Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An American Blogger In Paris: A Visit To Cinquième Sens Perfumery School

A few days before my Paris trip I got an email informing me the French perfume school Cinquième Sens is about to open a NYC branch and will begin to offer classes this fall. This was very exciting to know, since there are very few other programs available for those who wish to get formal perfume training. A few emails back and forth and a visit to the Paris school was arranged.

Cinquième Sens is located very close to the Eiffel Tower. From the outside it looks like a regular office building with a store front, but when you step in you discover that the "store" is the main workshop area, where students in the last part of their training are seated with bottles, pipettes and other equipment and creating fragrances for their final project.

The school offers two courses: Technical and Cultural. The technical program is a hands-on training that includes chemistry, lab work and formulation classes that teach how to create and construct perfumes. The cultural course teaches fragrance appreciation, introduces the raw materials, analyzes the industry and its history and takes an in-depth look at the market and its bestsellers.

Some of the core classes are the same for both programs, and the best thing is that you don't have to register for the whole course. You can take the particular classes that interest you, after completing the basics and the specific prerequisites. Classes can be from one to eight days (some of the workshops are half days).

Perfumer Anne-Sophie Behagel who teaches some of the technical classes has showed The Blond and me around the school and was very kind to explain the curriculum and chat with us about perfumes, the market and the current trends. If you're a fragrance enthusiast, you know the thrill of meeting someone who shares this obsession and can discuss notes, noses and houses. It's even more exciting to talk juice with someone who is a real pro.

I think I gained a little perspective thanks to Anne-Sophie's insights. It's a little too easy to sit behind a computer, play with samples and become a (little obnoxious) niche snob. The reality is that it's the big names and the bestsellers that drive the industry forward, and while I'd still rather not wear most of them (and in certain cases I'd also prefer not to smell them ever again), it's in everyone's best interest to understand the market and the trends and to appreciate the work behind the top 20.

I'm giddy with excitement about taking the classes. I'll post more info as soon as I get the details. Would you be interested in this? Which one of the programs appeals to you?

For inquiries please contact Laëtitia Longuefosse
T: 212 686 4123
F: 212 686 4056
[email protected]

Photos: All mine.


  1. Sooooo jealous!

    If I could get a decent job in NYC...

  2. Did you ever take a class at Cinquieme Sens?

  3. I would dearly love to take this class in Paris (as I live in Norway and would rather go to Paris than NY). Does the email address above refer to the NY training, or the Paris one. Do you know if they offer classes in English in Paris?

  4. When I last emailed them (this was probably 6 months ago) they did not have definite dates for the NY classes. And I don't know if the Paris classes are in English. I am planning to take a class at Grasse Institute of Perfumery in Sept, because this seemed like more of a sure thing.

  5. I'm sorry but I don't have any details about upcoming classes. I attended one class at the NYC branch two years ago and greatly enjoyed it (there's a post about this somewhere on the blog).

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