A Stroll Through Fragrance

I arrived in Paris at the end of last week to uncertain weather but come the weekend and the beginning of May, the sun was glorious and stayed with us throughout the week. Despite two Public holidays in France in the first week of May when many restaurants, shops, museums and other public places close, there is still the joy of strolling, a pace suited to a City which features some of the most stunning and breathtaking historical architecture-

The first holiday is on lst May and known as Labour Day and Fete du Muguet – the holiday is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the giving of sprigs of Lily of the Valley to family, friends and work colleagues is a significant gesture.

The tradition of giving Lily of the Valley on this day started after King Charles lX of France was offered a sprig whilst visiting the Province of Dauphine in Spring 1560. The young King found the practice so endearing that in the Spring of 1561 he decided to give a sprig of Lily of the Valley to all the ladies of his Court, saying let it now be done every year – thereafter the custom spread like wild fire throughout the Kingdom of France!

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Last Sunday local florists were open during the morning selling more elaborate Muguet designs, supermarkets had trays of Brin du Muguet and temporary stalls from The Red Cross to individual pop up vendors were all selling these delicate floral tokens and throughout the day Parisians could be seen holding this delightful and charming offering.

Ascension Day is also a public holiday in France, it is a moveable holiday and depends on when Easter occurs, it is celebrated on a Thursday, 40 days after Easter, which this year fell on the 5 May and according to the New Testament, it commemorates Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven after his crucifixion.

Most shops, Banks, schools and offices close, it is a day for family and enjoyment with the accent on foods of the new season, young lamb, asparagus, avocado and romaine salad, new potato salad, mushroom soups, apricots, figs and citruses, followed of course by the usual amazing collection of French desserts and chocolates.

Strolling through the open market on rue Cler in the 7 arrondissement is always a heady experience, the shops, fish, cheese and open fruit and vegetable stalls are there all year through but come the warmer months when the cafes and diners spill out onto the pavements, the tempting platters of food and rich red wines add to the deep and expressive smells which are always reminiscent of Paris – aromas of friendship, family, joy and memories.

I cannot leave Paris without a perfume shop experience and after the wonderful visit to the grand perfume house of Guerlain in February, I enjoyed a visit to the charming Atelier Cologne on rue du Bac.

Atelier Cologne was founded in 2009 by Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel and is the first Maison de Parfum creating pure perfumes inspired by the legendary eau de Cologne –

For the first time citruses are blended with the most precious natural raw materials for perfectly balanced creations with exceptional lasting power.

I had been searching for a new fragrance for my husband whose signature scent over many years has been Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage – our criteria was similar, a classic, fresh, not too young, not too stuffy and something which would have a lasting quality.

Atelier Cologne has 5 collections and some exceptional fragrances, our young perfume consultant was well informed but never pushy and we were left to make our own choice at our own pace – we chose Blanche Immortelle from the Metal collection – this fragrance has the light citrusy top notes of Bergamot, Mandarin and Mimosa, the middle notes are Immortelle, Jasmine Sambac and Turkish Rose and the lasting and warm base notes are Patchouli, Vetiver and Sandalwood.

Back in London my husband is delighted with his new perfume – Blanche Immortelle is described as a shared perfume,  the balance of this creation is perfect, the Immortelle is beautifully supported by the floral notes and the Patchouli, Vetiver and Sandlewood slowly exert their influence on this gentle  but distinctive composition –

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