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  1. #1

    Default Perfume houses based in the Faubourg Saint Germain?

    No, not the Hermes scent. I have been reading a novel of Balzac's lately, one of the many he set in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, where the restored nobility of the post-Napoleonic regime lived. Not that it was not a playground of palaces and the great houses before that - I seem to recall it playing a central part in Patrick Suskind's 'Perfume'. I was just wondering whether, apart from Hermes - who are probably the epitome of that place - there are any perfume houses whose headquarters may be found in that specific suburb?

    An auxiliary question, for anyone who would be amused to answer it (though if it is really just Hermes who are based there, the choice would be rather limited): what is your favourite fragrance made by a perfume house based in that suburb?

    Apologies if this is at all off-topic for this forum.

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    Default Re: Perfume houses based in the Faubourg Saint Germain?

    Hermes is based in Faubourg 24 Saint Honore. In Saint-Germain is Diptyque as far as I know.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Perfume houses based in the Faubourg Saint Germain?

    Ah, Saint Honore. That's interesting. Not even the same arrondissement.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Perfume houses based in the Faubourg Saint Germain?

    hello : )))

    Balzac's most famous perfumer César Birotteau in the novel "Histoire de la grandeur et de la décadence de César Birotteau" is deputy mayor of the old 2nd arrondissement (right bank), roughly equivalent to today's 1, 2, and 9th arrondissements (all on the right bank).

    I am a Parisian and elected representative of the 2nd (right bank), and in my opinion, the world of Parisian perfumery seems to historically exclude the aristocratic left bank. By exclude, I am speaking about the industry, the shops, the people revolving around that world. I by no means speak about the clientele, which would have been largely from the aristocratic 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th arrondissements.

    The famous "Lubin" had his shop on rue Sainte-Anne in today's 1st arrondissement, "Guerlain" on the Rue de Rivoli accross from the Royal Palace of the Tuileries. Both are situated in the right bank.

    The covered galleries or arcades (Vivienne, Véro-Dodat, Choiseul, Colbert, Grand Cerf, etc.) of the day, which typically housed luxury parfumeries, were mosty all situated in today's 1st and 2nd arrondissements (right bank).

    I'm afraid luxury parfumeries established on the left bank came in the XXth centuries, but certainly not in the days of Balzac

    Great thread, very interesting !!

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    Default Re: Perfume houses based in the Faubourg Saint Germain?

    Quote Originally Posted by maounmaoun View Post
    I'm afraid luxury parfumeries established on the left bank came in the XXth centuries, but certainly not in the days of Balzac

    Great thread, very interesting !!
    Interesting indeed. I wonder why this was the case.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Perfume houses based in the Faubourg Saint Germain?

    Quote Originally Posted by hednic View Post
    Interesting indeed. I wonder why this was the case.
    @Hednic :

    I think it has to due with the fact that the left bank, prior to Haussmann's destruction of the old Paris in the 1850's and 1860's, was a quiet and residential area, much like a suburb outside of a metropolis.

    Even Balzac says in his short story "Honorine": "la ligne des quais, rive gauche, n’est déjà plus Paris"

    which can be loosely translated as "the docks of the Seine on the left bank are no longer Paris"

    Secondly, historically the left bank has been coined "le noble faubourg" or the noble faubourg in honor of its aritocratic Faubourg Saint Germain district which housed numerous mansions and aristocrats. The road to Versailles (and the King prior to 1791) was shorter from the left bank then from the right bank where the number of bridges was nowhere near as numerous as today. Therefore it was a much easier journey for a nobleman to travel from the left bank to Versailles.

    Lastly, the business and luxury and financial hub of the city has always been, and continues till this day, to be in the right bank
    Last edited by maounmaoun; 16th May 2012 at 01:30 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Perfume houses based in the Faubourg Saint Germain?

    Thank you so much for your knowledge and insights, maounmaoun. They are much appreciated; you have refined my mental map of Paris.

    I had heard of 'the noble faubourg', which is why I assumed the Hermes' scent '24 Faubourg' alluded to it - "Could there be any other faubourg that need not go by its full name to be recognised?", I mistakenly wondered. Your explanation that it was then a quiet and residential area, not urbanised enough to accommodate the bustle of luxurious shops, makes sense to me. In addition to what you so interestingly quote, I recall that, in 'A Harlot High and Low', there was a 'forest of Saint Germain', large enough to have its own (game?) keeper. A forest would not fit a very urban part of the city.

    Well. I was after some scent from the noble faubourg to complement my reading, but now I know that this would not be appropriate, as its residents shopped in the arrondissements you kindly list. (Not that any perfume from the 1820s survives in any case.) Thank you again for your posts.

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    Default Re: Perfume houses based in the Faubourg Saint Germain?

    Quote Originally Posted by maounmaoun View Post
    hello : )))

    Balzac's most famous perfumer César Birotteau in the novel "Histoire de la grandeur et de la décadence de César Birotteau" is deputy mayor of the old 2nd arrondissement (right bank), roughly equivalent to today's 1, 2, and 9th arrondissements (all on the right bank).

    I am a Parisian and elected representative of the 2nd (right bank), and in my opinion, the world of Parisian perfumery seems to historically exclude the aristocratic left bank. By exclude, I am speaking about the industry, the shops, the people revolving around that world. I by no means speak about the clientele, which would have been largely from the aristocratic 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th arrondissements.

    The famous "Lubin" had his shop on rue Sainte-Anne in today's 1st arrondissement, "Guerlain" on the Rue de Rivoli accross from the Royal Palace of the Tuileries. Both are situated in the right bank.

    The covered galleries or arcades (Vivienne, Véro-Dodat, Choiseul, Colbert, Grand Cerf, etc.) of the day, which typically housed luxury parfumeries, were mosty all situated in today's 1st and 2nd arrondissements (right bank).

    I'm afraid luxury parfumeries established on the left bank came in the XXth centuries, but certainly not in the days of Balzac

    Great thread, very interesting !!
    Quote Originally Posted by maounmaoun View Post
    @Hednic :

    I think it has to due with the fact that the left bank, prior to Haussmann's destruction of the old Paris in the 1850's and 1860's, was a quiet and residential area, much like a suburb outside of a metropolis.

    Even Balzac says in his short story "Honorine": "la ligne des quais, rive gauche, n’est déjà plus Paris"

    which can be loosely translated as "the docks of the Seine on the left bank are no longer Paris" which is odd because the docks, or quais in French, mirror the docks of the right bank and can be considered the entry point to left bank Paris

    Secondly, historically the left bank has been coined "le noble faubourg" or the noble faubourg in honor of its aritocratic Faubourg Saint Germain district which housed numerous mansions and aristocrats. The road to Versailles (and the King prior to 1791) was shorter from the left bank then from the right bank where the number of bridges was nowhere near as numerous as today. Therefore it was a much easier journey for a nobleman to travel from the left bank to Versailles.

    Lastly, the business and luxury and financial hub of the city has always been, and continues till this day, to be in the right bank
    @ maounmaoun - Quite enlightening posts, I thank you !!!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Perfume houses based in the Faubourg Saint Germain?

    @Merely and Dollarsandscents: thank you : )))))

    The word we use today as "faubourg" was understood in previous centuries to mean "Hors-les-murs", or outside of the walls - it might seem outdated today but the faubourgs were really our equivalent of suburbs

    Proof of that metropolis/suburb divide can still be physically seen today:

    The "rue Saint Denis" becomes the "rue du Faubourg Saint Denis" once you pass the massive "Porte Saint Denis" (or gate Saint Denis) heading north - this gate is by far the most beautiful, here is a picture with a wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porte_Saint-Denis

    The gates therefore tangibly divided the city from the suburbs

    Another example, the "rue Saint Martin" becomes the "rue du Faubourg Saint Martin" once you pass the similarly massive "Porte Saint Martin"

    For info, "rue" means street in French, "porte" means gate, or door

    The "Porte Saint Denis" and the "Porte Saint Martin" are situated on the "Grand Boulevards", a massive stretch of road that was once the northern limits of Paris. Louis XIV turned these northern walls into fashionable boulevards in the 17th and 18th centuries.

    Therefore, anything north of the "Grand Boulevards" becomes "faubourg", anything south is the just the name of the street.

    For example, the "rue Montmartre" is south of the boulevards, north of the boulevards that same uninterrupted street becomes "rue du Faubourg Montmartre"

    Same thing with the "rue Poissonière".

    There are other Faubourgs in Paris: Saint Jacques, Saint Germain, Saint Honoré

    What Hermes and other people refer to as the "Faubourg" has to do with the "Faubourg Saint Honoré" on the right bank, which is home to the presidential palace (l'Elysée), the Ministry of the Interior, and numerous embassies. It is therefore, quite an expensive stretch of road.

    The "rue Saint Honoré" goes west to east and not north/south like the streets that were first designed and created by the Romans. The stretch of the road west of the Church of the Madeleine is the "rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré". Past this point the same street becomes the "rue Saint Honoré". A large gate called the "Porte Saint Honoré" thus divided intra-muros Paris to ultra-muros Paris. This gate no longer exists unfortunately.

    Finding an 18th century Saint Germain or left bank scent would be very hard, I would try to base my research on a recreation of Marie-Antoinette's perfume which would have been popular with the ladies of the noble Faubourg. I am sure they would have treasured these same scents in the following revolutionary decades.

    I am afraid anything post-1793 in scent, mainly colognes and vinegars, would better suit the revolutionary and napoleonic right bank : )))) I am thinking of Lubin, Rancé, Houbigant and Guerlain that were catering their scents for the emerging revolutionary and napoleonic aristocracy.

    I forgot to say yesterday that even the famous Houbigant opened his shop on the right bank in 1775 on the rue Saint-Honoré. From wikipedia: "An Houbigant legend, not verified, has it that when Marie Antoinette was fleeing to Varennes to escape the French revolutionaries she was recognised as royalty because of her Houbigant perfume, which only royalty could afford".

    Even though a perfume maker like Houbigant catered to pre-revolutionary aristocrats and the queen, all these perfumers turned their marketing and attention to a new clientele following the revolution.

    And seeing as the vast majority of French aristocrats fled to Belgium, Holland, Austria, the German states (thus abandoning and liberating their left bank mansions, which became revolutionary and imperial ministries - still in use today (the 7th arrondissement on the left bank houses the most government ministries today)), I would not be surprised if they adopted new perfumes from makers outside of France.

    Interestingly, a popular scent with the young dandies of the years following the revolution was musk, that is why they were called “The Muscadins” because of their craze for musk, which was also Empress Josephine’s favourite smell.
    Last edited by maounmaoun; 16th May 2012 at 01:24 PM.

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