The French have a long tradition and skills in the art of making perfumes. The great names in fashion have assisted in exporting some of the most important names in perfume through out the world.
The birth place for French perfumes is in the Provence region and is called Occitane (pronounced Ox C tan). The abundance of herbs, lavender and many other wild flowers on the rocky landscape, plus hundreds of years of experience in distilling mixtures and creating scents.
Although the French have taken a back seat in fashion design, they still reign supreme in the making of perfumes. It is but natural that they should, since they have a solid three hundred year old pedigree behind them. The best French perfume, and for that matter, all French perfumes are luxurious, sensual and refined and last longer than most other perfumes. Located about 15 Km. North of Cannes in the French Riviera is the town of Grasse, which has been manufacturing French perfume for the past four centuries. It houses the Musée International de la Parfumerie (the International Museum of Perfume).
In recent years, particularly at the cheaper end of the scale, the natural fragrances extracted from flowers and other plants have been largely replaced by chemically produced scents, which can be mass-produced anywhere in the world. But in the production of top-of-the-range high quality perfumes, made from natural extracts of plants, nothing can replace the acquired skills of France's master perfume producers. There is something in the secrets and techniques that are passed down from generation to generation under the Mediterranean sun in the area of Grasse, that just cannot be replicated of copied. In spite of the lucrative nature of the French perfume industry, other countries have so far found it impossible to challenge France's reputation as purveyor of fine perfumes to the world.
Perfume is made from essential oils obtained from plants. These are extracted by methods such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2) (the most gentle and the costliest) extraction; Pressing (oil from citrus rinds); Steam Distillation and Solvent extraction. These are mixed with fragrances, aroma compounds, fixatives and solvents. Although a single one can consist of tens to hundreds of ingredients, they can be grouped into four main groups: Primary Scents, Modifiers, Blenders and Fixatives. The mixing of them, by the best French perfume manufacturers, is a well guarded secret.
Most popular French perfumes as of 2008
Flower by Kenzo
Miss Dior Chérie
Jean-Paul Gaultier Classique,
Ange ou démon
Black XS for Her
L’Air du temps,
Ô de Lancôme
Fuel for Life pour Elle
See also: Great Perfume Houses of France