Despite Paris’s unseasonably beautiful weather, I opted to spend the day inside, exciting my senses, at two of the city’s lesser-known museums: The Grand Perfume Museum and the Fragonard Museum of Perfume. As The Grand Perfume Museum explains, France is home to Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, and Paris, the global capital of chic, so there is no better place to explore society’s fascination with fragrance than in the country that captures it all.
The Grand Perfume Museum
Opened in December 2016, The Grand Perfume Museum showed signs of its first-year status; audioguides were unavailable for the visit and some exhibits were not yet completed. Nonetheless, the videos, interactive games, and overall information presented by the museum entertained. The self-guided tour can last as long or as short as one wishes, but with all of the intriguing displays, I ended up staying for a few hours, much longer than expected.
From history to science, the museum explained the origins of perfume, the biological processing of scents, and everything in between.
As one can imagine, smelling was a huge part of the experience. Whether requiring a visitor to guess a scent or to match one to a memory, the exhibits engaged guests in creative and thoughtful ways.
Overall, the experience is well-done, with a wide range of expositions that spark multiple senses, appealing to children, adults, men, and women. Once the museum addresses its minor operational difficulties, it can be added to the list of the many ways to pass a perfect afternoon in Paris.
The Fragonard Museum of Perfume
While the Grand Perfume Museum educates on fragrance as a whole, the Fragonard Museum of Perfume focuses on the Fragonard brand. Another difference, the Fragonard museum offers free admission and a guided tour. I did not make a reservation for an English guide, so I joined one of the French tours organized every 20 minutes.
I’m not sure if it was the information, the presenter, the French, or a combination of the three, but I felt that this tour was dull and drawn out. Especially when compared to the Grand Perfume Museum, the Fragonard lacked engagement. It is a passive experience, dominantly looking and listening, so visitors cannot connect to the content. When creating a museum about fragrance, the primary action should be smell!
The Fragonard Museum of Perfume is much more a museum than a full sensory experience, like that of The Grand Perfume Museum. Paying to play at The Grand Perfume Museum is a more productive use of precious Parisian time than strolling through a staged tour at Fragonard.
Evenings at the Eiffel Tower
After spending hours indoors, I opted to watch the sunset from the Eiffel Tower. With a stick of barbe à papa (translation: Dad’s beard), I sat on a bench in the Trocadero Gardens and enjoyed the magical hour between day and night in one of the most spectacular cities in the world.
- The Grand Perfume Museum
- 73 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris
- Fragonard Museum of Perfume
- 3-5 Square de l’Opéra-Louis Jouvet, 75009 Paris
- Eiffel Tower
- Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris
- Trocadéro Gardens
- Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, 75016 Paris
Paix, Amour, Paris,