Scents and the City

Cue theme music: dat dat da da da da dum

Sorry, readers, this post isn’t about those types of adventures!  No, we’re talking scents and the city.

A trip to France will delight the senses for sure and Paris especially is full of smells to make your nostrils tingle.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Diptyque (34 boulevard saint germain)


Diptyque is the Louis Vuitton of candles.  My favorite- feu de bois.  This candle smells exactly as the name suggests, like a smokey, woody evening.  This candle perfectly evokes those evenings in the fall when your neighbors are burning their logs and you’re outside in your snuggly sweatshirt.  Although some candles come off a bit too sweet, this one is 100% sugar-free.  On your next trip, you must stop by 34 boulevard saint germain to visit the original location and learn to smell the candles comme il faut    (dump the candle onto a stiff mini pillow and smell the bottom of the container).



Yes, going to Paris requires inhaling smoke.  When I’m in the US, there seems to be two types of cigarette smoke- the kind that reminds me of waiting in line at Geagua Lake amusement park circa 1993 and the kind that reminds me of France.  Which do you think I prefer?




Preservation exists in the museums that house ancient sculptures and works of art.  It exists in 12th century churches that make you wonder, humans made this?  It’s a cool smell, a mix of musk and new house.  It’s the reason Americans are in awe of the European countryside, so thick with history.  The scent of preservation is subtle but it’s yet another way to delight in the City of Lights.


Degustation de croissant


Hello, Readers!

I know I have been absent for awhile but the Duchess is back and has some very special posts coming to your way.  I just spent a few weeks in France and I’d like to share some of my experiences across the pond with you.

First, how can one go to France and NOT post about food?!  One of my favorite words in French is degustation and it means tasting.  A lot of times you hear it in reference to wine (degustation de vin) but I’d like to present you with my degustation de croissant.

A few months ago in the Wall Street Journal there was a special section on “Top Spots for Croissants in Paris”.  Anticipating my trip, I decided to hang on to the article and try a few places out.  Well, a few places turned into just one due to summer holiday hours (!!) but it was still a great experience.

Croissant from Sebastien Gaudard


The day started by getting off at the metro stop Trinite.  My tasting partner (the Vicomte de Smithfield!) and I arrived in the 9th arrondisement rested and ready for some petit dej’.  Learning that the boulangerie was closed until 10, we decided to stop for a cafe and the at a local tabac.  This proved to be an excellent stop as we stood at the bar with our drinks, watching the Asian Parisian buy his lottery tickets and the old men with their dogs browse casually through the newspaper (unfortunately reading about the disgusting rat infestation at the Louvre!).  I made a pit stop in the bathroom, and while this detail is usually TMI, let me tell you, this bathroom, although tiny,  was surprisingly immaculate!  Clean and modern with grey slate walls, finding a bathroom like this in Paris is no easy feat!

We then purchased our two croissants at Sebastien Gaudard and proceeded up rue des Martyrs to find a bench to enjoy them.  Walking up the rue des Martyrs was a treat in and of itself!  Boulangerie after boulangerie, patisserie after patisserie, looking into the windows of these perfect confections (strawberries inside their tart, strawberries outside their tart!), I felt I had discovered a culinary rue de Montaigne.


So what did the croissants taste like?! 

Well, according to the Wall Street Journal:

“Mr. Gaudard’s croissants have a glossamer glaze of sugar that brightens the taste of the butter in the pastry.  [His] are the ones that end p on my own breakfast table the most often.”

According to the Duchess:

“The croissant was very sticky and stuck to my teeth making me think this is not a good croissant to enjoy with others.  The croissant was good but there were no long lasting smells or tastes to make you go mmmmm”

And according to the harsher Vicomte:

“Not too much taste; close to the factory-made croissants”

So there you have it.  Although the croissant itself perhaps wasn’t worth another euro (these were 1,30) the experience itself certainly made this degustation worth it.  And that is what a good degustation is all about.  It’s not just the food- it’s also the experience surrounding the food.