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Au Bord de L’eau – citrus and green and luminous – May 12, 2017

Au Bord de l'Eau (At the Seine at Bennecourt) - Claude Monet, 1868 - Wikimedia Commons

A few weeks ago we had some good friends over for supper. We get together fairly often, so it’s always easy with this group. Lots of food, wine, good conversation and laughter.

At some point in the evening, when we were sitting around the table after the dishes had been cleared and another bottle had been opened, someone asked the person across from them what their most moving art experience was. “Seeing Michelangelo’s David for the first time” the answer came. This sparked lively conversation and as the question went around the table and I found the answers really interesting, not because of what they were, but because of the way people seemed to relate to the experience. “I’ll never forget the day I saw…..” When it came my turn, the answer was easy: Monet's Garden at Giverny.

I remember everything about that day vividly.  We were on a driving holiday through France. It was a perfect day in June, and I remember driving on the more interesting “D” roads, my husband at the wheel, his white shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows, the map held between his teeth for easy access as we approached a destination so we wouldn’t take a wrong cutoff. I was the navigator, pregnant, a little car sick and a lot distracted. But all that evaporated when we arrived at Giverny. Walking on the Japanese footbridge bridge over the water lily pond, touring the gardens, studio and house. I can see in my mind the yellow dining room and yellow and blue Limoge place settings. It was a memorable experience in so many ways, and I came away from it with a deeper appreciation for Monet and his work.

Which brings me to Au Bord de L’eau from L’Artisan Parfumeur. Along with Sur L'herbe, Au Bord de L’eau is part of L’Artisan’s first ever cologne collection. Both fragrances were created by nose Fabrice Pellegrin and both were inspired by Impressionist paintings. Sur L'herbe was inspired by Le Déjeuner sur L’Herbe by Edouard Manet and Au Bord de L’Eau was inspired by Au Bord de L’Eau by Claude Monet. Like the Impressionist artists did with painting, Pellegrin seeks to create a fragrance that captures a moment, a sensation, through suggestion rather than defining contours.

Originally titled ‘The Seine at Bennecourt’, ‘Au Bord de L’Eau’ was painted in 1868. It shows Monet’s future wife, Camille, sitting on an island in the Seine, looking across the water to the village of Gloton. The simple setting is defined through bold colours, light and reflection rather than through form and location. Au Bord de L’eau cologne has the same effect.

It opens mild, refreshing and green from bergamot and zesty, lemon oil. The top notes settle into a subtly sweet lemon scent that lingers, making Au Bord de L’Eau luminous at this stage. And then, slowly, slowly (I mean like an hour in) sweet, warm, floral orange blossom comes forward along with aromatic, camphorous rosemary and cedarwood. It’s herbaceous and woody and complex and luminous all at the same time. And then, another hour or so later, the most beautiful earthy, powdery violet note emerges, over the scent like a veil, supported perfectly by the herbal freshness of the rosemary and resting on a base of musk and wood.

For me, this cologne is a successful olfactory expression of the Impressionist painting but that aside it is a gorgeous unisex skin scent that conjures the feeling of a gentle summer’s day and that’s a feeling I want to experience time and time again.

A word of caution: the word ‘L’Eau’ in the name of the fragrance refers to the painting that inspired it and not the notes in the fragrance. ‘Au Bord de L’Eau’ is not an aquatic fragrance.

Au Bord de L’Eau is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.