L’Artisan Parfumeur Cote d’Amour

A light, dry floral with a melancholic edge.

I love being surprised by smells. Especially in these times of cookie-cutter mainstream perfumes, where advances in fragrance chemistry are matched only by the perfume houses’ de-evolution of nerve and flair.

Fumeheads are served up the same jaded rom-com over and over again: red berry aroma chemical meets cotton candy aroma chemical, they get into a contrived mix-up over a blend of indistinguishable white florals, then ride off together into the played-out woody vanilla sunset.

Maybe the answer is to turn our backs on modern science, reject the technology that allows candyfloss to be shoehorned into our perfumes, and see what Mother Nature can do to get our noses twitching again.

This “back to the garden” approach seems promising, until you realize how limited an all-natural palette can be. No more realistic citruses that last for unrealistic hours on the skin, no more roses morphing into plums, and no more Indian sandalwood, which no longer exists in nature in any significant quantities. (And no more cotton candy, of course!)

As appealing as natural perfumes can be, it’s hard for them to soar very far above their earthly ingredients. Or as perfume pundit Luca Turin puts it, “...with few exceptions, you can have natural fragrances in any color as long as it’s brown”. Well, now you can count the emphatically non-brown L’Artisan Parfumeur Côte d’Amour among the few exceptions.

Côte d’Amour, billed as an “eau de toilette naturelle”, is given the thumbs up by Ecocert, the organic certification organization. It’s L’Artisan Parfumeur’s second stab at ecoscents, after 2007’s L’Eau de Jatamansi. But where L’Eau de Jatamansi comes off as nothing more than pleasant spa-style aromatherapy, Côte d’Amour sails past the nose as a fully formed smellscape.

Côte d’Amour is a salty aquatic fragrance developed by perfumer Celine Ellena, creator of another accomplished “salt perfume”, The Different Company Sel de Vetiver. While Sel de Vetiver lingers on its minerals, and stays anchored by rich, ropey vetiver, Côte d’Amour’s sea-saltiness lightens up into wispy, soft-focus flowers.

I first wore it on an inky-black Southern California night a month ago when temps nudged the 90s. Its smell in the hot, still air was perfect: light and dry, floral with a melancholic edge.

I couldn’t really place individual ingredients, and was fascinated when I read the official list: tangerine, grapefruit, rosemary, immortal flower, cypress, gorse blossom, rose, broom, heather and maritime pine.

It just sounded like a boatload of sour citrus and sharp-smelling needle-shaped leaves. But I get dry and chalky out of it. There is a subtle aromatic quality, but so ombre’d that you’d be hard pressed to yell out “Hey! Dig that crazy cypress!” or “By gum, that’s rosemary, or I’m a monkey’s uncle!” Côte d’Amour is not a “smell and tell” scent, that’s for sure.

The mineral chalkiness flakes off gradually, revealing a sheer wash of honeyed flowers. The plant experts say that the fragrance of broom ranges from herbal to hay to algae, and that gorse blossom is coconutty. Both possess a syrupy sweetness, which I’m guessing is helped along in this case by the immortal flower.

But the sweetness here is a whisper, not a scream. We’re not dealing with cotton candy. This shizz is natural, and natural means ixnay on the candy-colored clown called ethyl maltol. This ethereal, wistful perfume is the furthest thing from aroma chemical hot pink...or crunchy granola brown, for that matter. Color Côte d’Amour daydream blue.

Côte d’Amour is available from Aedes.com and LuckyScent.com at $155 for 250ml

Image by lets_explode


  1. I am crazy about Sel de Vetiver. Also Pro Fvmvm Roma has salty and sugary perfumes worth checking out.
    Loved the review Katie.
    If you like cookies - Tommy 10 girl is an option too.

    kissy kissy milk & cookies


  2. I live for your fragrance interpretations -- sassy and gracious. And I appreciate the perspective that natural fragrances are a challenge to create something new and interesting out of a set of aromatics that, essentially, hasn't changed since antiquity; they're value and success shouldn't be judged in relation to what modern perfumery can achieve, but as a separate genre. Thanks for this review!

  3. Noal, nicely put! Thanks for your pithy comment.

    Q, I love how your references span from Profumum to Tommy Girl 10!

  4. Yum. Sounds divine. Thanks for the review.

  5. Hi Katie!

    I was wondering--what do you think of l'artisan's drole de rose? I've seen a lot of mixed reviews so I'd love to hear your thoughts.



  6. Honey flavor is my favorite and one of my friends bought Marc Jacob Honey from London for me and I really love it did you notice the bottle of honey is very collective and I have collected near around 100 bottle.hamber