The Perfume Museum Paris Reviews
Exploring the History of Perfume Mar 08, 2010
Paris is famous for its perfumes so I decided to visit the Perfume Museum, located near the Opera Garnier in central Paris. Housed in a 1860s townhouse, this museum is operated by Fragonard, a French perfumer, who is based in the south of France. The museum is free and all tours are guided.
In early societies, pure perfume was used in religious ceremonies, but 100% perfume would be much too strong to wear. The essence, which makes the perfume fragant, makes up about 25% of perfumes today, mixed with alcohols and waters. Fragrances are generally made from flowers, fruits and wood.
The museum exhibits are interesting, including powder bins and boxes of beauty marks from the 18th century. The placements of beauty marks transmitted secret codes to admirers, as for instance, certain marks meant a lady was single.
I was surprised to see large 18th century beauty boxes for transporting powders and perfumes. I wondered how these boxes survived the horse and carriage, as many of the containers were glass.
Some of the bottles on display are very elaborate, as a certain prestige was associated with the more ornate containers. I liked looking at the smelling salt containers as salts could be hidden in a ring or in glass tubes within a lady's corset to prevent fainting from corsets being too tight.
Becoming a perfumer requires six years of study, as perfume houses employ a "nose", who has a keen sense of smell. A nose does not drink, smoke or eat spicy food, as any of these activities can effect the smell.
While the tour itself is interesting, be warned that there is a sales pitch at the end. Visitors are given a "demonstration" of five Fragonard fragrances, which are not cheap. A small bottle of perfume costs 90 euros, which I quickly avoided.
If you are interested in perfumes, the Perfume Museum is good for a short visit. Just know what's coming at the end of the tour, as I always find a sales pitch offensive.
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