You can step into the world of haute perfume in Paris with just one visit to Jovoy Paris, on the rue de Castiglione, in the 1st Arrondissement. In Jovoy, François Hénin has created a showcase for the history, artistry and creativity of perfume. His love for and dedication to perfume is clear within minutes of speaking with him. This is a store that is not focused on selling; instead, it is focused on creating the optimal experience for your olfactory senses.
The store holds more than 600 scents from over 40 perfumeries. Instead of test strips, you simply lift the top of one of the ubiquitous glass bottles and sniff. Spraying perfume on test strips quickly overwhelms the nose because of the alcohol given off through the spray. By smelling the essence of the perfume through the bottle lid, you have a purer sense of what the perfume truly smells like.
Humiecki and Graef limited porcelain edition.
According to François, the biggest mistake people make when buying perfume is that “they buy the impression, not the promise.” Perfume consists of three notes: the top notes, middle notes (heart notes) and bottom notes. The top notes are the impression, but they wear off quickly. The “promise” of a perfume is the heart and the bottom. At Jovoy, the staff would rather send you home with free samples then push a sale. In fact, a significant part of the philosophy behind both the bottles and the cheat sheets (below each tray of scents you can pull out a cheat sheet that describes the scents involved in all the notes for each perfume) is that you should be able to smell what you like on your own, without a salesperson hovering over you.
Those truly dedicated to history can smell the perfume that Queen Mary wore at her betrothal ceremony. Or Napoleon’s cologne—that’s right, this isn’t just for women. Jovoy also makes a point of introducing new perfume lines in the store, including both Parisian perfumes and other European creators. Its recent fall open house included, among others, Ann Gérard, a jeweler whose new perfume line was inspired by different stones; Neela Vermeire, a perfume enthusiast whose love of perfume and passion for her Indian heritage led to her new perfume line inspired by India’s rich and complex history; and Humiecki and Graef, an unusual line from Germany in which each perfume seeks to evoke a specific emotion, ranging from contentment to maternal pride to melancholy. Another new line at Jovoy is Undergreen, a small French perfume line dedicated to using only natural ingredients. These perfumes aren’t just about what smells good; they’re also about what smell can mean. They’re art—with an added bonus of making you, or your home, smell magnificent.
Jovoy is one-stop shopping for rare and haute perfumes. Few stores like this exist anywhere in the world. Unique even within the perfume world, it adds a special dimension to any trip to Paris. More important, Jovoy makes perfume accessible to even a scent novice—and if you are a perfume lover, then you are sure to be in seventh heaven.
Humiecki and Graef
Liz Cohen moved to Paris in 2011 for her husband’s job but quickly fell in love with all things Parisian. When not consulting on education policy or parenting her toddler, Liz can be found chasing down the best baguette, searching out a new perfume or trying yet another macaron—and blogging about it all at What Am I Doing in France.
Editor’s note: Have you checked out l’Echappée, one of our fabulous spa partners? It’s truly the best place in Paris to unwind after a day of shopping or triping. And as a GG2P Travel Club member, you’ll get 15 percent off your bill. There’s even a cute café you can enjoy after your session of pampering.