Blog post by Gwen

Grand Chalet – floral and fresh and softly sweet

Image: Wikipedia, Grand Chalet by Marcel, 7 April 2015.

In the canton of Vaud in Switzerland, there is an alpine village called Rossinière.  Rossinière has an area of 23.4 square kilometers, a population of 543 and there are 190 private households, one of which is the famous ‘Grand Chalet’. It’s called Grand Chalet for good reason. This massive dwelling has a south façade that’s 27 meters wide and 19.5 metres high. The roof measures 950 square metres and more than 700 m3 of pine wood were used to build it, making it the biggest and oldest chalet in Switzerland and one of the largest inhabited wooden buildings in Europe.

Built between 1750 and 1754 by local businessman Jean David Henchoz, it was designed for commercial cheese production, storage and distribution. The Grand Chalet stayed in the Henchoz family and was converted into a hotel 1852. In 1977 it was bought by Count Balthazar Klossowski de Rola, known as Balthus.  A Polish-French modern artist, he is considered by some to be one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. In fact, he was one of the few living artists to be represented in the Louvre.

Born in Paris in 1908, Balthus, was a true original who drew people to him, people like Picasso, Malraux and Fellini and the house and gardens of the Grand Chalet became a salon where  artists, writers, filmmakers and bohemians, from Loulou de la Falaise to David Bowie to the Dalaï Lama, gathered.

When Balthus died in 2001, Bono sang at his funeral, which was attended by the likes of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, photographer Cartier-Bresson and supermodel Elle Macpherson.

So, where do Balthus and the Grand Chalet intersect with perfume? Why, in Grand Chalet eau de cologne from French luxury homeware brand, Astier de Villatte, of course.

Astier de Villatte was founded in 1996 by Benoît Astier de Villatte and Ivan Pericoli, designers of furniture and artisanal ceramic white glazed tableware, glassware, cutlery, candles and colognes.  Their penchant for nostalgia defines the brand. Astier de Villatte favours the hand-made over the mass produced and their products and shops all have the feel and look of days long gone by. It’s no surprise then, that they would create a scented tribute to an iconic house and an original artist like Balthus.

The inspiration for the cologne was Balthus’ favourite scent: the smell of ancient linden tree that shaded the garden at Grand Chalet.

Grand Chalet opens with the smell of linden blossoms: tender, lush and honey sweet. Linden tress have been in bloom along my street this past while, and the linden note in Grand Chalet is the most realistic and true I have smelled in a fragrance in a long while. Green notes from leaves and bergamot brighten the linden and gives it a gentle freshness. As it evolves, the linden deepens from the warm sweetness of mimosa while almond-faceted Heliotrope gives it a sumptuous vanilla milkiness. The mimosa and heliotrope bolster the linden rather than overshadow it allowing it to stay right to the base, where its milkiness is supported by rich, woody sandalwood and its sweetness warmed by musk.

The drydown is rich, floral and quite heady for an eau de cologne. The lighter concentration seems to let the fragrance soar, making Grand Chalet one of the most beautiful summer scents for both men and women.

The Grand Chalet is still owned the Balthus family and is closed to the public, but you can still travel to Rossinière and smell the linden trees. It’s an hour’s journey by train from Montreux, I’ve read, or you can let Grand Chalet take you there, after all, as Pericoli and Astier de Villatte said: “Scent should make a person dream and travel through time—and above all, should smell divine.” Bull’s eye!

Check out Grand Chalet in our Shop.