Paris is filled with dozens of museums with very specific themes including wine, counterfeiting, Edith Piaf (housed in a private Paris apartment), sewers, hunting, carnivals and vampires.
The newest addition to the idiosyncratic collection of Paris museums is Le Grand Musee du Parfum/The Great Perfume Museum. It’s fitting to have a perfume museum in Paris as France is still the greatest producer of fragrances in the world, and it’s the third largest French export after aeronautics and wine.
The location on the rue Faubourg Saint Honore is also fitting, counting high luxury shops such as Hermes, Pierre Cardin and Walter Steiger plus the five-star Le Bristol Hotel as neighbors.
The beautifully renovated 19th former mansion, spanning three floors with over 15,000 square feet of exhibition space, was the home of aristocrat Antoine-Marie Roederer in the mid-1800s and in the 1990s it was the couture house of designer Christian Lacroix.
Le Grand Musee du Parfum is an ambitious undertaking; it bills itself as a cultural institution dedicated to educating and entertaining visitors in understanding the art of perfume making.
We attended a press tour on December 23 of the three sections of the museum. The first section, divided into four galleries, la galerie des séducteurs (seducers’ gallery), le parfum sacré (sacred perfume), le cabinet de curiosités (the curio cabinet), and l’essor de la parfumerie moderne (the rise of modern perfumery). The galleries tell the history of perfume from its ancient beginnings in Egypt where man invented the first perfume, kyphi, which guests are invite to smell, to current day perfume manufacturing.
Next was the sensory immersion, the fun interactive section, where we were invited to a room with a state of the art installation. A series of hanging vessels contained individual metal spheres, which represented the different oils and flower scents perfume is derived from. For instance you pick up the one labeled jasmine and you put the sphere up to your ear so you can listen to a history of jasmine and how it's used in perfume. After, it sprays a dash of jasmine for you to smell.
L’Art du Parfumeur – The Art of the Perfumer section showcases the inspiration, creative processes and techniques of perfumers. In a series of videos, top Parisian perfumers explain their passion and experience of the complicated process of developing a new scent.
The museum also houses a 13,000 square foot garden, which will be used to raise awareness for sustainability by developing perfume plants.
Besides the permanent installations, Le Grand Musee du Parfum will offer workshops, cultural events, new exhibitions, and performances and will collaborate with luxury and fine crafts companies to produce perfume related products.
73, rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré – 75008
Open Tuesday to Sunday 10:30AM to 7PM, Thursday till 10PM