Parisian Perfumeries – My Favourites And Top Tips

Parisian Perfumeries

Not that long ago, I spent a very lovely amount of time dabbling around in my fragrance collection.

We’re travelling again soon, and although I’m not in full packing mode yet, I’m certainly starting to think about the bits and pieces that will be joining me in France. (Side note: If packing is a chore for you, make sure you check out my Effortless Packing Masterclass).

As I was refilling my travel atomisers with my current favourite scents, I was reminded of how personal our perfume choices are.

The selection that sits on my own dresser certainly demonstrates that fact. Although I have one scent that I absolutely consider ‘my signature’ (it was made just for me), this doesn’t stop me from flirting with other perfumes as the mood strikes. Some days I’ll head towards a fragrance that I’ve returned to for decades (hello again Chanel No. 5. I’m sorry I said I was over you…). Other times I’ll reach for a relatively recent find.

France is the spiritual home of perfumery. For centuries the French have been making and wearing scents. Initially perfumes were used to mask the body odours that developed before regular bathing became popular. Eventually though they became more about attraction than distraction. Fragrance continues to play a key role in the French woman’s grooming routine and it probably comes as no surprise that Paris – with its massive range of Parisian perfumeries – is one of the best places on the planet to seek out a new fragrance – and for stocking up on the classics.

I haven’t quite decided whether I’ll trying any new fragrances while I’m in France. I’m actually pretty happy with my ‘scent wardrobe’ as it stands right now. But that said, even when I’m not in the market for something new, I still seem to end up wandering into at least one fragrance boutique while I’m in Paris. Even though, thanks to globalisation, I can buy my favourite scents from just about anywhere, I find Parisian perfumeries somewhat irresistible. The fit-outs are all stunning – what’s not to love about sparkling glass bottles filled with delicious scents? And while I’m happy browsing in almost any perfumery, I do have some Parisian favourites.

Three Of My Favourite Parisian Perfumeries

  1. Serge Lutens, Palais-Royal (staircase pictured above). Ring on the doorbell and step quietly into another world. Serge Lutens offers a huge variety of unique scents. I’ve always preferred Amber Sultan. I especially love it in winter.
  2. Guerlain, Champs-Élysées. Guerlain have been creating fragrances for a very long time now, and they certainly know what they are doing. Here you can buy classic scents which date back more than a century, or more modern day alternatives. I’m currently fascinated by L’Heure de Nuit, a reinterpretation of the famed L’Heure Bleue.
  3. Diptyque, 34 boulevard St-Germain. While Diptyque boutiques dot Paris, I do love a visit to the ‘original’ store. My recommendation is Oud Palao, the signature scent of a friend of mine. She always smells divine, and attracts compliments every time she wears this scent.

Top Tips For Purchasing Perfume – In Paris, Or Anywhere Else For That Matter

Researching a new for you fragrance is not for the faint hearted. You need patience and readiness for the fact that you are probably going to have to kiss a few frogs. Here are my top tips for selecting a new perfume.

  1. Don’t even think about rushing into a purchase off the back of a scent sprayed onto a piece of cardboard or because it smells great on a friend. You’ve got to test a fragrance on your skin for way longer than a few minutes to understand how it will work with your individual chemistry.  Our olfactory systems being what they are, something that smells sensational in one moment can leave you with nausea or a headache in the next. Take your time and live with a scent before handing over your cash.
  2. Avoid testing too many fragrances in one sitting. You’ll just get confused and overwhelmed. Reading reviews can be a good way to narrow down your choices prior to you heading into a boutique.
  3. Sometimes, before you set off on your quest, it can help to understand which ‘family’ your current favourite scents belong to. It can help to narrow down your search if you stick to categories you are already a fan of.  This list provides a good overview of the various families perfumes can be categorised into.
  4. Consider the sillage, or longevity, of the fragrance on your skin. Scents with staying power are often more complex and better value for your investment.

Are you like me – a lover of Parisian perfumeries? Do you have a favourite French scent? Or perhaps tips for choosing a new fragrance. I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.


Please note: this is an unsolicited post and no compensation of any kind has been received from the brands mentioned.

About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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2 thoughts on “Parisian Perfumeries – My Favourites And Top Tips

  • Alisa

    These are such good tips, Janelle, and so timely. Something that is just right in the winter can be too heavy for the coming summer, and as you say, the choice of a new scent is not made in an instant. Time to start thinking about whether last year’s summer scent still suits the person that i am this year.
    One of my favorite perfumeries in Paris is Annick Goutal. Her Eau d’Hadrien is a light citrusy scent – but still quite sophisticated, think grapefruit and not orange flower – that is perfect on a hot summer day, refreshing and bright.
    When I was much younger, Nina Ricci’s l’Air du Temps was my daily scent, but I feel as though something less sweetly floral better suits a woman of a certain age. Now I am liking Chanel 19, but YSL ‘Paris’ is a promising option, or Miss Dior, to introduce as a new everyday scent.
    (One thing that is maddening is the reformulation of many classic scents to attract a new audience. Arpège is an unfortunate example of that.)
    Thank you for a thought-provoking and practical post – your suggestion of prior research is particularly helpful to avoid feeling overwhelmed by those charming young women in French parfumeries who want you to know what you are looking for! A great resource is

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks Alisa. I love what you say about matching your scent to the woman you are today. I do think we grow and evolve and our fragrances should too. That said, I do tend to revert to my old favourites at different times – YSL Paris being one of those. Because I have my favourites, like you, I get incredibly frustrated when they are reformulated. I know they say they are trying to stay current for a new generation, but I find that younger people love classics too….