Best French Perfumes

Interested in the history of French perfume making? Want to know what are largely considered to be the best perfumes that money can buy? Our guide to the best French scents gives you the facts & information you want to know.

Perfume, that volatile substance that will weave a spell around you and leave you enthralled at a spot or running like a hare chased by hounds. The word perfume has its origins in the Latin phrase “per” meaning “through” and “fumus” meaning “smoke”.  Figuratively meaning “through the smoke ” of incense. It was the French that gave it the name “parfum”  which in English is “perfume”.

The use of perfume is over a thousand years old. The Egyptians were the first to include perfume into their religious rituals by burning incense to the Gods and this was followed by the ancient Chinese, the Indians, the Israelites, the Carthaginians, the Arabs, the Greeks and the Romans. Perfume was held in high regard even in Biblical times for we find in the Old Testament that Moses was commanded by the Lord to “take unto thee sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense:…. And thou shalt make it a perfume … pure and holy.”  And in the New Testament we find the Three Wise Men carrying gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to the infant Jesus and later on, Mary Magdalene anointing Jesus with sweet spices. Actually there are some two hundred references to aromatics, incense and ointments in the Old and New Testaments.

Perfume is made from essential oils obtained from plants. These are extracted by methods such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2) (the most gentle and the costliest) extraction; Pressing (oil from citrus rinds); Steam Distillation and Solvent extraction. These are mixed with fragrances, aroma compounds, fixatives and solvents. Although a single one can consist of tens to hundreds of ingredients, they can be grouped into four main groups: Primary Scents, Modifiers, Blenders and Fixatives. The mixing of them, by the best French perfume manufacturers, is a well guarded secret.

Best French Perfumes

Although the French have taken a back seat in fashion design, they still reign supreme in the making of perfumes. It is but natural that they should, since they have a solid three hundred year old pedigree behind them. The best French perfume, and for that matter, all French perfumes are luxurious, sensual and refined and last longer than most other perfumes. Located about 15 Km. North of Cannes in the French Riviera is the town of Grasse, which has been manufacturing French perfume for the past four centuries. It houses the Musée International de la Parfumerie (the International Museum of Perfume).

The best French perfumes could be said to be that of “Chanel No. 5″ by Coco Chanel and “Joy” by Jean Pateau. Chanel No. 5 was fashioned for Coco by Ernest Beaux. An interesting anecdote related to this perfume which contributed to its popularity is that Marilyn Monroe is supposed to have said that it is the only perfume that she wears to bed.
Joy was launched in the early thirties and is known in the national and international market as the costliest perfume in the world and an ounce of it is reputed to be made from over 10,000 jasmine flowers ad 28 dozen roses. It is packaged in a crystal Baccarat Bottle.

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