Blog post by Gwen

Haute Provence – citrusy and floral and refreshing

Lavender in Provence - Image - Wikimedia Commons by Iamhao, Feb. 2013

Have you ever had an amazing, but simple, meal at a restaurant and thought to yourself that you could easily re-create it at home and when you do it falls short leaving you to wonder ‘It’s only four ingredients and three of them weren’t even cooked! Why didn’t this work? I don’t get it.’ Most often the reason for this kind of dinner disappointment is the quality of the ingredients.

When the pasta is hand-made with organic eggs, when the sauce comes from San Marzano tomatoes, when the cheese is Parmigiano-Reggiano, well, it’s just a matter of letting the ingredients shine. When you substitute a different quality of ingredient, you lose the magic. You may end up with a perfectly fine pasta dinner, but not the memorable one you had at that charming little osteria.

This is what went through my mind one warm day, sitting in the sun on the back deck, the smell of Haute Provence, eau de cologne, wafting up from my wrists to my nose.

Created by Patricia de Nicolaï for her French niche house Nicolaï Parfumeur-Créateur, Haute Provence is a flawless gem of a summer fragrance.

Colognes are one of my favourite things about the hot days of summer. Colognes follow a very simple formula: alcohol that contains a mixture of citrus oils, herbs and/or flowers, with a light base of woods or musk.

Uncomplicated, refreshing and light, colognes are an invigorating pick-me-up that make hot, sticky summer days bearable. So uplifting are they, colognes have become an essential beauty classic for men and women in Europe.

Here at the niche, we love ‘em too and you can find dozens in our Decants Store, but right now, it’s all about lavender, true lavender, the lavender that grows in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.

Between mid-June and August, Provence is carpeted with purple fields of lavender, but ‘true lavender’ grows spontaneously in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.

Lavandula angustifolia, also known as ‘true lavender’ or English Lavender, is an aromatic shrub that belongs to the mint family. Surprisingly, it isn’t native to England at all, but to the Mediterranean where it thrives in areas with wet winters, dry summers and at altitudes between 600- 1500 m. The Haute-Provence Lavender Essential Oil PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) is the most prized by perfumers, like Patricia de Nicolaï.

Parisian born Patricia de Nicolaï, knows perfume. A Guerlain on her mother’s side, she is the great-granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain and niece of Jean-Paul Guerlain. Growing up with such a prestigious perfume pedigree, she learned the value of quality ingredients, like true lavender, and she knows how to make the most of them – just spritz Haute Provence on your wrist.

It opens with a nose-tingling note of tart bergamot that introduces the good stuff – ‘true lavender’. It’s fragrant, fresh and so camphorous it’s heady. This is not the lavender sachet in your underwear drawer. A note of petitgrain, soft and floral balances the lavender, with its spicy, woody and green aspects. Iris joins the lavender, tames it a bit with its powdery and clean facets. It’s the paring of the lavender with the iris that makes this fragrance unisex. At the base, musk gives it a warm-skin feel, while vanilla adds a sweetness to the cologne that I find make it irresistible. Cedar gives the cologne its distinctive woodiness.

The drydown is smooth and elegant and sweet, floral and woody.
Simple, quality ingredients, treated with a deft hand that brings out the best of them makes Haute Provence one of the pleasures of summer.

Check out Haute Provence in our Shop.