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Cologne Sologne – old and new and perfect for summer – August 4, 2017


I found myself nodding my head in agreement when I read Kay’s blog about Eau de rhubarbe écarlate, the cologne from Hèrmes. There is something about colognes and summer. We’re not the only ones who feel that way. The last few years have seen colognes make a big comeback. But for me, they never went away.

Uncomplicated, refreshing and light, colognes are an invigorating pick-me-up on hot, sticky days and have become a beauty classic for men and women in Europe.

I remember my first trip to Paris when, through arrangements made by mutual friends, I ended up sharing a flat with a young Parisian woman for a few days. It was summer in the City of Light, but she had a lovely fresh air about her.  I worked up the courage, and in my best broken French, asked her what perfume she was wearing. Her face lit up and she told me that in the morning she always splashes her neck and upper chest and arms with Bien-Etre cologne. “Bien-Etre cologne?” I repeated. “Yes”, she said as she offered me the bottle, “everybody uses it to stay cool in the summer. We put it in the bath also.”  I was dubious, but cheap and easy to find in grocery stores, I soon had my own big bottle of Bien-Etre. Gentle reader, I still wear it to this day.

But, c’mon, who wants to wear just one cologne their whole life? Not me. So, I’ve tried, tested and worn more than a few over the years and I have to report that there are very few I don’t like – from the legendary 4711 to whatever one I pick up next week. But let’s talk about this week and Cologne Sologne, the cult cologne by Nicolaï Parfumeur Createur.

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. It’s how a perfumer plays with the ingredients in the formula that makes their colognes distinctive and I love what Patricia de Nicolaï does in Cologne Sologne.

It opens with a note of biting, bitter bergamot mellowed with sweet orange and zesty lemon. It’s that addictive citrus hit I love in colognes. The citrus fruits fade and a note of sweet, tangy Tunisian neroli come forward. It’s plush and deliciously floral. The neroli is flanked with aromatic lavender, which adds a clean aspect to the cologne and camphorous, minty rosemary. Oh my! This is one fragrant combination! The neroli lingers to a quiet base of patchouli, benzoin, musk.

Now, here’s the thing about Cologne Sologne that set it apart from other colognes: the ingredients are top drawer, and they smell that way; the opening is softer than most colognes because the citrus isn’t as harsh; it actually has some development and the base notes give it more longevity than most other colognes. For all of this, it’s a traditional European warm weather/casual scent.

As for the ‘Sologne’ in Cologne Sologne…
In 1853 Pierre-Pascal-Francois Guerlain created Eau de Cologne Impériale, with notes of citrus and Provençal herbs, as a wedding gift for Napoléon III and his wife Eugénie. Fast forward to 1989, when Patricia de Nicolaï, great-granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain (and the last living Guerlain perfumer) launches Cologne Sologne. Sologne is the region in north-central France where in, the 19th century Napoleon III reclaimed the swamps by planting trees and encouraged farming and stock-raising to grow and thrive there.

Is Cologne Sologne a nod to a family tradition? Maybe. I don’t really know. I’m too busy enjoying it to really think about it.

Cologne Sologne is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.