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Côte d’Azur

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Bienetre. The moment I thought about this phrase, sweet memories surfaced quickly: just last Summer we were getting bucketloads of bienetre while cruising along winding roads of Côte d’Azur, and the region of ProvanceAlps MaritimesGrasse included, of course! (if you want to find out more about things to do in Grasse, you can find my travelogues here and here)

I waited for nostalgia to kick in. I knew it would, eventually. Ever since Esxence three labeled transparent vials were carefully placed into a “to-do” box on my desk (thank you, Megan and Jean-Phillipe!). First sniffs in Milan were promising, beautiful blue bottles tempting, sparkles of gold inside like captured rays of sunshine:

Atelier des Ors The Riviera Collection 2019

First, there were transparent bottles with black caps and boxes: the Black Collection (reviewed here: here and here). At Esxence 2018. the White Collection was revealed, featuring Nuda Veritas, Crepuscule de Ames and Choeur des Anges (my personal favorite) – a triptych in bottles with white caps and boxes, inspired by Gustav Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze – perfumes that took me on a trip to Vienna in search of inspiration behind the line, before writing my review – here.

This year Atelier des Ors presented bleu, blue, azur! bottles trio in the new Riviera Collection. Perfumer Marie Salamagne paints fragrant postcards from Cote d’Azur that resemble vivid tempera paintings, blending notes seamlessly, with ease and an experienced hand.

Names of the fragrances, bottles and centering around citruses, each with a different story to tell, are in accordance with the concept of relaxed, classy summertime luxury of the French Riviera. This line is inspired by the rich history of the region – more specifically the 1950s,’60s, and ’70s. Years when these beautiful gems – small towns and fishing villages scattered around the coast – became accessible to not only nobility and rich, yet still preserving an air of elegance, hedonism, and, yes, that famous bien-etre.
This wonderful corner of Earth is marked by many dreams dreamed, lovers exchanging kisses, and many a great artist got inspired by just being there.

Almost mythical:

Picture postcards of a bygone era that promise beauty and sophistication along with eternal days and nights.”

I decided to give you my more current postcards and letters from Cote d’Azur:

RIVIERA LAZULI

“Dear Marie,
I feel content and peaceful while looking at miles of sandy beaches, and that specific color of the Sea here, sunshine sparkling on its surface. Waves are rolling in in the late afternoon, turning a deeper hue of blue. Their sound is almost meditative, underlying chatter coming from the beach. It’s after 6 PM, the time of the day which I enjoy the most – Sun is now gentle to my skin, scents of Mediterranean herbs are still lingering in the mineral-salty air. I decided to spend this afternoon in Juan Les Pins (commune of Antibes), taking the short drive from Grasse to get here, turning right on the A8 highway to reach the beach area. It feels so intense to drive with the car roof down through these pine woods, alongside meticulously groomed golf terrains lined with old palm trees, to feel the scent of the sea in the air, getting closer and closer.

I wish you could join me for an apres-beach cocktail, our skin still salty and warm after swimming in clear blue water, feet still covered with traces of sparkling sand. We would just lean back and enjoy sounds and scents surrounding us while waiting for Sun to set.

I’m sitting in a beach bar, and don’t feel like leaving this place before dark. Looking at the boats sailing away, you can hear the wind ruffling their sails.

Will wait for the night to wrap this day up, just want to stay here a little longer, feeling this place with all my senses.

Wish you were here.
Love, E.”


Riviera Lazuli indulges you with refreshing, sparkling, freshly cut lemons at first, soon turning salty and a bit mineral.

The citruses are slightly tarty with added cypress and fir, dry, and make a great introduction for herbal-spicy notes of sage and immortelle, a bitter-sweet refreshment that feels cooling on your skin.

The heart of this perfume is pulsing softer, spicier, even sweeter: it does bring instant memories of the smell of a Mediterranean hillside in the late afternoon on a hot Summer’s day.

As you watch the magnificent gold, orange and red hues of sunset spilling themselves over the surface of the Mediterranean sea, you can also feel your own skin emanating the accumulated warmth: it does smell ever so slightly spicy, even resinous.

The transition is completed with images of driftwood, which could be felt at the beginning, turning smokier and darker in the drydown, touched slightly by incense.

Smooth, classy, easy to wear, easy to enjoy, works perfectly as an everyday scent in hot weather, preferably Spring and Summer.

Notes: lemon, cypress, bergamot, clary sage, cedarwood, gaiac wood, immortelle, fir balsam, incense.

POMELO RIVIERA

“Dear Jean-Philippe,
Good morning! I’ve just finished having my 9 AM breakfast in the garden set below this old house on the hill I’m staying at. You can see the Cannes riviera and sea in the distance, feel the wind bringing salty fresh air before the temperature rises. It’s not too hot yet, and sipping a freshly squeezed cold pomelo juice feels so refreshing, healthy, rejuvenating even. Not needing to rush anywhere feels so good!

I plan to read the local newspapers now (have to practice my French), and later I shall finish reading one of the books I brought with me. There’s a hammock waiting in the shade…I look forward to reading in it: this is going to be a very hot day.

The quality of air here is wonderful: these hills are touched by winds coming from the Alps at night, mixing with winds rolling inland from the sea during daytime: this is exactly the specific climate characteristic which makes Grasse valley one of a kind. Since I’m not far away from the old city, I can faintly feel the scent of jasmine in the air, being sprayed over the cobbly streets of Grasse: this is the season of jasmine harvest, and I do plan to visit one field in the surrounding area.

Tonight I’ll drive to Cannes: La Croisette at night is so lively and vibrant. I won’t stay long: all the buzz and bling there is fascinating but quiet nights in my “castle” on the hill are what I enjoy the most.
Best regards, E.”


Pomelo Rivera might probably become the most popular perfume in this collection.

Nomen est omen: it skilfully combines the freshness of big, juicy grapefruits (very realistic!) with salty-mineral-sea accords, adding a finely measured dose of smooth jasmine and orange blossoms.

The drydown is gently warming up your skin as if it were preparing it for the rest of the day ahead. This is a lovely, subtle and refreshing Summer fragrance with an aromatic-spicy character, quite elegant, and I can see myself wearing it all year round. I enjoyed it the most – this was a love at first sniff!

Notes: grapefruit, jasmine, bergamot, orange blossom, salt accord, rose, cedarwood.

RIVIERA DRIVE

“Dear Megan,
I’ve decided to drive over to Monte Carlo today, taking the longer route across Tourettes-sur-Loup and Vence, driving down towards Nice to join A8 highway, taking me straight to the tunnel leading to Monte Carlo/Monaco. It’s an interesting route, and I look forward to the moment when I drive out of the tunnel: the view of the sea is spectacular.

I’ll drive along the coast, savoring first glimpses of this fascinating city cut into surrounding stones. I intend to follow the F1 route through Monte Carlo (always wanted to do that in my car), visit the parks surrounding Fontvielle later, and just stroll around the town a bit. Hope they haven’t closed the road to the Casino, and that traffic won’t be that bad (those roads in the city seem so steep and narrow).

Shall be “home” in Grasse the same evening, probably visiting Menton on my way back.


See you soon in St. Maxime, will send more photos!
Love, E.”


Riviera Drive feels like a glass of cold champagne upon arrival in Monte Carlo on a bright summer day, the glass still sweating in the heat: its opening is fresh, bubbly and sparkling. The fragrance then calms down, in relaxed elegance: like tamed, meticulously shaped and groomed shrubs of rosemary and tall and elegant pine trees surrounding you in many gardens of Monte Carlo and Monaco.

I love its opening and a splendid feeling of citrusy-herbal-spicy lushness, with a dash of absinthe – very nicely executed, I wish it could last forever! As it develops in time, Riviera Drive tends to turn darker and is the most potent one in this collection: the cedar-musk-cashmeran accords become dominant and long-lasting: I could feel Riviera Drive on my skin the next morning, after applying sparingly the night before, with Cashmeran leaving a very long trail.

Perhaps the most masculine fragrance in this collection, featuring the almighty lemon-herbs-pine needles story, with added absinthe supplement, the thickness of thyme, a pinch of spicy cinnamon, and a noticeable dose of patchouli. Inspired by Hitchcock‘s movie “To Catch a Thief”! I guess any modern, contemporary “Cary Grant“-type of person would enjoy it. Sitting right next to me while I shift gears and drive that F1 track!

Notes: lemon, marjoram, rosemary, cedar leaf, absinthe, patchouli, cashmeran, cedar, musk.

The longevity of all EDP described is moderate to long-lasting on my skin (tested in conditions of extreme heat!), with moderate to strong sillage: noticeable, but never shouting. 100 ml bottles/195 EUR, for points of sale list please check out Atelier des Ors web page here.

Well, thank you Atelier des Ors for bringing back sweet memories: this time I didn’t have to travel far, just down the memory lane. There’s a catch, though: now I wish to return as soon as possible.

Next Summer…see you there!💙

The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic
Photos: The Plum Girl, Atelier des Ors
Samples were graciously provided by Atelier des Ors at Esxence Milano, opinions of my own.
Disclaimer

Here I go again, back to Grasse!

The second time in three years, to be exact, spending my vacation there, already feeling a bit like a Grassoise.

What does Grasse smell like? Jasmine, of course. Sprayed above the old medieval streets all day long:

This time we rented an apartment in a lovely old Provencal house on the hill facing Musee International de la Parfumerie (International Perfume Museum), 300 m away from the center of the city.

Which seems fine, the view from our bedroom window was amazing, but…going downhill was like a five-minute walk.

Going back home? Well, let me just say that it took me up to fifteen legs’n’gluteus exercise minutes…

As a perfume lover, of course I stayed in Grasse. I noticed that numerous tourists don’t stay in the town. There are organized tours from all the bigger cities along Cote d’Azur, offering half-day or one-day excursions to Grasse. Meaning that at 10 AM you can quietly sip your coffee or tea on the main square -Place aux Aires, but all of a sudden, buses and trains enter the city and the invasion of one-day tourists begins, ending usually around 5 PM and leaving jasmine sprayed, old cobbled streets empty and quiet again.

I did manage to visit some new perfume shops and boutiques in town, besides the well-known Fragonard-Galimard-Molinard trio (will tell and show you more in one of my next blogs, stay tuned).

I also must say that I do need to return again: there’s so much to see and to do that you cannot possibly cover everything in ten days! And I am talking about Grasse only, let alone all the wonderful and amazing sights and places in Riviera’s Maritime Alps region! I am already making a „must see“ list for my next visit…

Any season is the perfect time to visit Grasse, but I do think that May is probably perfect timing if you need more peace and quiet and days that are not too hot. And Rose Centifolia experience: that divine, fruity, deep, oh! So a special rose!

Summer months of June, July and August are packed with various events in the city! On 3rd, 4th and 5th of August you do not want to miss Fete du Jasmin (on my first day in Grasse) and on August 12th a celebration dedicated to Tuberose took place.

Make sure to check out events on the list of the International Perfume Museum (MIP): they have a great offer of perfume workshops on a daily basis. I had a difficult time to chose between Accord Aromatique, Poudre, Epice (Les epices de l’Arabie), Musque, Agrume, Boise, Gourmand workshops– one for each day in a week.
You can also make your own perfume there, booking in advance is obligatory and the price is 60 EUR (one adult person, 100ml). Or arrange your private visit or a private event for professionals, book a workshop for children on Friday mornings – they can create their own eau de cologne!

MIP offers tours to MIP Flower gardens on Saturdays (4 EUR): this was a recommendation given to me by Jessica Buchanan of 1000Flowers: you just have to see, touch and feel fields of different flowers, depending upon the season of the year, right here, in Grasse.
The MIP olfactory route in Gardens allows you to discover notes used in perfumery and includes fragrant plants grown in Grasse.
Along the way, you can touch fragrant foliage or smell the flowers near your path.

In the „Conservatory“ you can learn more about the history of the perfume plant industry in Grasse: the first plants were wild orange from Italy, lavender, cassia from the mimosa family, myrtle and pistachio mastic.

From the 17th century onward, these three plants become major ones: jasmine rose and tuberose.

Today, there are not so many rose fields as you might imagine: some rose centifolia is still grown in Grasse through a partnership between Chanel and Mul family in Pégomas, or in Le Labo fields. I asked: it’s not easy to get a job or even volunteer as in rose fields: the collaboration between field owners and pickers is many years long, pretty closed and pickers are usually Gipsies (Gitanes), from a clan called „La Fleur“, so I am told. There are other growers in the region. I will continue to try to find a way to spend one week in May in Grasse, picking roses (I’m perfectly aware there’s nothing romantic about it, don’t worry…)!

When in Rome, pardon Grasse…I decided to book a visit and make my own perfume (again). To make your own perfume in Grasse, the cradle of perfumery? It is educational and so much fun! If you are into perfumes, this is really a must-do!

I love looking at my companions sitting at perfume organs during workshops: a mother, discussing notes with her daughter to make her a perfect birthday present. A couple, mixing and laughing together, creating a bridal perfume (they are getting married as soon as they return to States) and so on!

It’s great to see people trying to learn more about perfumes. They are showing interest and devoting their time – to perfumes, trying to express their creativity in given circumstances and offered possibilities. People attending these workshops have an opportunity to learn the basics of building a perfume structure, smell different notes, blend, use pipettes and experiment with proportions, have a real hands-on experience of perfume making! I think this is simply wonderful and I wish that even more people would want to devote their time and energy to learn more about perfumes! What a wonderful world this would be!

Perfume geeks, like me, doing…well. I’ll tell you, a little later on.

Let me give you basic info first, classics. You can book your “make your own perfume” workshop at:
Galimard. Offering Haute Couture Perfume Creation Workshops in Grasse (and Eze) where you work with their Master Perfumer in her lab. Prices range from 200-800EUR or you can attend the Studio des Fragrances workshop, in small groups, by appointment, 53 EUR per person. (2hrs, 50ml). 127 notes organ.
Fragonard. Perfumer Workshop, 90 minutes, 100 ml. You also receive a pouch for your perfume and an apron. 65 EUR.
Molinard. L’Atelier des Parfums. 60 minutes, 90 bottles organ, 50 ml, 69 EUR. Le Petit Parfumer, for children, too. La Villa du Perfumer is a private perfume creation session.

No matter which house you choose, you will go through a similar process. My choice was Galimard, both times, simply because it is the oldest house and because their organ features 127 notes/accords. Maybe also because you can create a line of products, like body cream and shower gel, too. Next time I visit, I will probably choose Molinard. And then Fragonard. 😀

Your formula stays recorded in their archives and you can always order another bottle – if you really like your creation you can get a refill.

So, there I go again. During a perfume making workshop in Galimard lab, I made my first perfume, three years ago. Pretty, but not exceptional. This time, I came prepared.

You see, I do have ideas about a five to six perfumes (at least) I would like to make or have made for me. These ideas are not expressed by notes or perfume groups, no, I have vivid images in my head. Memories, moments, little bits and pieces of emotions. Some are like paintings on canvas, some are vivid and bright like short movies in glorious Technicolor…

Then I think about these images and try to translate them into notes and accords in perfume language. The keyword is trying. 😀 Don’t expect too much.

Galimard has a very pragmatic approach, as all the others I mentioned/ perfumes and notes are strictly divided in „for her“ and „for him“ groups:

You have 127 notes to play with, which is fine in my opinion for this level of perfume making.

A really lovely young lady helped me with proportions. She told me that she is a student of chemistry in Lyon and that she comes to work at Galimard every summer. I know I might have taken too much of her time at the workshop because I really wanted her to hear my story first, before pushing me to start sniffing and choosing max five top notes or accords…and then other 4-5 middle ones, and 4 base ones…

This young lady was really patient, but the supervising lady approached me a couple of times to warn me that I’m running behind scheduled time in the process and that I should hurry up. I swear I had a feeling that she would be even harsher if I were an apprentice there…

There’s more. At one moment I wanted to add a very specific fruit accord to a leathery tone and received a really scorning gaze: you do not want to do that, kind of look. 😀

Alas, she hasn’t heard my olfactory memory this perfume was supposed to bring back… I think that she didn’t really like my pretty rebellious attitude in the sense of not blindly listening and following her suggestions.

I did pretty well, I think. Not that is exactly what I wanted/imagined/dreamed of, but here it is: „Once Upon a Time“!

Now I have to wait for 3 weeks for it to mature, in a not too dark, not too light, not too humid, not to dry, not too hot and not too cold place.

New blog, part II will follow!

Elena Cvjetkovic
The Plum Girl Blog
Photos: The Plum Girl
Disclaimer

It’s funny how my mind works. Keeps surprising me. US Election day is just around the corner, a friend arrived in Washington DC recently and sent me a photo of the White House yesterday and there I was – thinking about perfume. The one I enjoyed just a week ago.

The story behind this perfume revived images of Antibes from my 2016. summer trip to Côte d’Azur. It was a hot sunny August day. I just took a right turn off the A8, driving towards San Juan Les Pins. Roof down, fresh air coming from the park of nature and golf terrains, fresh Mediterranean Sea breeze playing with my hair. I thought, yeah, he might have felt just the same and why am I thinking in black&white right now? Well, because it was 1937.

imageAnd the perfume? Well, it brought back memories of my early corporate days. Being a young woman at the beginning of my career, struggling to be taken seriously in spite of her youth, I might have used this very perfume on a daily basis.

The perfume is Eight&Bob 100ml EDT Spray.

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The Eight&Bob story goes like this:
In 1937. a young college student from a wealthy family, aged 21, toured Europe with his friend, driving a Ford. His summer vacation included a stay on the French Riviera, Antibes, to be precise.
While wandering around the popular resort, openly and straightforward as any young American would have done, he started a conversation with a Frenchman about the fragrance he was wearing. The young American’s name was JFK.

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The man he was talking to was Albert Fouquet, who liked to experiment in perfume-making. As the story goes, Fouquet left a fragrance sample at JFK’s hotel with a note that said, “In this jar, you will find the dash of French glamour that your American personality lacks.” (I can imagine that text to be true 😎).
When Kennedy got back to the States, he sent Fouquet a letter saying that all his friends back home loved the fragrance, and asked the perfumer to send eight samples and “if your production allows, another one for Bob.” (Robert Kennedy.) Fouquet complied, and labeled the samples “Eight & Bob,” and a brand was born. In 1939, Fouquet died in a car accident. However, Philippe, the Fouquet family butler, had often assisted Fouquet in his perfume-making, so he took over the orders. When World War II started, Philippe hid the bottles inside books that he cut by hand so that the Nazis wouldn’t seize it.
After the war, Philippe never made the perfume again. The formula remained a well-kept secret. Eight&Bob recovered the formula and production process sixty years later and here it is, in cut out book packaging again. You can read their full story here.

50 years after his assassination, four different perfumers — Jockey Club, Creed Vetiver, the German cologne 4711 and the reissued fragrance Eight & Bob — all claim to have touched JFK’s skin. It’s a great story, but skeptics take note: The only hard evidence is that Kennedy really did visit France in 1937. Later on, there’s probably more proof that his collar occasionally held the scent of Chanel No. 5 (no further explanation needed, right?) than to any and all of the perfumes he might have used.

How did this perfume make me feel? It is a unisex perfume, to start with, make no mistake.
I would say is a fine “business day in an office perfume”, the one you would want to wear on executive board meetings. It could make you feel powerful, classy and ummmm…rich.
There have been many reviews written about it. Some say that it’s nothing special, some say that it reminds them of Fahrenheit32 and some call it a masterpiece.

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I would say it’s a winter/early spring perfume, a balanced and a fresh fragrance. It could make a great signature scent. It lasts and it lasts, for almost 12 hours. Does it smell “good”? Yes, with a citrus and spice opening, developing on my skin into an accord that feels like a cross between violet and iris (is that the famous Andrea ingredient?). Woods embrace this accord as cedar, sandalwood, and guaiac add depth. Eight & Bob stays refined with not overly sweet vanilla adding the final, classy touch. The packaging is superb! Yet again, as my thoughts rush, this one puts the new Eight & Bob perfume Cap d’ Antibes on my wish list.

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The story behind Eight&Bob might be true or false, whatever – just enjoy the perfume, write your own story! Now I wonder what fragrance shall be present in the Oval Office for the next four years? Soon we will know: enter “Empire” by DT or Thierry Mugler’s Angel? (Update: DT it is…)

The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Eight&Bob
Samples of Eight&Bob perfume provided by Parfumerija Lana
Disclaimer