Monday, August 2, 2021

A Look Into the Enchanting Fragonard Musée Du Parfum in Paris

Our olfactory system works in strange ways. It draws tangents for us that others often find impossible to understand. When you bring Fragonard Musée du Parfum into the mix, you will be transported to a different world. A smell can transport us back in time and make us relive important moments of our lives. For some, “home” smells like chocolate chip cookies and for others, lime and pine may be the welcoming aromas that speak of cozy snuggling into bed. Out of the five major senses, the sense of smell is perhaps the most mysterious.

Fragrances are also associated with love. Be it the scent of roses or other more exotic flowers from a bouquet that our loved ones have presented us with, we take in the smell and can feel the love hidden in the petals.

And when we speak of “love”, we immediately get an image of a night sky that is lit with the fairy lights wrapped around the Eiffel Tower. Yes, Paris – the City of Love – has been the epitome of love and the home of lovers looking to bond better.

The Fragonard Musée du Parfum, Paris

The history of perfumery is as interesting as the notes that are often mixed to create intangible feelings. While France is revered for being the home of the best perfume makers, the origin of perfumes began in ancient Egypt and traveled to Europe with the Arabs in the 14th century. Since then, fragrances have been synonymous with Paris, France. Some of the best and most renowned fragrances have been created by the French. Among them, one name that stands out is Fragonard. It is one of the oldest perfumeries, and now they have a museum that presents to the world a collection of scents that are bound to open doors to parallel universes.

Traditional equipment used for perfume distillation for the production of perfume in Fragonard factory.
Stills for steam distillation of perfume extracts, Fragonard Musée du Parfum. (Image: via Dreamstime.com © Carabiner)

The Fragonard Musée du Parfum is located in the Opéra Garnier quarter of Paris. The history of the museum is as unique as its concept. After WWI, Eugene Fuchs decided to charm tourists with the power of a beautifully crafted fragrance, and thus, in 1926 the Parfumerie Fragonard was established. It was with Jean-François Costa’s help that the firm was modernized and the first perfume museum was opened, showcasing his art collection related to the history of perfumery in 1983.

Visiting the Fragonard Musée du Parfum

Whether you are a couple in love visiting Paris or a single person on a road to self-discovery, you should incorporate the perfume museum into your activities list. You can reach the place by a subway ride to the Opéra metro station. It is only a block or two away at 9 rue Scribe in the 9th Arrondissement.

This quaint building is free to visit and anyone who wants to experience the journey of fragrances throughout history will have a field day. Each tour lasts for about 25 minutes and you are given a brief but interesting take on the history of perfumery, the culture, and the impact that perfumes have on the world. You are also given a tour that tells you how perfumes are made.

Perfumery products for sale at the the Fragonard perfume boutique connected to the Fragonard Musée du Parfum, Paris, France.
After touring the museum, you exit through the Fragonard perfume boutique. (Image: via Dreamstime.com © Grzegorz Czapski)

In fact, anyone who has the dedication and the nose can become a maître parfumeur. You need to be able to mix scents in a way that reminds you of certain memories. For example, if you want to recreate the feeling of Sunday baking sessions from your childhood, you can take the popular flavors you remember, like strawberries, chocolates, etc., and mix them with vanilla and some more notes to come up with a scent that will always be your comfort zone. This is all about training yourself to recognize and memorize smells. Three institutes in Paris teach this art to students.

Another interesting fact is that women-centric perfumes date back to the 19th century. Before that, the scents were not pertaining to any gender. Rather, they were based on the seasons – mainly summer and winter. The tour ends with a visit to the fragrance store where you can see the iconic Fraonard scents packed in tin bottles. This is kept in memory of the tradition as when the perfumery was established, glass bottles were not heard of.

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Raven Montmorency
Raven Montmorency is a pen name used for a writer based in India. She has been writing with her main focus on Lifestyle and human rights issues around the world.
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