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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

Rab/Arba is a small island, 22 km long and located in the northwestern part of the Adriatic Sea/Croatia, very easy accessible from Rijeka or Zagreb. When you reach the ferry port Stinica, it’s a ten minutes ferry ride to Rab. When you approach the island, first what you see is mostly barren terrain -karst on the northeastern side of the island, while the southwestern side is covered by one of the last oak forests of the Mediterranean, justifying its name: the Illyrian-Liburnian word Arb meant „dark, obscure, green, forested“.

I have been visiting the island of Rab every year for the last five years, always at the same time: the end of June. I always look forward to this short retreat, four days refuge from busy everyday life. This is my friends- time, me-time: my bestie owns a house in Banjol, and she hosts our „Ladies Weekends“.

We read books, meditate, take long walks, discuss various subjects, cook, sunbathe, swim, talk a lot and sometimes just sit in silence or coach each other. Everything we do moves in flow, effortlessly and with ease. Oh yes, our weekend lasts four to five days!

I love islands, that much you already know about me. Why? Well, because most of them – when you move away from the busy ports and bigger cities – are still wild at heart, still without any light-pollution and never overcrowded.

What to I feel first when I step out of the car on Rab?
The scent of immortelle. Fields and fields of immortelle in karst. By the end of June, its blooming time is almost over, it’s the scent is not overly dense and overpowering. Warning: if you go picking immortelle flowers, do not pull. Cut. If you pull, you might pull out the whole plant with roots. Collecting immortelle is regulated by law, be kind to Nature and protect it!

Lavender. It is in full bloom. The scent of sea and pine trees rolling in gently with an evening breeze. Scorched red earth at noon. Laurel, olive, lemon and fig trees. The scent of palm trunks in the afternoon, suntan lotions and creams on the beach.

Oleander flowers, bright pink and deep red mostly. Sage, rosemary, and basil in the garden. A pitcher of lemonade on the table. Freshly baked cheesecake my friend just took out of the oven. My own skin, salty after swimming in the sea, hair becoming more and more curly after each swim…

While you are visiting the island, do try „Rapska torta“ – yes, this island has its own cake, made with almonds and Maraschino liqueur. There are many small shops offering chocolate with lavender, immortelle oil, lavender oil and differents products, olive oil, dried figs etc.

Visit the city of Rab: the town has a long history that dates back to 360BC. There are many churches and historical sights, Gothic and Renaissance palaces and the town itself is in the form of a ship. I personally do prefer to go there before June 15th (an unofficial start of the full tourist season…) but if you like big fieras, do not miss the medieval Festival (Fiera), held from 25th to 27th July, when Rab celebrates its patron St Cristopher.

Rab is called „The happy island“: it is perfect for a family holiday, hiking or biking trips, or lovers escape…as it is recorded that on the 11th of August 1936. King Edward and his future bride arrived at the island of Rab, anchoring right in front of Banjola beach.

They took a boat ashore where they were met with various dignitaries of the town of Rab and visited the sights. After the official part of the visit, King Edward and Lady Simpson got naked and dived into the sea in the bay of Kandarola on the Frkanj peninsula.

Naked swimming is still so much fun. On beaches marked “Nudists beach”, of course.

In the western part of the island, there are beaches with cliffs, in the southern part gravel shores and in the northern part there are many sandy beaches. The most famous one: Paradise Beach.

Summer, sea, sand and…Scents, scents, what were you thinking! 😀

And perfumes. I took with me one of my Acqua dell’Elba perfumes: Elba is a little bigger than Rab but really very similar. The Mediterranean climate, plants, trees and Nature tie these two islands more than either will ever confess 😀

Essenza di un isola – Acqua is a fragrance for women and men, great for hot weather and so compliant with surroundings on the island of Rab: salt and citruses, myrtle and jasmine with red algae, summery bright, light blue… It really smells exactly like my days on Rab! It’s kind of more Adriatic Sea related perfume than the rest in their collection…and during cold winter days it serves as a reminder of summer…for me, but my husband and son spray-on abundantly too 😀

I am a fan of Acqua dell’Elba perfumes ever since I visited Elba, you can read more about their perfumes and an interview with one of the owners here.

Since Croatia has more than 1000 islands, I don’t really think that I will report from each and every one I visit(ed): if you do, do let me know where did you go and what olfactory impressions did you take home!

The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl
Samples provided by: Acqua dell’Elba
Opinions of my own.