VERSAILLES, France — Fragrance houses Guerlain and Diptyque, as well as glove-maker Maison Fabre and fine food purveyor Lenôtre, have joined forces with the Versailles mayor’s office to create a public park and visitor center celebrating the city’s past and present links with fragrance.
The four brands are part of the Cour des Senteurs, which opened on April 25 just a stone’s throw from the Château de Versailles, which attracts 10 million visitors per year.
The project links the chateau to the streets of Versailles’ historic center through a courtyard featuring boutiques for the four brands as well as an educational space and two public gardens, dubbed Jardin des Senteurs, celebrating fragrance and its ingredients, deputy mayor François de Mazières explained at a press conference to mark the opening.
“Versailles is a city that has an exceptional heritage, which we tend to forget because of the chateau,” de Mazières said. In the time of Louis XV, the court was known as the cour parfumé, or fragranced court in English, he explained.
As visitors enter the courtyard, on their right they find the Maison des Parfums, conceived like a curiosity shop by fragrance historian Elisabeth de Feydeau, who was a consultant for the project. This interactive space marks the history of fragrance and the city’s links with it, from the time of Louis XIV to the present with the ISIPCA perfumery school founded in 1971 by Jean-Jacques Guerlain and the Osmothèque fragrance conservatory, which opened in 1990.
The Maison des Parfums is designed to be visited in around 10 minutes, using screens and diffusion technology by Scentys, allowing tourists to make it part of their Versailles schedule.
Visitors are encouraged to dip a ribbon into a mosaic-clad fragrance fountain filled with an orange blossom scent by Drom, tie it onto something in one of the gardens and make a wish.
“I will tie several bracelets in the garden so that my wishes [in terms of visitor numbers] are granted,” Guerlain chief executive officer Laurent Boillot quipped during the conference.
Next stop in the courtyard are specially designed boutiques for the four brands. Guerlain’s 1,180-square-foot store incorporates an atelier that can be closed off for regular workshops, educating visitors about fragrance and the brand’s history.
“The international customer base is tempting,” Boillot told WWD. “This is our first French boutique outside Paris. It is not a question of revenues, we need to start by bringing traffic.”
Guerlain perfumer Thierry Wasser has developed an exclusive scent for the store, called Cour des Senteurs Versailles, built around jasmine, Marie-Antoinette’s favorite blossom.
At its colorful 300-square-foot boutique, Diptyque focuses on its home fragrance selection and has created a set of three candles evocative of Versailles — jasmine, mint and rose —housed in a Jouy-print box.
“This project is a means to defend French perfumery know-how,” said Fabienne Mauny, executive director of the brand. “Being part of this olfactory stroll through Versailles, [as well as] the creation of the gardens [are] very important [to us].”