Perfumes are one of France’s top ten exports, so it is only fitting that two new museum attractions in the French capital are scentsational.
Hymn to perfume
Set inside a 19th-century mansion (formerly Christian Lacroix’s haute couture house) in the elegant 8th district is Le Grand Musée du Parfum. Opened at the end of 2016, the museum is already a must-smell with tourists.
Visitors sniff their way through three sections starting in the basement. After a detailed description of the origins of perfume, the journey continues to the 1st floor and into a sensory immersion where interactive exhibits educate about the emotional power of smell.
Further upstairs, the pièce de résistance is a light and sound installation where lasers stream out, each representing a different scent. Diane Thalheimer, the museum’s olfactive profiler, explains that the Perfume Organ, created by Jason Bruges, was designed so that fragrance notes translate into musical notes. “You smell what you hear,” she adds. Entrance is €14.50.
Le Grand Musée du Parfum, 73 rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré. grandmuseeduparfum.fr
Oh là là
Near the Palais Garnier (Opéra de Paris) is the smaller Fragonard Musée du Parfum. And although the museum is tied to perfumery Fragonard, the branding is rather subtle. Opened in 2015, the museum is an ode to the founder’s collection of perfume paraphernalia.
The guided tour starts with theory (from flower fields to extraction to the laboratory process) and winds its way to Fragonard’s largest retail store. There, staff train willing patrons about the various notes combined to create a fragrance – care of Fragonard, of course. Contrary to popular belief, one does not clear the nose palette by sniffing coffee beans. Instead, it is recommended to sniff oneself!
Entrance is free, however for €95 every Saturday the museum holds workshops where guests create and take home a personalised scent.
Fragonard Musée du Parfum, 3-5 square de l’Opéra Louis Jouvet. fragonard.com/en
Text by Shelly Nyqvist Photos by Museums
This article is published in the April 2017 issue of Blue Wings.