It’s all Chagall’s fault… So you go to Chagall’s Villa in Nice. You are still full of impressions when browsing through things in the museum shop on the exit. You willy-nilly grab a few of violet-themed souvenirs and then your whole car smells like violets for hours and you know: this phenomenon certainly deserves a deeper examination.
No surprise I spent the whole evening googling (fortunately my obsession to always check the fragrance manufacturer to see whether it is not missing from our parfumanie.cz database helped this time again) and driving to the mountains right the next morning.
And it was worth it. Gorges du Loup (Wolf’s Gorge) is an incredibly beautiful, rugged mountain gorge, rising ever deeper into the mountains. The highest part with canyons and waterfalls is a national park, but since I had other goals in front of me, I did not stop there. In any case, driving through and past it was impressive. Pulling along the two-way mountain road of a normal one-way street width, with tens of meters deep ravine on one side and a rock wall protected by a rock net on the other, is definitely an experience in itself.
The first of my goals was to try to find Jehanne Rigaud company, non-existent to my best knowledge for at least a decade if not more, but the fact that it is listed as a producer on one of the fragrances I obtained at Chagall, I had a strong need to confirm. Almost detective work produced two possible addresses. On the first one I found only a street with family houses, but on the second address, there is a large perfume industrial park of V. Mane.
There I did not dare to charge the entrance. Moreover, it did not look like there is anything for the general public, so I just stood there for a while in the parking lot, relishing in the idea of what might be bottled there right at the moment (V. Mane concern produces fragrances for Armani – including Private Collection, Trussardi, Ferragamo, Jo Malone, Jean-Louis Scherrer, Viktor & Rolf, Nuxe…), and then set off.
Through the delightful tiny village of Le Pont du Loup, named after an incredible gorge bridge, now partly in ruins (the bridge, not the village), which houses the historic factory of the famous Confiserie et Chocolaterie Florian (well, yes… on the way back I naturally stopped here, tour the factory and stocked up 🙂 …) I have already headed for my main goal.
I have no clue how the inhabitants made their living before the perfume industry came to Grasse, according to the selection of goat’s milk products and the position on the rocky hill I assume that they raised goat, but they certainly smelled the chance in the arrival of perfumery (a certainly very hard task being close to all the goats !!!) and started growing violets. Violet essence was one of the most expensive in the world, still in the pre-war period it could cost over $ 10,000 per kilo, so expensive that it was substituted by the iris root, or various mixtures of other ingredients, which more-or-less imitate the smell. Therefore, the violet fragrances were, until the invention of the ionone, which is currently used as a violet substitute today, were among the most luxurious.
Of course, after the ionone invention, the importance of the Tourettes has fallen, but they have remained loyal to violets. They admit that they use ionones in perfumes too, and for the perfume industry they supply the essence of violet leaves , but you can still buy cosmetics with real violets, and since real violets are still being used in the food industry, a lot of fantastic violet delicacies can be bought – from sweets, lollipops, candies, calissons, syrups, jams, to teas.
There is a violet festival every March in the town and I definitely hope that I will be able to visit it one day.
So I left a small fortune there for all possible violet things (just for those lollipops I will have to return – the kids are going to tear my hands off for them), smelled as much perfumes as I could – which was not easy to compare violet soliflers to each other, and left for the ride back to pass the narrowest sections of the road still in the daylight.
Various violet scents
From the abundance of violet scents in all possible brands, concentrations, sizes and shapes of bottles, I finally chose the following three:
Le Blanc – Violette – very nice, albeit with a bit artificial appearance, which may be caused by the connection with jasmine.
Le Jardin d’Elen – Un Air de Violette – really very true violet.
And the ultimate winner is the smell that actually brought me there. Violet “La Tourettane” by Jehanne Rigaud, resp. Honore Payan, who, as was confirmed to me by the locals, really bought the company about twelve years ago, but he releases the original fragrances under the original name. I bought Eau de Parfum and Solid and both have listed both manufacturers.
It is very interesting how big the difference in the smell there can be in the two forms of the same fragrance.
Jehanne Rigaud / Honoré Payan: La Tourettane (solid) – Violet fragrances as I usually know them are powdery-violet, candy-violet, fruity-violet, flowery-violet, green-violet, alternatively forest-violet, where the violet is ripped whole with a lump of soil and even a small part of the local woodland. This one is different. It’s … a creamy violet. The finest cream intensely scented with a violet scent, you have almost a desire to lick your hand, or to throw yourself straight on to the whole solid. It is not sweetened. It is pleasant, explicitly nice, uncomplicated and yet elegant. It is basically a soliflor, so it does not develop much, but it holds for hours, which is a very good performance for this type of fragrance.
Jehanne Rigaud / Honoré Payan: La Tourettane (EdP) – begins with a not quite appealing alcohol-violet introduction, very similar to the beginning of La Violette by Annick Goutal. Then, on the skin, it attempts something not very successfully, then it packs its stuff, unwinds and disappears. And as I stayed disappointed that I didn’t imagine it this way, after a half of an hour I felt it again. It demonstrated a perfect perfume resurrection, this time in the full beauty, a creamy violet, practically the same as in a solide. And it also holds quite well, only about half an hour shorter than the solid.