Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Parfums de Nicolai- Vie de Chateau Intense

'Vie de Chateau' translates to approximately to 'living the high life'. It's also the name of a 1966 Catherine Deneuve comedy (named here A Matter of Resistance), described on Rottentomatoes.com as
"Set in occupied France, the film stars Catherine Deneuve as the young and beautiful bride of middle-aged and homely Philipe Noiret. Disappointed at Noiret's indifference concerning the Nazi invaders, Catherine is swept off her feet by handsome Resistance leader Henri Garcin. Throughout the rest of the film, it seems as though the underground operatives and the German officers are more interested in bedding the bewitched Ms. Deneuve than in winning the war."

Thankfully, Patricia de Nicolai's creation,  Vie de Chateau Intense, was inspired by the idea behind the phrase-- the life of the landed gentry (think Lord Grantham, only in French and probably with better food), gentlemen of leisure and the like, sitting on their leather sofas in their smoking rooms. Officially, Vie de Chateau Intense is a masculine fragrance, but I have to tell you that from the ripe fruit opening to the honeyed dry-down, this Nicolai perfume fits me like a (leather) glove.

The only fruit on the official list of notes is grapefruit, which doesn't usually smell all that boozy. I'd believe it if you told me it's plum or peach just after they reached the height of ripeness. It's a note I've learned to appreciate and enjoy because it walks a dangerous line between sex and fermentation. For a minute it reminds me of YSL Champagne/Yvresse that plays a similar game. What comes after is a melange of clean grass and fresh hay with a green edge that balances the honeyed tobacco and leather notes before letting them take over the scene.

The dry-down is almost all sweet tobacco with only a hint of leather and a chocolaty patchouli. It remains close to the skin and feels quite intimate even when I spray with all I've got (and believe me, I do, since a) Vie de Chateau Intense is addictive, and, b) It requires a heavy hand if you want longevity). The initial sillage is good, but by the time the fragrance settles on skin and develops its warmth and depth you're fine to mingle.  Now, Vie de Chateau Intense (I assumed there's also a regular Vie de Chateau, but Parfum de Nicolai website doesn't show it ) is supposedly a masculine perfume. But I didn't know that until I looked it up, and frankly, I don't care. I fell for this one from the 10th second after I first tried it on. Vie de Chateau Intense is seductively rich and, well, intense. It's sweet and delicious, clings to coats and scarves. Of course I'd love it on a man, but I much prefer to be the one smelling like this.

Notes: fern, cut grass, oak moss, vetiver, tobacco, patchouli, grapefruit, leather, musk, hay.

Parfums de Nicolai- Vie de Chateau Intense ($65, 1oz) is available from Luckyscent, Osswald, MiN NY and Parfum1.com. Not all retailers stock the small size, but pnicolai.com offers a 250 ml refill (209 euro) if that's your thing.

Top image via myvintagevogue.com. Other photos related to the 1966 Vie de Chateau movie from various entertainment sites.


  1. Yes, there has been a regular Vie de Chateau for some time. I bought mine about 5 years ago and love it. It's very much as you describe, all leather, smoke and hay. I wonder if they just renamed it or this is a different formulation.

  2. It is a different formulation, in that the original Vie de Chateau is an "eau fraiche"; about 2/3 years ago they launched stronger concentrations of several PdN classics such as this one and Maharanih. Which makes me think that someone at PdN must be anosmic, because anyone who's ever smelled Maharanih (which I find absolutely magnificent) will tell you that it does not need to get any more intense than the original is!

    Sadly, the PdN website is known to work in strange ways. I emailed customer service twice looking for a particular perfume a few years ago, and they never replied! But for a perfume not to show up there doesn't mean it's discontinued; the original Vie de Chateau can be purchased online at First in Fragrance, for example.


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