My memories of Paris in the springtime would take the form of a delicious new scent created by moi! But what would I call it?

Attending a workshop at L’Artisan Parfumeur in Paris was part of a group travel itinerary created by personal stylist Noelle Cellini. (Read more about her tours here. I highly recommend).

I decided to be clever and research the ingredients to my favourite perfumes before showing up for class. “Mais, non. You can buy that one.”  Our expert instructor wondered why I would want to try to duplicate another. Okay, you got me there. And she also noted that we would only be provided with a selection of about 28 ingredients out of the many more potential options so there were some limitations to the task at hand.

Seated at a long table, workstations were set up for each of we six students. By the end of the afternoon, we had counted out 500 drops of our top note (the fresh initial scent that evaporates quickly); 700 drops of middle or heart notes (the scent that emerges after the top notes dissipate); and 800 drops of our base notes (that lingering part of the scent). Drop by drop and under a watchful eye we carefully played chemistry with our favourite scents. Ahh, but it’s not so simple. Each ingredient reacts with the others, and with your skin, in varying ways. Only need a little of this one, but might need a lot of that one. I was thrilled to find cassis among the essences, the scent du jour that filled the lobby of the parfumerie via scented candles. That would be my top note. But more important was the base note. Hugely popular musk was one of the options and I have never liked musk. We learned that this was previously harvested from deer, no longer a legal practice and the ingredient is now manufactured. Hmmm, I quite liked this one. That would have to be it.

Creating our perfumes, one drop at a time.

Creating our perfumes, one drop at a time.

As we neared the addition of the final drops, we dabbed the insides of our arms with trial versions. Our perfume professeur dutifully sniffed us with great assuredness. She either agreed that yes, it suits you, or no, you can or should add a little more of this or that. Perfume reacts with our own natural aroma in subtle ways. With her approval, finally my signature scent was born.

Now it came time to adorn the pretty little bottles with a customized label. Hmmm, what to name it? I looked at my sister working away across the table. This was the first time that we had taken a trip together, just we sisters, and I loved her dearly. So this was easy. I dubbed it Ma Soeur (My Sister) and with that decision my label was prepared. And yes, it brought a tear to her eye. (Bam, nailed that one!) In naming her perfume, she combined her name with that of her granddaughter and created Annabella.

Perfume created at L'Artisan Parfumeur in Paris

Perfume created at L’Artisan Parfumeur in Paris

Et voilà, we left the laboratory with bottles tucked into little black velvet bags. We also left with our parfumerie notebooks.  These records of our exact formulas would be useful should we want our scents to be recreated and shipped to us – at a cost of 80 euros.

Finally, we shopped in the store, equipped with our newfound knowledge. I bought one of those luscious cassis candles, the inspiration for my scent!

What’s your signature scent? 

Personal Stylist Noelle Cellini

Personal Stylist Noelle Cellini, 2013

Delicious tip: Situated very close to the L’Artisan Parfumeur is the elegant rooftop restaurant, Kong, made famous by the finale episode of Sex and the City. With panoramic views, and a lovely lunch menu, I would highly recommend it. Prices are likely inflated due to its popularity.


Rooftop restaurant Kong in Paris. Featured in final episode of Sex and the City.

Read another post about this Paris trip here.