Top 5 Parisian perfumes

Paris is the capital of style and fashion and it also has some of the best perfumes in the world. These iconic fragrances are part of this je-ne-sais-quoi that make the Parisian women so elegant and attractive. If you want to find your own Parisian fragrance, follow my guide of the top 5 Parisian perfumes!

N°5, Chanel

Top 5 Parisian perfumes

Numéro 5 is the most iconic Parisian fragrance of all time. When it was created by Ernest Beaux in 1921, it was a real revolution. At the time, most fragrances would smell like a single flower (we call them “soliflores”). But Coco Chanel asked for a mix, a fragrance that would be unnatural and fabricated, “artificial like a dress”. It is also a perfume that should fit every woman as well as a haute couture gown. Out of two series of ten samples, she chose the fifth and launched it on May 5, which was a sign of good luck according to Coco. Quickly, it became very renowned, and especially among stars. In 1953, when Marilyn Monroe was asked what she wore to sleep, she answered: “Why, Chanel No 5 of course!”.

N°5 is an elegant and mysterious fragrance, an icon of French luxury and sensuality. It is a deep flower bouquet, made of ylang-ylang and neroli. The flowers later reveal a warm heart of vanilla, sandalwood and vetiver, that give majesty to this iconic fragrance.

As it was made almost a hundred years ago, it feels quite different from the modern perfumes we are used to. If you prefer something more contemporary, you can pick another version of Numéro 5, L’Eau. It is a younger rewriting of the myth, with vivid and fresh citrus zests in the first breeze. Then the emblematic bouquet is sweetened by rose and jasmine.

Shalimar, Guerlain

Top 5 Parisian perfumes - shalimar

Shalimar is the most famous, and probably the most sensual and fascinating oriental perfume. Jacques Guerlain said he was inspired by the legendary love story of the Indian princess Mumtaz Mahal, adored by her husband the Emperor Shah Jahan. For her, he created the magnificent gardens of Shalimar, and when she died, he built the Taj Mahal to be her mausoleum. Guerlain recreated the fragrance of the oriental garden, named Shalimar, which means “abode of love” in sanskrit… When it came out in 1925, it was a huge success and became the real embodiment of French femininity. It is the fragrance that you smell in the Parisian theaters and restaurants, that floats behind elegant ladies walking in the Champs Elysées. Rumor has it that after World War II, GI’s were queueing to bring a bottle back to their fiancées…

This fragrance is the embodiment of a voluptuous and bewitching femininity. A bergamot note quickly leaves room to a rich iris and patchouli bouquet. The appealing strength of Shalimar comes from its strong heart of vanilla, tonka bean and opoponax.

This sugary arousing fragrance also has a lighter version called Parfum Initial, with ambery floral notes. The bergamote freshness is more consistent, but the vanilla notes are still as addictive as its predecessor.

Miss Dior Original, Christian Dior

Top 5 Parisian perfumes - ms-dior

This timeless floral fragrance is Christian Dior’s first perfume, created in 1947. Dior said: “I created this perfume to clothe every woman in exquisite femininity, as though each of my gowns were emerging, one by one, from the bottle”. He created the concept of an association between clothes and perfume. Miss Dior is the embodiment of the bold and elegant femininity that the haute couture brand invented. The name of it is also a tribute to Christian’s beloved sister, Catherine. She was a discrete courageous young woman, and she took part in the French Resistance during World War II. Just like Christian, she was in love with flowers and owned rose fields in Provence.

This fragrance is a romantic ode to boldness and impertinence. The first notes of very refined galbanum essence make room to the rest of the bouquet. Rose, neroli, jasmine, narcissus and carnation frame the heart of this flower explosion. Patchouli and sandalwood give audacity to this iconic perfume.

The bottle itself is designed as a haute couture dress, with a houndstooth pattern and the iconic bow. Miss Dior has several successors. Miss Dior Le Parfum adds acidulous notes to the original bouquet, with orange blossom and Sicilian mandarin. The pink range, Blooming Bouquet and Absolutely Blooming, personify a playful and charming romanticism. They add notes of peony and berries to the rose and jasmine base, making them perfect fragrances for young ladies.

Flower, Kenzo

Top 5 Parisian perfumes - kenzo

Although more recent, Flower by Kenzo is one of the top Parisian perfumes since 2000. It is the expression of a new urban femininity, both strong and fragile. Kenzo wanted to bring delicacy and sensibility to the modern city life. That’s why he chose the poppy. It is a passion red flower that boldly arises, but also loses its petals at the first wind. The bottle embodies this fragile alliance of nature and modernity. Made as a slender glass tower, with refined lines, it bends just a little to welcome the delicate flower.

Poppy doesn’t have a fragrance, so Kenzo decided to offer it one. The first notes are sweet rose and violet. Then the heart is a rich and swathing mix of incense, black pepper and pink berry. Finally, the last notes reveal an unexpected oriental base, made of musk, opoponax and vanilla. Flower is definitely a peculiar perfume, and not everyone will love this fragrance. It has a powdery effect, just like vintage cosmetics. Flower smells like your grandmother’s lipstick, it is incredibly sweet and comforting.

Flower has a few derivatives. L’Elixir is more profound, more sugary too. It has notes of raspberry and praline that make it gourmand and addictive. L’Eau de Lumière is a little bit fresher, very modern, thanks to the notes of bergamot and pear. It could be the best perfume for a bride if you plan to do your wedding in Paris.

Opium YSL 1977 (VM)

Top 5 Parisian perfumes - opium

Opium was a revolution and a scandal when it came out in 1977. In the 1970s, floral and fresh perfumes were really fashionable. But Yves Saint Laurent decided to bring back the orientals in Paris, and he created Opium. The name of it quite shocking at the time, as well as the promotion. It was presented as a real drug, an addictive fragrance that women couldn’t do without. It was even forbidden in China and Saudi Arabia. Nowadays, there is still something to the name, although it is not as scandalous as it used to be. Opium is the perfume of a mysterious and attractive woman, with a bewitching fragrance trail.

The first notes are a bit fruity, with tangerine and plum. But they quickly leave room to a rich, spicy heart. The ylang-ylang is very sensual and heady, while the association with clove and cinnamon make it warmer and savory. Finally, the tenacious notes of patchouli, sandalwood and vanilla give a woody atmosphere to this almost intoxicating fragrance.

Now you know which are the top 5 best perfumes in Paris! You will find them easily, for example in one of The Top 5 Places To Shop In Paris. Now that you smell like a real Parisian, how about learning How to dress like a Parisian?

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