The Osmotheque Class + Serge Lutens Palais Royal Yellow Room: May 2018

Hi Posse, I’m following on from last weeks Paris Springtime 2018 post. As there were over a dozen perfumistas congregated in Paris on the same weekend I organised for us to do a class at The Osmotheque on the Friday and a special Bell Jar Showcase upstairs in the Yellow Room at Palais Royale Serge Lutens on the Saturday. I had previously done Versailles Palace and the Osmotheque with my buddy Michael and knew the crew would love it. That time we had Jean Kerleo as our host and it was stellar. Jin and I had also done the Serge Lutens Yellow Room Bell Jar Experience at the Palais Royal store with my friend Elvire hosting us. This is more a showcase than a lesson but still very interesting and fun.

The Osmotheque Class + Serge Lutens Palais Royal Yellow Room

A smaller crew of us decided to go see the Versailles Palace before we went to the Osmotheque. The train strike affected us a little bit. We also had trouble getting everyones tickets sorted and finding each other. So an hour later than hoped we finally got underway. Michael and I had the genius idea of visiting the gardens first and coming back to do the palace tour quickly after. We took the Choo Choo Train down to the Petit and Grand Trianons and had a beautiful sunny adventure. Unfortunately, once you do the gardens you cannot get back into the palace. Michael and I were so tortured that we’d made everyone do the gardens and then we had to leave to do our class. It was a very sorry crew heading out.

The Osmotheque Class

Once at the Osmotheque we met the rest of the crew. Nine of us in total were on site to do the class. Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when our teacher turned out to be Patricia de Nicolai! Seriously, how freaking amazing is that? She was so friendly and charming. I immediately fell under her spell and the rest of the crew were equally in awe.

The Osmotheque Class

Patricia has a fun and entertaining history of fragrance and materials lecture. It is broad ranging, covers history, perfumers, houses, perfumery, science, marketing, distribution and fashion. At every step in the timeline there is a fragrance or raw material to sniff and many of them are original or recreations from long lost formulas refound. From original Fougere Royal, Coty Chypre and Jicky to Iris Gris, real musk tincture from the 1950s and real oakmoss, Some things we sniffed can be smelled almost nowhere else on earth.


We got super involved and asked so many questions and had too much to sniff. We went well overtime and Patricia had to get the last 20 minutes of lecture into 5 minutes so she could kick us out. Having done so she did have a few photos with us all.


Seriously, I cannot impress on you enough how amazing this was. You too can do this lecture if you are in Paris with a few friends. Even two people can do it. 2-6 people are €150 each, 6-10 people €100 each. Email [email protected] to find out more.

Palace of Versailles

The Osmotheque class finished. I knew we had just enough time to get the guys back to Versailles Palace and into the Hall of Mirrors before it closed for the day. We jumped in a couple of Ubers and sped there, making it within 15 minutes of front doors closing. PHEW! Got to see all the good stuff and take some shots. I’ll never forget being there with these guys.

Serge Lutens Palais Royal Yellow Room

I booked the class for 10am and there were some VERY bleary perfumistas arriving at the Palais Royal gardens, some could not even pull themselves out of bed. A Whiskey bar evening with Michael had decimated them. Tasting and talking till all hours of the morning took its toll.

There had been an influx of extra perfumistas overnight who couldn’t get the Friday off work. They travelled in the evening to be with us from the UK and Europe. Twelve able bodies from 4 continents all came together for this fun adventure.

The Yellow Room is up a spiral staircase in the centre of the store. The purple downstairs is so oppressive I find it hard to function. Upstairs the yellow is lighter and friendlier. Two large arched windows dominate one wall and let in some light.

Rather than a learning experience this is more of a fun sales pitch and we were taken through twelve of the more challenging bell jars and then had time to sniff the rest of the collection. Shopping was the next order of the day and I don’t mind telling you I went a bit crazy. My purchases included La Myrrh, Chene and Chypre Rouge. I had given myself a two bottle limit but what the hell.

If there are 6 or more of you in Paris this adventure is free but you are expected to shop afterwards. They do have two staff take you through the fragrances, supply cakes & coffees and you get to see the fabled Yellow Room. We all had to mule bell jars for friends as well so the Serge Lutens shop did very nicely out of us that morning. Go to Serge Lutens if you’d like to ask about it.


So which adventure sounds best to you?
Would you do one or both?
Portia xx

  • Koyel says:

    Portia, I was in Paris when you were, and I was at the SL store in Palais Royal one morning when I saw someone who looked a little like you walk in! The Portia-lookalike was with one other person, and they went up to the Yellow Room, but I think they left soon after. I was sad I didn’t approach your lookalike to see if it was you, but I’m comforted by the fact that you seem to have gone with a big group of people, so it probably wasn’t you!

    I got to see the Yellow Room when I went up to the toilets after my purchases (la Myrrhe and Santal de Mysore! I was only going to get one, but oh well).

    Anyway, these both look lovely 🙂 I would love to check out the Osmotheque; the class sounds delightful! Glad you had a great time.

    • Portia says:

      Oh NOOO Koyel! What a bummer we didn’t get together. Was I with a taller man than me? We went a few days before to make sure everything was going to be ready. It could very easily have been us.
      YAY! Love that you really splurged on yourself. Have you opened and worn them yet?

      The Osmotheque is extraordinary, you must go one day.

      Hopefully we will get to meet sometime, are you a Paris citizen?
      Portia x

      • Koyel says:

        Oh bummer!!! So it might well have been you! I just got really nervous and scared of how this stranger would respond if it were NOT you 🙁 It would’ve been a thrill to meet you. I am not a resident of Paris; I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so if you come out here and organize a meet-up, I’d be beyond thrilled!

        I’ve definitely opened and worn both of my bell jars. They’re exquisite. Santal de Mysore is my favorite.

        • Portia says:

          We are hoping to come back to the USA once the government changes Koyel. Then we will definitely come to SF as I’ve not been there yet.
          Portia xx

  • Musette says:

    Holy snakes and cabbage! That looks like TOO MUCH FUN! Wish I could’ve been there with you – I know how much fun you bring to any occasion, Portia. Though, I confess, it would’ve been tough to fun-up that Purple Room, even for you. Just looking at that photo gave me the flux!

    omg, Versailles. That is some serious bling, innit? xoxoxo

    • Portia says:

      You would have freaking LOVED this trip. HA! Even the purple room would have been a memory.
      Versailles is outrageous. No wonder the peasants revolted.
      Portia xx

  • Maggiecat says:

    As amazing as both of these events sound (I would probably be struck speechless in the presence of Patricia de Nicolai!), I think the most amazing part would be being with other perfumistas and sharing this with them.

    • Portia says:

      100% Maggiecat,
      I was a total fan girl the whole way with PdN. She is really fun and funny, some of her asides had us howling. Her knowledge of the perfume scene and history is astounding.
      Having the crew around made everything sweeter and more entertaining. Life goal attained.
      Portia xx

  • malsnano86 says:

    Oh, lovely story of a lovely experience! And great pics, too.

    I would be overjoyed to meet Patricia de Nicolai — how exciting was that? And you bought La Myrrhe. YOU BOUGHT LA MYRRHE. I love you a little extra bit now. 🙂

    • Portia says:

      HA HA HA! Excellent MalsNano86,
      Yes, I bought La Myrrhe. Feeling the love across the oceans. That IS a happy outcome.
      Portia x

  • hczerwiec says:

    Thank you so much for this vicarious pleasure! Osmotheque would be mind-blowing — and with Patricia de Nicolai? No way! I’m dying to know what straight oakmoss and Iris Gris smell like. And I would probably overbuy at SL as well.

    • Portia says:

      Oh yes HCZERWIEC,
      They are well worth the trip for those two alone. The Osmotheque is extremely interesting and the crew, who are all pretty hard core, were all interested and entertained all the way through.
      Overbuying at SL is absolutely de rigueur.
      Portia xx

  • Tara C says:

    I am fortunate to have visited Versailles already, and Serge Lutens, so I would probably do the Osmothèque visit and then just buy up a bunch of bell jars at SL. 🙂

    • Portia says:

      HA! Excellent choice TaraC,
      Any particular faves? The most bought on the day was El Attarine. The SAs were very excited that it had found an audience.
      Portia xx

  • Cee says:

    Portia-What a wonderful follow up post! Thanks for sharing. Your joie de vivre is infectious.

    I so miss your Australian Perfume Junkies blog. Is it down for good? Your Sunday wrap up was one of the joys of my weekend.

    • Portia says:

      Hiya Cee,
      APJ will be back. Hopefully mid June should see it rise like a Phoenix.
      You’ll get the whole story then.
      Yes, I miss the diary too, it was always fun to write.
      Portia xx

  • Kate E. says:

    Thank you for sharing your trip with us! It sounds like it was a whirlwind and I bet you need a vacation after that vacation!!!! What a dream to have a class taught by Patricia de Nicolai. How lucky you all are. By the way, it looks like it was a perfect day to look at the gardens at Versailles–I probably would have made the same choice myself.

    • Portia says:

      Hi there KateE,
      It was the happiest of whirlwinds indeed.
      So you know for your own visit. the palace is amazing but it’s mainly more of the same. If you quick walk to the Hall of Mirrors then quick walk out the gardens are lovely and you can catch a train down to the petit and grand Trianons. I like them far more than the big place and they are much less crowded.
      Portia x

      • Musette says:

        that sounds like a plan, indeed! petit Trianon is worth the visit, fo’ sho! and I agree that it’s ‘amazing but mainly more of the same’ – there’s only so much gilt a gal can ogle, right? 😉 xoxoxo

      • Kate E. says:

        Thanks for the tip! I’ve bookmarked it as I’m planning to visit France and Germany next year.

  • Francesca Belanger says:

    A wonderful account of two fabulous days, Portia; thanks again for making it all happen. (And let’s not forget to share our Lisa’s comment on the SL boutique: “It looks like Oscar Wilde’s knickers-drawer!”)

    • Portia says:

      O M G! Francesca! How did I not hear that on the day? Hilarious! The most perfect description ever.
      Portia xx

  • shiva-woman says:

    I’ve visited Serge Lutens, done my sniffing, seen the yellow room and gone way over the limit, but the Osthmothique has been a dream of mine! Oh, how I would love to do that, and, I’d probably hit SL again too! What a great time, surrounded by perfumistas!

    • Portia says:

      Hey Shiva-woman,
      Woo Hoo! Aren’t we the lucky ones?
      Yes. next time you’re in Paris you must go to the Osmotheque, it is wonderful.
      Portia x

  • Tara says:

    Luckily I did the Osmotheque class a few years ago, though not in such an intimate group or with such fancy surroundings. The Serge experience was a dream for me though, as you can see from my serious sniffing expression, haha. Much better than the purple shop downstairs.
    Thanks so much for inviting me along, Portia. It was a fabulous ride and it blows my mind I was only there for one full day. Felt like a week.

    • Portia says:

      You made our Paris experience so much richer. How posh are you flying over for 2 nights. Quite the Jet Set.
      I love that shot, you are 100% involved in that fragrance.
      We do have a good time.
      Portia xx