Friday, 8 August 2014

'Hot orange': Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger ~ Néroli Blanc Eau de Parfum Intense review

The other week I was contacted out of the blue by Bloom Perfumery in London asking if I was interested - on a no strings basis - in sampling a brand they had just acquired, Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger ('in the country of orange blossom'). The company, founded in 1998, is owned by Virginie and Antoine Roux, who have a longstanding family connection to perfumery: Antoine Roux's great-grandfather, Victor, was a flower merchant supplying the perfumeries of Grasse. Bloom described the trio of scents, which are exclusive to the Spitalfields store at the moment, as "a simple, very French, collection of neroli straight from Provence".  Well, in this sort of weather - okay, it has been intermittently warm lately, says she looking out the window at dense cloud cover - I am rather drawn to perfumes featuring orange blossom, and 'simple' is never a bad word in my book, so I said "Yes, thank you" to their offer. Actually, it's not the latest fragrance collection Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger has released - this spring saw the launch of La Collection les inédits, which recently featured in The Chemist in the Bottle. Additionally, Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger offers a range of room fragrances, soaps and other body care products, all focusing on the scents associated with this part of France, such as rose, jasmine, lemon blossom, lavender and above all, orange blossom.

As the Rouxs (not sure about the plural -s, but no matter) state on their website (translation is my own): "Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger...a brand where orange blossom, recognised for its gentle and soothing virtues, is queen."

'Do I look a bit warm in this?'

Such an orange-centric range of perfumes got me thinking about my own personal associations with oranges, going back to my childhood. I remember 'hot orange', for example, a rather watery drink made by diluting orange squash. We were issued with thermos flasks of this warming but insipid stuff on school youth hostelling trips, to wash down the queasy-making spam sandwiches. By contrast, Haliborange tablets provided a gloriously intense hit of orange sweetness - the one vaguely 'medicinal' product I used to look forward to taking.

Then in the early 70s I went on holiday with my parents to Yugoslavia, and this photo of me in a woolly tank top standing in front of an orange tree forever sums up that holiday. It was unseasonably warm for April, and I must have been boiling. So there is another instance of 'hot oranges', if you will. To see the actual fruits growing on trees was impossibly exotic to my 12 year old self.  Fast foward to the end of the 70s, and I spent a year teaching English on the French Riviera, from where I made many forays into the hinterland, including to the village where Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger is based, and has a shop - La Colle sur Loup. For anyone not in a position to visit, but wishing to steep themselves in the ambience of Provence, I would heartily recommend La Gloire de Mon Père by Marcel Pagnol or the film Manon des Sources, which has some lovely footage of the area. You can't smell it though, which is where the Néroli Blanc collection comes in...

Suitably stonking bottle ~ Source: fragrantica

I have tested - and like - all three fragrances in the collection, but the edp and eau de cologne are relatively fleeting on me.  I should perhaps clarify that they are all quite different - not just in terms of concentration - and despite sharing four common notes: neroli, bergamot, rose and jasmine. My standout favourite was the Néroli Blanc Eau de Parfum Intense (henceforward to be referred to as 'Néroli Blanc Intense' or possibly just 'Intense' if I am feeling lazy):


Notes: neroli, verveine, bergamote, jasmine, rose, cedar

I don't know if there are some key notes missing from that list - and I am not aware of either the verveine or the cedar - but my overriding impression of the Intense perfume is of a sweet, honeyed, juicy, jammy wallop of orange blossom, flanked by jasmine and rose, and resting on a pillow of warm, unctuous vanilla. It is hot, and it is bothered. Imagine the love child of Serge Lutens Fleurs d'Oranger and Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidée Vanille. It differs from the Serge Lutens in two key ways, namely that it is more vanillic, in a nuzzling, cosseting way, and it also teeters just the right side of indolic. Yes, Néroli Blanc Intense is sultry and exotic, but not out and out erotic. I checked the notes of the SL for comparative purposes - the addition of tuberose may help to amp up its vampish, orange bombshell vibe:


Notes: orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, rose, citrus, cumin, nutmeg


A 'big white floral scent with vanilla' of which I was also reminded - especially texturally - is Annick Goutal's Songes. So I dug out my sample of that and promptly fell in love! It has different floral notes: frangipani, tiare, jasmine, ylang-ylang (though ylang-ylang has a bit of a tangy orange-y facet to it). Crucially, it has the vanilla base that I detect in Néroli Blanc intense, though it is not mentioned and I may be making it up. And Néroli Blanc Intense also has something of the dreamy, soft quality of Songes - Songes is actually a tad quieter I might add, in case that helps people position the two along the diva spectrum. Songes melds with my skin more readily, whereas the Néroli Blanc Intense sits on my wrist like a big gorgeous hot shouty orange thing. Big and shouty, yet paradoxically warm and comforting at the same time, like Songes. But it is in a louder register all the same - it never loses its 'not quite indolic twang', if you know what I mean. Interestingly, both scents are a similar colour.

Another analogy I might draw would be with an orange-forward Lys Soleia or Mary Greenwell Plum, say. We are talking those kind of levels of projection and radiance and 'juiciness' and 'in your face-ness'. There are also echoes of Ajne Bloom de Nuit, which includes notes of flowering orange, citrus and rock rose, amber and sandalwood, but I don't suppose too many people will have tried that one, and my own memory of it is pretty distant now. I could also say that it smells the way I hoped Guerlain's Mon Précieux Nectar would smell, but that was a bit of a disappointing fuzzy mishmash on me.

La Colle sur Loup ~ Source:

Aha - I just spotted the note list for Néroli Intense on Fragrantica, and it is more extensive, with added vanilla, sandalwood and fruits!

Top notes: orange blossom, Sicilian bergamot, mandarin orange
Middle notes: jasmine, rose and fruits
Base notes: cedar, vanilla, musk and sandalwood

I am retesting all three of the Néroli Blanc collection at the moment - they have been on skin for a couple of hours and the other two (even the edp) are indistinct blurs, sadly, so I shan't dwell on them. The openings were very pretty though, and other reviewers - as with Tauer's new Cologne du Maghreb - seem to have got more mileage out of them, so do give them a go if you get the chance.  The older I get, the more my skin seems to eat perfume.

So, the upshot of my testing of this trio is that I would love to have a bit more of Néroli Blanc Eau de Parfum Intense - a purse spray-sized amount, say. And the other surprise finding is that I am now dreaming of a bottle of Songes...



  1. First of all, thank you for the translation of the name. I know, I know - Google is my friend and I can easily find a close match to almost any non-abstract perfume name. But usually I'm too lazy to do that.

    I like how the bottle looks and if/when I get a chance I'll try this line but none of the perfumes you went through in your comparison belongs to my strong favorites so I'm not too eager.

    1. Hi Undina,

      You're welcome. ;) I didn't feel the need to translate the 'white' in Neroli Blanc, but actually I am now puzzling over the possibility of there being any other colours of the stuff...

      The bottle is satisfyingly chunky, I think, and lives up to this potent perfume. It is odd how it is both loud and soft and snuggly at the same time - the pungent orangeness is mitigated by the vanilla, I guess. You might care for the other two in the trio, but I have to say that after a promising opening, they sort of collapsed quite soon on me, especially the edc, though you would expect that at least.

  2. I love that tank-top photo of you!

    How funny that you have actually been the village where the brand is based. That's a nice coincidence.

    I like the bottle and have a fondness for golden orange coloured juice. I've been after a nice tart, green neroli for years but from you description this sounds a bit too close to the richer orange blossom. It does sound lovely in its own right though.

    1. Hi Tara,

      My mum knitted it, as I recall. Like mother, like daughter where knitting is concerned...And yes, I have been to the village, but that was a long time ago, obviously. If I was back in the area I would be so much more interested in all the perfumery related places around Grasse - or this shop indeed.

      If you are after a tart, green neroli, Intense is not the one for you, as you correctly surmise. I prefer my orange blossom not to be too spicy or too indolic or too sharp or offbeat, and as a huge lover of vanilla, am very happy to find it teamed with the note here!

  3. I have tried them too, and wasn't too keen on the edc and edp, as both felt very soapy on me. The intense is indeed different and as bold as you describe. While I like orange/vanilla mix in general, as a perfume it didn't quite work for me. But I'd love to have a body cream or bath oil that smells like that.

    1. Hi Sabine,

      Thanks for chiming in with your own take on these three - I didn't find the edc and edp to be soapy per se, though the edc went almost 'mainstream' in vibe after a bit and maybe skewed a bit soapy or musky on me as well. The opening was so sparkling though, it seemed to promise great things!

      Now a body cream or bath oil would be amazing, I agree. I may actually feature a bath product I am enjoying - just something bog standard from Boots - which has the most delicious orange essential oil in it.

  4. I always think of the French translation of Goethe's 'Kennst du das land' when I hear of this brand. It's 'Connais-tu le pays où fleurit l'oranger?' I wonder if that was an inspiration. It sounds like a lovely fragrance, I will make sure to try it if I should chance upon it :-) Until then I'll make do with the film suggestions, the first I didn't know and Manon des Sources I haven't watched in ages.

    1. Hi Asali,

      I can see why you would think of that Goethe poem - that was lemon tree blossom, wasn't it? I reckon that if you do not find that Terracotta Le Parfum too much of a powerhouse then there is a good chance you would like this a lot. Lovers of orange blossom should definitely give it a spin. I mean I used to like exclusively wispy gentle scents, so I have come a long way myself!

      Well, there you go... I just bought La Gloire de Mon Pere on Amazon as I haven't read it since I was doing French A-Level and I am not likely to be going back to Provence any time soon. ;)

    2. Yep, it's Kennst du das Land wo die Zitronen blüh'n? They took quite a lot of liberties in the French version, there are roses too and no laurels :-/

    3. Goodness, that is cheeky of them! Why, that is a whole other floral proposition. ;)

  5. A "juicy, jammy wallop of orange blossom" is generally what I look for in my dreams. But when you put vanilla with ob you often get an orange creamsicle (or ice lolly). This can be not a bad combo, but can also be predictable. I'm hoping Neroli Blanc is not that sort of thing? I wish I could remember what I thought of Songes...

    1. Hi Blacknall,

      I understand your concern, but this is not what I would describe as an 'orange ice lolly' (the equivalent of your 'popsicle'). I think you would enjoy the fruity wallop, which remains uppermost.

      Songes is so soft and tender on me now. I am sure I remember it as a big diva - capable even of inducing headaches on the wrong day - but not so.

  6. Vanessa, we have not had enough sunlight in my part of the globe this summer, so reading about this perfume and seeing the photo of the village you visited when you were teaching in Provence has been a pleasure this morning.

    As much as I like big white floral scents, I have never gotten on all that well with the Lutens Fleurs d'Oranger, nor Songes, though I should retry the latter, as it's been a while. The Lutens orange blossom somehow gets on my nerves with its high-pitched sweetness. That said, your description of Neroli Blanc Intense makes it sound quite captivating (it sounds like it has more base, more creaminess than the Lutens). Don't know that I'll ever track it down, but I certainly enjoyed your description of it.

    1. Hi Suzanne,

      Glad to have brought some virtual sunshine to your part of the world - it has become cooler and more changeable here this past fortnight, so I think I was cheering myself up too. ;)

      I know just what you mean about the Serge Lutens scent, and it is rather full on - and indolic - to my nose. The Neroli Intense is indeed more rounded out, softer and creamier, while still unquestionably packing a punch!

  7. Hi Vanessa,
    Thank you for reminding me of Haliborange! Oh how those things were a treat in the morning. I could do with one now given my horribly expanded tonsils. I'm off to the supermarket shortly to buy some of my other childhood illness treat - Buttercup Syrup cough mixture. Remember that one? I could drink it recreationally.

    There seem to be an awful lot of these Orange Blossom/Neroli/Petitgrain concoctions around at the moment. I think I like them best when they gain 'over the top Diana Dors bosom' (Penhaligon's - Cornubia) or the opposite 'astringent green citrus zing' (Miller Harris - La Petitgrain). I'm not sure I really appreciate those that sit somewhere in the middle. I'd love to try both this one and the Songes now, to see if they endear me more to the genre.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Sorry to hear that you are poorly. It is always such a shame to be ill in the summer somehow. And no, I am not familiar with the cough syrup you mention, though it sounds a nice flavour.

      Funny you should mention Miller Harris Le Petitgrain - I tried it fleetingly on skin and liked it - and it has been haunting me ever since. I think I may shy away from the total 'over the top Diana Dors bosom' kind of scents, hehe, but I love your description. I am very keen to get my hands on some more of Songes in particular - I think you might find it pneumatic enough, you know?