Friday, 13 July 2018

Persolaise Review: Les Eaux De Chanel - Paris-Biarritz, Paris-Deauville & Paris-Venise from Chanel (Olivier Polge; 2018)

It seems fitting that a rare (perhaps only?) example of a Chanel release inspired directly by the idea of travel is, in itself, a journey through some of the brand’s most memorable olfactory endeavours. According to the press notes, Paris-Venise, Paris-Biarritz and Paris-Deauville were brought to life as an attempt to reinstate the links between France’s capital and three locations that were important to Gabrielle Chanel’s life. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the way perfumer Olivier Polge appears to have decided to tackle the project is by going on a trip through the house’s scented heritage.

All three fragrances sit on the lighter, cologne-like side of the scent spectrum: I presume this was a requirement placed on Polge from the word go. However, within that framework he has performed a hat-trick of intriguing ‘update’ jobs, as though attempting to re-offer some of the brand’s more established wares to a younger audience (as he was tasked to do with No. 5 L’Eau). Take Paris-Venise, for instance. With its cloistered, eyelid-lowering suffusion of vanilla and dark woods, it instantly calls to mind Coco - still the brand’s most iconic oriental - and, by extension, Coco Noir, which was specifically designed to evoke the land of the Doges. But as it relies on relatively weighty materials to assert its identity, it doesn’t pull off the ‘fresh and breezy’ vibe as convincingly as the other two do. That said, in the catalogue of ‘twilight scents’, it’s a curious entry, and precisely because it possesses greater heft, it also displays this collection’s most substantial drydown.

Paris-Deauville is the threesome’s predictable member, employing the bracing attributes of orange, petitgrain and basil to offer a textbook reading of lightness, an even less demanding iteration of Chance. Still, it performs very well, avoiding crudeness almost right to the very end. Like many a Normandy weekender, it makes up for a lack of originality with easy elegance. The best of the three is Paris-Biarritz even though it features... pause to make sure I really do want to type this... a marine note. Yes indeed, the rightly-maligned bête noire of perfumery finds credible expression in Olivier Polge’s impressionistic portrait of the Atlantic coast. This is mainly because he’s couched it in many other layers, from a softly-hued grapefruit opening, through to lily of the valley, green facets and iris, all of which, of course, recall Cristalle (and, to some extent, 1932). The whole is a small-scale triumph of unostentatious perfume landscaping, hovering just on the right side of ‘non-detectable’, filling the air with a subtle suggestion not only of sea spray, but also of an endless ocean, just beyond the edge of the cliff. Enjoyable work.

[Reviews based on samples of eau de toilette provided by Chanel in 2018.]



  1. Accidentally I've tried the three scents the same day when your review was posted so I have them fresh in my memory. I agree with you that Paris-Venise has the least cologne feeling. It reminded me straight away of a Chanel Chance flanker. Paris-Biarritz and Paris-Deauville were both more appropriate as colognes whereby I prefered the slightly bitter freshness of Paris-Deauville. The price is not so bad but I wasn't able to test the sillage properly.
    Apropos Deauville, I think Patricia de Nicolai had to change the name of her perfume Weekend a Deauville because the mayor of the city disapproved of using the name for a perfume. I wonder how come that Chanel was allowed to use the name...

    1. Oooh, I didn't know that Nicolai story, although I remember I enjoyed the scent.

      Yes, Venise is an odd creature, isn't it? Trying to have its cake and eat it too...?


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