“In the beginning there was earth, wood, stone, metal and leather…”

These are the primal elements according to Mr. Bertrand Sonnier, owner of this artisan perfumes company for twenty years.

The work of Jardin de France began more than 100 years ago in Amboise: still manufacturing, still featuring an in-house perfumer – Justine Brivet, always giving tribute to Burgundy/Bourgogne, the heart of France – a magic place with a long and proud history.

Jardin de France is all about tradition, authenticity, craftsmanship, and the quality of raw materials.

Sources d’Origine Collection features Terre Initiale, a woody-aromatic-fruity tribute to Mother Earth, Bois Premier – a woody-spicy-green ode to ancient woods and primordial trees, Pierre Originelle – a woody-spicy-powdery fragrance, Metal Absolu – a woody-aldehyde-spicy perfume and Cuir Eternel – oriental-woody-leather eau de parfum.

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Months ago I received two samples of new Sources d’Origine perfumes. They did present them at ESXENCE Milano earlier this year, I remembered. The package was interesting. Simple glass vial samples. No perfume notes written, no inspirational text, no interpretations or suggestions: just fragrances and a note saying that these two will complete the collection in September 2018.

I like that, that’s how I prefer to meet new perfume: in my own time, exploring it and listening to its fragrant story. Giving the perfume a chance to speak for itself.

Primal elements. When I think about primal elements, I automatically think about the ancient concept of the famous 4: earth, water, air, and fire. All ancient cultures had their lists, trying to understand and explain the world surrounding them, paving way for modern science.

Another association: scenes from the Luc Besson movie “The Fifth Element”! I think we all remember the Diva/Plavalaguna song!

This leads me to say: with perfumes, WE are the fifth element! 

Air. What does air actually smell like? Air itself has no smell. Well, it does to you, regardless of what chemists say. Yes, it is odorless – odors we feel are produced by airborne particles released by things in the environment around us.

It all depends on your perception, the place where you live, your surroundings, and olfactory impressions. It might smell like fresh grass, wildlands, seaside, woods somewhere high up in mountains, mornings just before snow falls, or moments after rainfall. You might already have your set of associations due to all the perfumes with “Air” in their name you ever smelled, too.

Jardin de france collection

Fire. What does fire smell like? The fire itself has no smell, but the things it burns give it the smell we feel. If you try to imagine or recall the smell of fire, what will you feel? The scent of dry wood burning in the fireplace, paper vanishing in flames, rubber in clouds of smoke, autumn leaves, myrrh or tobacco: some are pleasant, some not…

Your perception. The olfactory impressions you gathered in your life. They matter.

Your skin, mood, feelings. 

An olfactory impression of fire and air? You are the fifth element defining it!

Let me tell you more about these two fine perfumes: I feel that Jardin de France really should be mentioned more! Sometimes it seems to me that the same names, houses, and perfumes are constantly talked about, and some really fine perfumes almost neglected, not given enough attention.

I think Jardin de France deserves it and these were my impressions after several wearings:

Air elemental bottle


Well, this will certainly make you stop thinking “fresh and light” when you see “air” in the name of perfume in the future! This air is breathing heavy, like wet earth during a storm! Thunder and lightning and that sensation when you are looking at a storm approaching, even before it starts to rain.

You see dark clouds moving in, the wind rises, thunder is rumbling above your head yet it feels so good to sit beside an open window and breathe this moment in before lightning bolts scare you and heavy raindrops start hitting on the window glass.

This potent rumbling of thyme with pepper notes is pleasing but what I find most enjoyable is this tuberose -ginger relationship! I will say this now: whatever. Forget the notes list and just follow your feeling! The opening felt impressive, but let me reassure you: the smooth and hugging amber dry-down will soothe your soul.

The Perfumer’s Note: “If the creation of an air-themed perfume was obvious, we wanted to take the opposite of the fresh and light air that everyone expected to create an intense and powerful “air” which astonishes and disturbs”.

Notes: Bergamot, Thyme, Pepper – Tuberose, Ginger – Patchouly, Amber

Feu Primitif Jardin de France


Very uplifting at the beginning, a wake me up call, quite sparkling. Later on, it becomes quieter in a very refined way, and I can’t explain why it feels like Indian Summer to me: there’s warmth and there’s coldness. Rose is felt in the air, with a surprise: you cannot see roses in your garden anymore, it’s too late in the year for that, yet that makes you enjoy even more the one you bought this morning at your local florist’s.

This rose is big, pink, and just when you are placing it in a vase you can feel a small whiff of its scent. That makes you feel good as you look at it, hoping it will last for more than a couple of days.

Incense dances slowly around it, swirling in the background, a back vocal on a small and intimate stage, like a thin, silver, functional picture frame. What I feel is a deliberate play with light and shadows, bitterness and sweetness, finely blended with evidently high-quality ingredients.

The Perfumer’s Note: “Timut Pepper is used for its frank and fresh attack that perfectly illustrates the bright and sparkling element that I wanted to create. I also tried to break the codes of incense in order to get away from the sacred aspect that is often associated with it.”

Notes: Timut Pepper, Orange, Elemi- Black Tea, Rose – Incense, Cypress, Cedar of Virginia

These two new additions to Le Jardin de France’s Sources d’Origine Collection are presented at Pitti Fragranze 2018:

Jardin de France Air

Available from October 2018. You can find their chosen retailers on the Jardin de France website.

Elena Cvjetkovic

The Plum Girl

Photos: The Plum Girl archive, Jardin de France

Samples: Provided by Jardin de France, opinions of my own.


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