February 25, 2017
The Grand Musée du Parfum (Photo Pierre-Constantin Guéros©)
On rue Saint-Honoré very close to the French Presidential Palace and the beautiful five stars hotel “Le Bristol” the Grand Musée du Parfum opened last December. In this pristine Haussman style building, elegantly renovated, it tells the story of Modern Pefumery on 5 floors. What I liked the most about the Grand Musée du Parfum is that it highlights quite well what the perfumery industry is today.
Perfumer Dominque Ropion (Photo Pierre-Constantin Guéros©)
A large part of the exhibition gives a voice to renowned perfumers and doesn’t hide any of the aspect of modern perfumery especially the use of chemicals and the GC analysis.
antique flacons from the drom fragrances collection (photo Le Le Grand Musée du Parfum INSTAGRAM @ grandparfumdumusee
The journey begins in the basement with the history of perfumery through iconic couples and important moments in perfume of ancient times (Egyptian Kyphi recipe, Cleopatra and Marcus Aurelius, Casanova, the “Eau des 4 voleurs” and the traditional “Habit du Parfumeur-Gantier”. Elisabeth de Feydeau tells us about more than 2000 years of scents. The beautiful bottles some of them dating back to Roman time, are presented like jewels and thanks to the Storp family, the diversity of bottles presented is amazing. One of my favorite, even when I was working with drom in Germany and had the chance to visit the Flacon museum is this beautiful ceramic bottle featuring a monk hiding a young lady in his basket.
Inside a Perfumer’s Head Exhibit (Photo Pierre-Constantin Guéros©)
Going up the beautiful stairs, you enter a series of modern and bright rooms explaining all the aspects of perfumery, especially ingredients both natural and synthetic through beautiful vitrines featuring the human brains and the way perfumer perceive scents in their cortex, the chemical reactions leading to Galaxolide for example or the difference between natural, nature identical and artificial molecules.
Alice in Wonderland” Scent Gardens (Photo Pierre-Constantin Guéros©)
Then a very “Alice in Wonderland” Scent Gardens showcases different smells coming from flower shaped pipes…For a perfumer, quite easy to recognize but for the general public a lot of fun.
Smelling Raw Materials (Photo Pierre-Constantin Guéros©)
The last rooms are the most impressive especially the piece of art showing a few dozens of raw materials (patchouli, sandalwood, aldehydes) in a spectacular setting.
Smelling Tool (Photo Pierre-Constantin Guéros©)
You can take balls in your hand that both deliver scent and an explanation on the raw material in different languages.
Perfumer Patricia de Nicolai (Photo Pierre-Constantin Guéros©)
Throughout the museum you can watch interviews of perfumers in front of their computer or in their lab, speaking of their inspiration, work process or childhood memories with Dominique Ropion, Patricia de Nicolai and Mathilde Laurent representing fragrance supplier, independent and in-house perfumers.
The Shop at Le Grand Musée du Parfum (Photo Pierre-Constantin Guéros©)
A small library and a perfume shop welcomes you as you leave the Museum. For me, as a professional perfumer, this is the only disappointing part of the visit. The Bookshop is not extensive enough and I own two thirds of the books… and the perfume shop, although very trendy and impressive, doesn’t sell any exclusive perfumes, or fragrances that represent the collection s and on exhibit at the Museum.
Le Grand Musée de Parfum Smelling and Hearing Room (Photo Pierre-Constantin Guéros©)
But overall, this is an amazing experience I highly recommend all lovers of fragrance and olfaction visit next time you visit our beautiful city.
–Pierre-Constantin Guéros, Guest Contributor and Perfumer at Symrise Paris
Editor’s Note: Pierre was recently featured as an expert in our article What is Cheap Perfume. He has also written an Event Report on the 25th Anniversary of the Osmetheque and of his experience as a French Perfumer in the Middle East 1000 Days in Dubai