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Thursday, March 31, 2005

the scents of paris

Paris has long been known for its famous perfumes—and, indeed, it is probably one of the most purchased souvenirs from the City of Light. While you can find a wide range of the popular names at the grands magasins (or even at duty free!), the off-the-beaten-path perfumeries hold scented treasures that are not to be missed.

In the left bank’s St. Germain area, start with cult-status favorite Iunx (48-50 rue de l'Université, 7th), which sells over 60 unique fruity and woodsy fragrances that you won’t find all over town. Touch a button or lever to spritz the scent into the air or try one of the sniffing stations in this sleek modern boutique. Looking for something a bit more traditional? Stop into the bourgeois boutique Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier (84bis rue de Grenelle, 7th) to sample some intoxicating fragrances, inspired by travel and nature and using only the highest quality ingredients. An added bonus? They also sell beautiful gloves, in honor of the 17th century tradition of a king’s advisor selling both items to tout Paris.

For some more interesting olfactory research, pop over to Frederic Malle (37 rue de Grenelle, 7th). Monsieur Malle considers himself an “editor” of perfumes and has gathered nine top noses to create scents under his brand, Editions de Parfums. The vendeuse in the shop will ask you about your current fragrance habits, the type of scents you like, etc., and will then propose a few perfumes for you to try. Don’t get too excited though—while the scents are strong and very unique, you probably won’t be allowed to smell them all, for fear of contaminating your nez.