In my pre-travel readings I read a fabulous book titled, The Perfume Collector, by Kathleen Tessaro. I could not put it down. I was mesmerized. It would set the mood for the Paris vacation.
In Kathleen’s words about the book:
An inheritance from a mysterious stranger…….
An abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank of Paris……….
And three exquisite perfumes that hold a memory…….and a scent.
It put me on a quest for perfume in Paris!
After the events of the past days I am determined to go shopping today. I have been ogling shop windows filled with beautiful bling and nuggets and watched women spray perfume on what looks like white plant garden markers, long enough. I have stopped at every little stand in front of the perfume shops and followed suit. The perfume dealers are very smart. These little stands have two or three perfume bottles on them and the white markers. I spray the marker and “oh” and “ah” over the scents. Off I would go with the markers in my inside coat pocket and whenever I reached into my pocket what a delight of delicious fragrances I received!
One day, before Christmas, I ventured into a tiny perfume shop. There was one French woman there discussing a perfume with the owner. She went on and on……..and on….the gentleman giving her full attention. Now, here is where I want to add my view of French shopping, well most European shopping for that matter. No one is ever in a hurry. The customer may take hours looking, selecting, trying, and asking questions. More samples are brought, more questions answered. Get the picture? Shopping is an art form here. One customer at a time. The customer is special. The clerk sees to that. My first observance of this was seen in the movie, Love Actually. In one scene, a man is looking at jewelry and the elegant man behind the counter enlightens him on the art of shopping. I loved it! This is a Christmas movie, my favorite Christmas movie, but the message of the movie holds true, so I like to watch it throughout the year. Put it on your movie list, you will not be disappointed! The salespeople in Paris are exactly like the behind the counter clerk in this movie. Here in Paris, I was fascinated just watching the scene play out before me and could not wait for it to be my turn! On this pre-Christmas day we couldn’t wait, but I vowed to be back.
Today I hobble to the perfume shop, that in my mind is the greatest perfume shop ever! It is tiny with bricked walls and wooden tables with a selected few perfume bottles. Papa Bear and I are the only customers here today! The gentleman addresses me. I tell him I have been here before, when he was busy with another customer. He shows me all the perfumes. I sniff, I doodle. I think. I sniff some more. I ask about the fragrances. We carry on a conversation for over an hour and I make my selections. Oh, but we are not through! Now he will make me leather covers with any initials or wording I like, to be placed on the smaller bottles I have selected. The leather covers come with the perfume, he explains.
I choose from the many leather color options. More time. We take a seat before his work desk. A large machine (made in the USA, he tells me) is prepared to take a silver leafing paper that will heat up, leaving the initials I have selected pressed into the leather. The handle is lowered and the foil heats up, transferring silver initials onto the leather case. This takes several minutes, since the heat must reach a certain temperature and the foil pressed evenly. When the process is complete, he takes the leather case from the machine and rubs and buffs and rubs and buffs the leather some more. He puts on his glasses to inspect the results. He doesn’t like the look of the initials so he throws it away! He starts over on another piece of leather of my choosing. Again, it does not meet his inspection. Third try on one bottle and it is perfect! We have more bottles to go! At last we have completed the sale of perfume and after individually tissue wrapping each one and putting each one in an individual box, he places the lot in an elegant looking carrying bag, and thanks me. Next he reaches into a drawer and selects a handful of french postcards, each with a different perfume scent artfully tied to them with brown cording and places THEM in my elegant bag. YES, this is shopping in Paris! Let’s move on to the next shop! Before the day is over I have almost as many free gifts, as the gifts I bought! Not just trinkets either. In one shop I got a small bound diary/calendar that also explained the history of charms. I loved it! As Kathleen said, “What memories! What scents!”
Also Baby Bear shared her tip from her perfumer. He suggested spraying or dabbing your favorite perfume on the BACK OF YOUR NECK, for the most lasting results that is pleasant for you (you can smell it) as well as those around you. It really works! At the end of the day I continued to smell a whisper of the fragrance on my pillow!
PS: The day would not be complete without a stop for shopping fuel.
It’s getting dark. Back to the apartment! I am really hobbled now!
The Perfume shop was: Atelier Cologne, Nenesse, rue de Poitou, Paris, France