one of my favorites! I love its creamy-carnationy lushness. Fleurs de Rocaille, however, I can’t rave about. It’s a nice floral, but I just don’t find it that compelling, especially when compared with N’Aimez Que Moi and Acaciosa.

    This isn’t exactly a castle rec, but if you’re in Tuscany, try to stop here:

    San Gimignano is an incredibly well-preserved walled Medieval town. It was one of the highlights of my trip to Italy several years ago.

    • Patty says:

      That’s two recommendations for that place, so it’s definitely going on the list. I have a weakness for medieval walled cities. I wouldn’t have wanted to live then, but I still love them!

      • March says:

        San Gimignagno (I know i just spelled that wrong) is, like, absurdly out-of-a-move hill town. Absolutely gorgeous. There’s a great area to picnic in there with your family, after you round up your victuals. Plan to gain 10 – 15 on your trip 🙂

        Siena I loved, but it’s a city — cool things to see/do, but a city. If you’re doing Florence and you have to choose I’d do San G over Siena.

        PS I stayed in one of those agriturismos in the country and I thought it suuuuuucked. People keep cows etc. there are FLIES everywhere outside. Of course if you drink enough wine you tend not to notice, but it does mess with your bocce skilz.

        Florence! I lurved Florence. Don’t forget to get your tickets to the Uffizi ahead of time so you don’t have to stand in the ridiculous line (not sure how you do this, but I know you can.) And the iPdF store is three blocks from there! REally fun apothecary with WAY more cool scents than they export, and they are CHEAP — like $25. Excellent bakery across the street from iPdF… I loved our hotel, very close by, will see if I can find the name.

  • Robin says:

    Oooh, jealous of your castle crawl! That sounds, uh, dreamy.

  • Mariekel says:

    Castles! The most grand of the Loire chateaux is definitely Chenonceaux. This baby has it all: moat, pointy turrets, spacious grounds where you can wander in your custom-made Galliano couture and imagine you are Diane de Poitiers. But if crumbly, imposing, haunted-looking castles are your son’s thing, I recommend Chinon (which has the advantage of being situated amongst the Loire’s finest red wine vineyards).

    If you fancy staying overnight in the area, Chateau Montgouverne, next to Vouvray, is absolutely wonderful and quite reasonably priced. It is stunningly furnished, with lovely grounds that include a swimming pool and tennis courts.

  • Mariekel says:

    Castles! The most grand of the Loire chateaux is definitely Chenonceaux. This baby has it all: moat, pointy turrets, spacious grounds where you can wander in your custom-made Galliano couture and imagine you are Agnes Sorel. But if crumbly, imposing, haunted-looking castles are your son’s thing, I recommend Chinon (which has the advantage of being situated amongst the Loire’s finest red wine vineyards).

    If you fancy staying overnight in the area, Chateau Montgouverne, next to Vouvray, is absolutely wonderful and quite reasonably priced. It is stunningly furnished, with lovely grounds that include a swimming pool and tennis courts.

  • Disteza says:

    This might be out of your way, but you can always try to visit the Château d’Yquem, in the southern part of Bordeaux. I believe they have tastings, and that whole area is great for imbibing in general.

    • Patty says:

      That may be further south than we want to go, but my husband is a big bordeaux fan, so he may insist on that!

  • violetnoir says:

    Ooh, what a fabulous trip, darling! But no, I have no suggestions for castles. I can’t wait to hear about your travels and see all of the gorgeous photos of the castles.

    Love Bellogdia for its warm, girly creaminess, but I never warmed to Fleurs de Rocaille.

    I must, must spritz the new SL next time I visit Luckyscent.

    Hugs and love!

  • JenniferR says:

    Bellodgia was the first Caron I fell in love with. I’ve been so busy falling in love with others that I’ve left her languishing — must go back and revive the affaire …
    O what a trip!
    Chambord in the Loire is lovely, but you don’t have to pick just one. Depending on how many days you have, you can do a lovely trip more or less along the river and catch a bunch of ’em. BUT … if the main motivator is your son’s interest, I’m just guessing that you’ll want to pick ’em with care. And I’m guessing that he’d be most interested in the ones that have some real history as fortresses. I love Blois for its architectural history, for example, but the oldest (most fortressy) bits were demolished in the 15th century. Still, it’s a marvellous ramble through the past with something for just about everybody.
    On the other hand, my favorite “pretty” chateaux, Chenonceau and Azay-le-Rideau, have nothing of the fortress-castle about them.
    Chinon, on the other hand, is where Joan of Arc was held … (also one of my favorite wine appellations …)
    If you haven’t already, pick up the Michelin Green Guide to Chateaux of the Loire. (I much prefer the regional green guides to the big national ones. You might like the one for the Dordogne, too …)
    And do make the trip to Siena from Florence. I believe it’s still much nicer to take the bus (bus station right near the train station). The bus drops you off right by the church of Saint Dominic, where you can see Catherine of Siena’s head.
    And for your castle-loving son, and for the views, and the trip itself, and just a splendid excursion, make another (bus) day trip to San Gimignano, where some of the medieval towers that represented clan feuding are still standing.

    • Patty says:

      Great suggestions, thank you! I’m going to pick up that guide. I think we want a mix, some well-preserved and some with the old fortresses and spooky rundown, we behead people here vibe. 🙂

  • Silvia says:

    Just a quickie as work is killing me.
    I am Italian but France beats us hands down on castles. However, I am sure you will all enjoy Siena, just a day trip from Florence.
    When in Florence, make sure you have a “fiorentina” steak at “Il Latini”: it will not disappoint.
    Can’t wait to be at those Caron urns tomorrow morning….

  • Margaret says:

    The Palais Ideal in Hauterives France is a must see. This is the weirdest quirkiest place you’ll ever visit!

    • Patty says:

      Thank you! that is going to the top of the list!

      • margaret says:

        Patty – the other place that I loved is La Fabuloserie (I couldn’t think of the name earlier). If you google that, you’ll come up with the website and info. Amazing place!! Those are my two most favorite quirky places I’ve traveled to.
        On topic, I bought bellogdio unsniffed and I’m not too sure yet. It goes all sharp on me. :- But I’ll tuck it away and try again later.

      • margaret says:

        Patty – the other place that I loved is La Fabuloserie (I couldn’t think of the name earlier). If you google that, you’ll come up with the website and info. Amazing place!! Those are my two most favorite quirky places I’ve traveled to.
        On topic, I bought bellogdio unsniffed and I’m not too sure yet. It goes all sharp on me. But I’ll tuck it away and try again later.

  • donanicola says:

    Meeting Silvia by the Caron urns in Fortnum’s tomorrow (yippee!) so will be sure to take a good sniff of these two. Love love love Poivre so I guess I’m half way there with Bellodgia. Oh that Serge sounds enticing…. What a fabulous trip you are planning! It might be out of your way but I love Avignon in the south/Provence way. It is a very old walled city with a stupendous fortified palace built by the popes in the twelth century I think when they decided to take a break from Rome. To the west there is Carcassone though the castle looks at its best from a distance (its been heavily restored).

    • Patty says:

      I’m trying to figure out if we can fit Avignon on, I’ve always wanted to go there, but we’re just on the wrong side of France for the first half of the trip, and then we wouldn’t have much time, the way it’s shaping up now. But we may still get there!!!

      you guys have fun at the urns!

  • Sounds like a GREAT trip!

    I would suggest Chateau de la Flocelliere, which is about 100km or a little less from Nantes and is stunning architectrally and with a rich history (it’s quite ancient compared to others in the area which are built in the 18th century).
    Seconding Rocamadour too.

    Galleria Uffici is of course not to be missed in Florence (although it had suffered damages some years ago). But then the whole area is wonderful for little drives in the countryside.

    LOVE Bellodgia!:x

  • Wordbird says:

    Go by train to Florence. It will take longer but is a much greener and more pleasant way to travel – plus you get to see the countryside, which is enchanting.

    And I know it’s off-track, but they’re building a whole new medieval castle in Burgundy, if that will be screamingly wonderful for your son. It’s a living history thing, rather than a Disney Corp thing.

    If you’re in Cathar-hunting mood, you might try heading south from Bordeaux and visiting Cahors and the Pyrenees? Then you could train it to Italia along the south cost of France (oooh – maybe a stop in Grasse?). Don’t know if you’ve read Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth but if you’re into the grail mystery thing, it might give you some ideas. And it was a good read.

    • Patty says:

      Great suggestions! We’re still iffy on the train only because we’d be taking it the 6th overnigh into the 7th. The 7th is my husband’s birthday, and that could be a cranky way to start the day if we haven’t slept well overnight.

  • judith says:

    Have a wonderful trip!–but don’t forget to end up in Boston!:)
    I love Bellodgia, FdR not so much, although the bottles are lovely. Must try the SL!!

    • Patty says:

      Boston is firmly on the calendar for the first weke of April!

      I think you should like the new SL, but Lee and I both loved Rouse and other people didn’t so much. 🙂

  • Wendy says:

    I had just put on Bellodgia when I opened my Google reader and found this post. The only problem I’m having today is that I put it on over another scrubbed scent that refused to leave (The Body Shop – Rougeberry if you must know).

    As a result – I wound up with this strange wrestling match between the Bellodgia and the Rougeberry. I think the Bellogdia is finally winning…..#:-s

    On both the Fleurs de Rocaille and the Bellodgia – the lily of the valley dominates the top notes on me. The Bellodgia becomes a pretty carnation (though I think I prefer the Poivre) and the Fleurs de Rocaille became white floral soap. I need to try that one again though since I scrubbed it before it finished its dry down.

    I’ve been running into writers block problems myself so I fully understand where you are coming from.

    • Patty says:

      I can see how the FdR may go to soap. I’m lucky it doesn’t on me, but it seems like one that can go either way.

      Writer’s block… it’s terrible. Mine just blocks on the subject, but does fine once I figure out what to write on.

  • Héloïse says:

    This is Rocamadour.

    Basilique XIIe century. The second site visited in France (the first is Mont Saint Michel)

  • Lee says:

    I do wish the Carons would take me into oneiric reverie. As yet, I admire them – on others.

    So, you’re enjoying 5pm, eh? Great!

    • Patty says:

      Wake up, snap out of it!!!

      Yeah, the Five is amazing. Harry sniffed it on my hand and wouldn’t give my hand back. For him, that’s high praise indeed. Very few scents get there for him.

  • Marina says:

    Literary Onanism 🙂 I think there is a fancy synonym for that. March, help me out here. What was the word again? :d:d:d

    And to be on topic, Carons don’t love me, especially these two :((

    • March says:

      Marina, babe, we really have to get you brushed up on your English skilz. Like soliflore. And … dang, what IS that word? Oenophile? Osiris? Orris? Nah, that’s not it…

      The words “mousse de saxe” make me do my own teeny version of The Scream. Wish we had a little Scream emoticon.

      • erin k says:

        LOL! the words “mousse de saxe” pretty much thrill me! but then, i love “the scream,” too …


    • Patty says:

      I’m not surprised they don’t work for you, but I keep thinking the FsdR might be close, it has that Dior vibe going on.

      Lots and lots of words that cover Onanism. 🙂

  • Sariah says:

    I’m impressed that every week you guys come up with great topics and posts – totally see how it could be hard to think of topics to get started. I kind of OD’d on Villoresi Garofano last year – still love it but I’m over carnation for a while. Your trip sounds amazing but have not been to those areas so no tips.

    • Patty says:

      Carnation is easy to OD on! 🙂 I try and be very careful with it bcause I love it so. I suspect if you give it enough time, you’ll be back to enjoying it again!!!

  • chayaruchama says:

    To quote the Benajesarit mother in DUNE,-
    “Get out of my head !”
    We must be in sync.

    I had detested my FdR, but never given up on it.
    [Ironically, I love, and own, most Carons]
    I recently re-tried, and WOWZERS !
    Love.I bought myself an oz. of extrait, quite bon marche.

    Bellodgia, I love in EDP and extrait.
    Romantic, spicy, fresh, warm.

    Years ago, I traversed the ‘route de vins d”Alsace’, because my father hailed from there.
    The entire experience was something like stepping into a Brueghel painting, replete with hunters’ bags hung on wooden pegs [bursting with fresh game], and dachshunds begging at table for scraps….

    • Patty says:

      Oh, I’m glad you rediscovered FsdR! It really is a treause, and I think it’s been so referenced either in Scent of a Woman or other places that people think it’s old fashioned, but it’s just so not. Truly lovely.

      That sounds like an amazing trip. I admire the unchangingness of Europe. I think it’s just all the old architecture that we don’t have here, so we are more prone to modernity in our countryside, everything gets upgraded and super-sized. It loses a little charm as well, but it does provide cheaper food, which is a good thing.

  • Helen T says:

    Patty, I would go for Chambord in France. It’s spectacular from an architecture point of view, it has some interesting history bits, beautiful gardens and the sun has always shone when I’ve been there. Can’t promise that though!

    Sounds like an amazing trip, need a bag carrier?

    • Patty says:

      I’d love to take you all along as bag carriers! We’ve been waiting for this trip forever. Either the kids were too young or too wild or whatever. So we are totally jacked about it!

  • Maria says:

    Ah, Patty, you have chosen two fragrances with which I have some history. I wore the Bellodgia extrait for a while in my twenties. The bottle was beautiful, like a grand European greenhouse. (It was supposed to refer to something in Ballagio.) The way I remembered it, it was mostly carnations, like Poivre. Then I tried the extrait again recently and was shocked to smell other flowers in it. What were they doing there? I guess my taste has changed, and I want the hot purity of Poivre. BTW, the EdT of Bellodgia is nasty.

    Fleurs de Rocaille and I go farther back. I was given the EdT when I was an adolescent. I loved the freshness. I always thought of a rock garden or mountain wildflowers when I put it on. (The name means Rock Garden Flowers.) I started feeling nostalgic for it a few years ago and thought I was trying it on in a perfume shop in downtown Miami. Ugghhh! The shopowner told me it had been reformulated. Nothing fresh about that version. Later I learned that I had tried on Fleur, without the s. The fragrance I loved was the 1934 Daltroff creation, Fleurs de Rocaille with the s. I bought some extrait as soon as it appeared at the Frip. Bingo! It was the lovely fragrance I remembered, but deeper because it was in extrait form. One fun discovery was a little musky something in the drydown–and I had thought it was all innocence. I’ve been thinking about Fleurs de Rocaille lately because spring is here.

    Patty, I’m not a great expert on European vacations, but I envy your trip to the Dordogne. My alma mater sent me a brochure for a trip to the Dordogne and both my DH and I melted with longing. From the photos it looks as if Rocamadour is a must-see Medieval town. I believe it has a castle.

    • Patty says:

      re-uniting someone with a lost perfume love is truly one of the great joys about decanting. It’s like putting together lost family or friends because a lot of perfums has a very specific time/place pull on the deepest part of our being.

      Can’t wait! I know nothing about the Dordogne, and I need to get filled in from my uncle as well since they spend a good amount of time down there, but that whole section of France is just too cool for words, it’s hard to know what to make sure you see!

  • Vanessa says:

    I’ve de-lurked after enjoying your blog for some time. Come over to England and visit Hever and Leeds castles which are both accesible from London and then you can fit in a London perfume shopping expedition as well!

    • kathleen says:

      Sorry, this is off topic. My 2 favorite places. Frisbee at Hever, Bonfire Nite at Leeds (flask in pocket). Good memories

    • Patty says:

      My next visit to Europe will definitely include London or Lee will likely just kill me. It was too hard to fit it in this round, but it’s on my list that we must do!!!

  • Kim says:

    Have only tried these 2 Carons in the edt versions and didn’t care for them. But that was my initial mistake with Guerlain – is Caron like that too, better in parfum/extrait than the edt? Hope you will be doing a full review of SL Gingembre.

    • Patty says:

      Carons definitely need the parfum/extrait to know if they work for you or not. The edt/edp version have a sharpness that the parfums just don’t. Night and day for me.

      • Kim says:

        sounds like I need to visit the perfumed court again and get the extrait versions. I could never get what everyone was going on about with the Carons! It is interesting to me that this seems to be an issue more with the classics like the Carons and Guerlains (the true old fragrance houses) or the older Chanels. Or is it just the era in which the perfume was created?

        looking forward to what you have to say about the new Lutens Gingembre!

  • erin k says:

    i just fell head over heels for Bellodgia after trying it last week, and i really didn’t expect to – soliflores aren’t usually my favorites, though i think they’re quite pretty. but Bellodgia just haunts me. as much as i adore the dark Caron base, i don’t miss it here; as you said, the musky base keeps it warm and grounded, while the powdery carnation just soars off my skin. despite my efforts above, this scent just defies description!

    and i am really lemming for that Lutens!


    • Patty says:

      Bellodgia is a forever fave for me, and it surprises me that I never weary of it.

      The new Lutens is pretty amazing. I’ll post more next week, but think the best parts of Miel de Bois and the best parts of CdG Tea or L’Artisan Tea for Two. It’s just smoky honey ginger tea goodness. Lovely

      • Musette says:

        I spent a little bit of my Spritzapalooza day snuggling up to the Carons. I’d forgotten how incredible Bellodgia is (Fleurs, not quite so much for me, though it’s still very, very pretty). The parfum it is!

        Got totally mauled by Serge and F. Malle. Totally. To quote my papi, “I don’t know whether to sh*t or go blind” (don’t ask me – it’s just something he says!:-) Having recently fallen totally and completely in love with T42 I can’t wait to try the Serge gingembre! Who’dathunkit?!