Suzanne's Perfume Journal

You May Be Wearing Flipflops and Celebrating Spring,
But Here in Pennsylvania, I'm Wearing Caron Parfum Sacre

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May 22, 2008:

(Fans of the novelist John Irving will know that my intro to this post is a nod to the Dr. Larch character in Irving’s novel, The Cider House Rules.  Whenever Dr. Larch spoke of the abysmal town of St. Cloud’s, Maine, the fictional setting for much of the novel—a logging-camp-turned-deserted-mill-town where the orphanage that Dr. Wilbur worked at was based—he often began with a scornful comparison between “other parts of the world” and St. Cloud’s: “In other parts of the world, fall is for the harvest; one gathers the fruits of spring and summer’s labors.  These fruits provide for the long slumber and the season of ungrowing that is called winter.  But here in St. Cloud’s, the fall is only five minutes long.”)

Five minutes is about how long we actually experienced sunshine so far here this spring—and most of that was in April.  So, in the chill and damp of this sad weather we’ve been having in May, I have been retreating to the back of the closet, literally and figuratively, to grab at sweaters, coats and oriental perfumes.  Caron Parfum Sacre, which I formerly thought of as a winter elixir, has been my scent of the day for three days running.  And it has been the highlight of these last three days, the only thing to break through to my senses, which always seem numbed and at great remove from my body when the monotony of gray weather moves in.  Notes for Parfum Sacre, according to, include:

                        Top: Lemon, Mace, Cardamom
                        Heart: Orange Blossom, Rose, Jasmine, Rosewood
                        Base: Vanilla, Myrrh, Civet, Cedarwood

Parfum Sacre opens with a golden brilliancy—its combination of bright, tangy lemon with the warm, perfumey spices of caradamom and mace (mace being the lacy outer casing of the nutmeg, more potent in fragrance than the nutmeg seed itself) creates a feeling of the kind of brightness that seems to emanate from a glowing chamber.  The instant I put it on I feel like I have made a dramatic transition, as if I had been wandering through a cold dark street at night and then entered into the golden, festooned halls of an aristocratic house where a sumptuous party is about to begin.  Shortly after entering this great hall—and the transition into the heart of the perfume—I smell a commingling of genteel scents: the rose in the corsage of the woman standing next to me, and the powdery smell of her rouged cheek; the balsam-y smell of myrrh from a potpourri that the host has just tossed into the crackling blaze of the fireplace; and a little later, the fragrant crush of vanilla that wafts forward when the man seated beside me breaks his spoon through the thin crust of his Crème Brulee.

All of these scents swirl and intertwine about me in the most cunning of ways, and trying to separate and examine them as they weave in out of the perfume proves to be as difficult as trying to separate strands of juicy gossip from the more useful tidbits of party smart-talk.  Suffice it to say that Parfum Sacre is beautifully blended, and though it is one of the more affordable fragrances I own, it smells sinfully rich in an elegant, refined way.  It is opulent without being ostentatious; it is sensuously spicy and warm without being vampy; and though it was created in 1991, it smells old-fashioned in a classic sense of the word.

And here in the heart of chilly Pennsylvania, it is the perfumed love that keeps me warm.

* * *

Caron Parfum Sacre eau de parfum can be purchased from the Caron Boutique in New York City, as well as from a good number of online perfume discounters. Prices vary accordingly.[Note: In the time since this post was originally published, Parfums Caron changed the bottle for their eau de parfums. The photo I show in this post is of their earlier bottles, which is the one I own.]

In other parts of the world, there is spring—a season of gradual warming that leads into summer.  But here in central Pennsylvania, spring is mostly a wan imitation of winter: cold, rainy, endlessly gray and dreary.

And in other parts of the world, fragrance lovers are delighting in balmier weather by splashing themselves with such delicate scents as La Chasse Aux Papillons and Osmanthe Yunnan.  But here in central Pennsylvania, we are donning multi-petticoated scents like Parfum Sacre to keep us warm in May temperatures that hover around 50 degrees.