Musée du Parfum: petals in flacons

Paris doesn't have the reputation of being the perfume capital of the world. This prize goes to Grasse, on the Côte d’Azur. But still, the French capital has been a kind of epicenter of the olfactory industry and therefore has its own Musée du Parfum.

La cour parfumée

It started all in the 17th century. Back then, the court of Louis XV at Versailles smelled so terribly (remember, they had no latrines) that they tried to cover the stench with lovely scents and that’s the reason, why the court got the nickname of “la cour parfumée”. So why not retrace the history of scent and perfume-making from ancient Egypt to today, instead of buying another flacon with a nice name and a colorful liquid inside that certainly will decay on your bathroom shelf?

Tons of petals

The museum is run by the perfumerie Fragonard, perfume makers since 1926 and synonym for a good and delicate odor. It is therefore free admission, but nobody will prevent you from buying some soaps or scents in the affiliate boutique – if you know what I mean. Opened in 1983, it occupies two levels of a 19th century Napoleon III townhouse close to Opera, which itself is worth a visit. It was actually a student of Garnier, the architect of the Opéra, who constructed it. The displays show everything you always wanted to know about perfume-making, even the answers to questions that never crossed your mind. You’ll learn everything about cultivation, extraction and boiling-down of essences. The moment you understand that it can take upwards of a ton of petals to extract less than a litre of essence, you’ll understand why perfume can be so awfully expensive.

A perfume organ

One of the fascinating exhibits is the orgue à parfum, or "perfume organ," so called because it resembles the keyboards of a seven-tiered cathedral organ with its tiered rows of ingredient bottles arranged around a balance or scale that the perfumer uses when mixing and testing fragrances. For those who have purchased a Paris Pass, you just will receive a gift at the end of your visit.

Musée du Parfum
9 rue Scribe 75009 Paris
Tel: +33 (0) 1 47 42 04 56
Métro: Opéra

Open from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm
On Sundays and holydays from 9 am to 5 pm