Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Paris According To The Husband

This installment of Smelling In Paris is brought to you by the Blond. As my sniffing companion he's always subjected to new perfumes (on my wrists and on his), weird samples that pop up everywhere and the unavoidable sales associate who tries to lure him into the fresh and citrus side and gets utterly confused when he asks for something with more character. Here's Paris According To The Husband:
Paris was fabulous as Gaia has been reporting here over the last few weeks. I'm adding my humble notes and observations on two of my favorite topics: perfume and food.

Dear perfume boutique owners, please invest in a good central air conditioning unit. The weather in September can and did range from the pretty chilly to the blistery hot in a matter of days. I just could not stand a stuffy, suffocating shop where as you walk in the smell is overwhelming. Even great perfume as in the Esteban boutique in the Marais, when not allowed to leave the room gets annoying. In several shops along our tour I just had to step out to breathe. Not to mention that with so many competing fragrances in a room you can't smell yourself.

Service was friendly in most shops with a notable exception at the Caron boutique where we got thoroughly ignored until I tried to venture up the stairway to the second floor and was shouted down from their apparently private area. Now I really have to wonder what is going on up there...

I'm officially ready for the post Oud era. I have nothing against this fine note but it is over. Done. Move on.

It was a little disappointing not to find any really local artisanal or small niche lines we have never encountered before other than Bois Richeux 1178 at the MPG boutique which was a nice surprise. IUNX boutique was also great, even if we left empty-handed. I would have liked and expected to see and smell more such things and less ultra-commercialized Annick Goutal. The ubiquitous Guerlain can literally be found on every street corner like Starbucks in Seattle.

It's been 3 years since our last visit to Paris but it seems like the number of Patisseries has doubled. Unfortunately, it does not seem like all newcomers keep the same quality and tradition you'd expect. some of the confections in fancy looking shops tasted as if they came from an NYC street cart. There are now multiple signs in the windows of patisseries to indicate that they are the real thing. some claim that their good are prepared and baked on premise, all claim to be artisanal. My rule eventually came to "find a really good one and stick with it". If anyone has better signs to distinguish the real deal from the pretenders I'd love to hear.

I wrote last time about eating vegetarian in Paris. Still not any easier in the land of foie gras and escargot . Thank god for vegetarian couscous.

Photo of the husband outside of Caron by me, of course.


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this perspective =P

  2. OK, I had to comment - kudos to Mr. Blond and how special is it that he participates in your olfactory adventures! My hubby eschews all scent other than boat, engine and dog...

  3. I have so enjoyed the Non-Blonde reports from Paris. And now the Blonde report as well! Thanks for sharing them. I have to confess I tend to give up my vegetarianism when I encounter places overseas where it's tough to be.

  4. It's very interesting to hear the male perspective. I can sympathise on the vegetarian in France issue. You may as well confess to being an alien species! Shocking really considering how beautifully they prepare vegetables. As a teenage vegetarian I was paired up with a farmers daughter for a French exchange....needless to say it didn't go well!

  5. No; the French are inveterate meat eaters. Good to do homework about the places you are going to visit and their habits.

    I love Caron!

  6. First, Mr. Blond, thanks for sharing your perspective with us. It's always interesting to see what impresses--good and bad--other travelers.

    I'm a vegan and find that when I'm traveling for any extended period of time, I sometimes have to go the lacto-ova route if I expect to get any significant protein into my diet. It seems that with the widespread availability of meat, fish, and fowl, many cultures have given up the notion of getting protein from grains and legumes. Too sad . . .

    I can't even imagine how horrible it would be to be in a stuffy, over-heated boutique trying to discover new scents. That is one thing I very much like about our boutiques here in SoCal--they keep those air purification systems humming!

  7. OMG so true about the air conditioning. What do the French have against the cold??? And don't get me started on how hard it was to find some damn ice in Paris.

  8. Great commentary! I end up eating chinese stir-fry and cheese pizza a lot in Paris, they are reliable vegetarian staples. As for Caron, the service is notoriously and consistently bad. I have totally given up on them.

  9. Great post thank you. My guideline for finding a good bakery in Paris is to go into the ones that have a line of Parisians out the door. Follow the crowds.

  10. "The ubiquitous Guerlain can literally be found on every street corner like Starbucks in Seattle." Love this post, Mr. Blond! ~~nozknoz

  11. Excellent post! Are you sure he's blond under that hat and glasses? I think you're holding out on us.

    Your lucky TB takes such an interest in fragrance. Mine actively hated it when we met, but I have retrained him to tolerate my favorites. I wish he loved the way I smell but he never says so. :(


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