Come fly with me… Jardins de Bagatelle by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

One blast on the burner and with a bright blue flame the balloon begins to rise.

There is the faintest chemical fragrance as liquid fuel gasifies before being turned almost instantly to fire.

The ascending heat mixes with sunlight and suddenly unobstructed views.

This is the very scent and sense of space.

Below the ground becomes an imperfect patchwork.

Its lawns of late April violets are purple squares.

Yellow flowers that from this distance seem but cannot be narcissi glimmer like cloth of gold.

Having left behind the highest flying bees at one hundred feet, you notice pollen still trails in the air on the very edge of invisibility.

You imagine an aerial fantasia of flowers, garlands of jasmine and tuberose suspended from lotus blossom clouds.

Looking down at the heart of the park a little way from the chateau, the shape of the rose gardens can only now be perceived in their true purpose.

Every bed is a petal and the dozen or so varieties each in their own divan together form a magnificent corolla.

This is the masterly centrepiece, rendered in damask silks and satins, woven onto nature’s quilt.

From here a filigree of white flowers made silver by separation from the eye radiate outward across the estate’s expanse.

Though surrounded by a near surfeit of air, the day is almost entirely without a breeze.

You remain, hanging on a nothing, in a moment apparently eternal, yourself in essence weightless.

Time passes.

The moment to descend arrives and for the first time you become aware of the cradle that contains you and the ground entreating your return.

On landing, the basket grazes the grass, releasing a greenness and some of its own wicker woodiness.

The Earth embraces you as you tumble out of your temporary travels.

Standing, shaking the dust free, you stare above at where you were.

Stretching arms skyward, you remember the atmosphere filled with unseen bouquets.

All now out of reach.

Until the next time.

Jardins de Bagatelle is human flight made fragrance.

With industry and engineering it raises the floral perfume above its normal terrestrial terrain.

True, some will not like the fact that to be transported thus requires propane, metal moving parts and an indelicate amount of heat.

So be it. To experience the sensation of being suspended as though on a floral cloud, peering down on manicured parkland, this seems a very small price to pay.

Aldehydes unquestionably own the opening.

A little softened by violet they provide the massive lift required to raise the burgeoning flower stuffed envelope of a scent off the ground.

Soon enough it becomes apparent that our basket’s cargo is primarily of white flowers, jasmine and tuberose principally, though there is blossom too and to my nose narcisse and not a little rose.

A complex and highly wrought affair there is an earthiness underneath,

A little vetiver and fir here perhaps, something that hints a return to the ground will always be necessary.

The overall effect is one of a rather beautiful but very much last-century-moderne bouquet wrapped in sparkling cellophane.

It is unfathomably fashionable to dislike this fragrance.

In truth it is an invention out of its time: a hot balloon in an age of jet liners and supersonic aeroplanes.

So much the better for it.

Let others be squashed into their sausage shaped and winged sardine cans.

I will always opt to fly open air.

There can be no more elegant means to ascend florally up, up and away.

On the last occasion I checked balloon flights were available to all, but few gentlemen these days seem to have the Montgolfiers’ courage.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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12 responses to “Come fly with me… Jardins de Bagatelle by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

  1. Lilybelle

    Another nice one, Mr. Dandy. As I am afashionable (I invented a new word) I suppose I am free to love or not love Jardins de Bagatelle as I please. I haven’t smelled it in years and years, and now I am dying to. I imagine it is hard to find now. Any fragrance that soars aloft is a fragrance for me. 🙂

    • Dearest Lily
      Afashionable? What a splendid new word!
      Jardins is still available at Guerlain counters, but is due to be down graded, though not discontinued. Sadly it just doesn’t sell anymore.
      It’s all down to the aldehydes I should think, some people have been tutored into not being able to abide them.
      A fundamental mistake as so many fine fragrances lead with the note.
      Do let me know how you get on won’t you?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Lilybelle

        I love aldehydes and they love me. That was not always the case, but as I’ve matured I’ve found a whole new world of fragrance to rediscover with fresh eyes and nose and…ahem…a different skin chemistry (and yes, that does exist!). Bon weekend, dear Mr. Dandy! If it is chilly there I hope you at least get to light a fire and wear Un Bois Vanille to warm you, maybe with a glass of cognac. 🙂

      • Dearest Lily
        All splendid thoughts, and yes, I do think aldehydes, rather like asparagus, are an acquired taste.
        But once the bug has bitten there can be no turning back!!
        Bon weekend
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  2. Alice

    dear Mr Dandy
    St John’s Lodge garden is one of my favourite spots in our fair city!
    What a lovely review, I am slowly learning to appreciate floral aldehydes, so will try this again the next time I pass a Guerlain counter.
    best wishes

    • Dear Alice
      So few people know about that secret garden and its splendid peacocks. It is a true hidden gem.
      You are quite right our modern noses can take a little a adjusting to aldehydes, especially the more flowery.
      However, to my mind the rewards are well worth the effort.
      Jardins is a complex quietly beautiful scent, though one which shows its workings a little.
      Well worth a try next time your gliding by a Guerlain counter.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Alice

        ‘complex quietly beautiful’ sounds just the thing, and fits the secret garden as well!

      • Dearest A
        Too true. The Regent’s Park itself, always my favourite, is more of a riddle than London’s other Royal recreation spaces. So much history, so much we have today that is not at all what was intended…
        Your ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  3. Dear Dandy,

    I’ve tried Bagatelle before but have no recollection about it (it was back when I still didn’t like Guerlain’s perfumes). But now I have to try it again! And you know why? Because I own that umbrella a picture of which you used in your review and I kept returning to it again and again – and now this is how I see that perfume.

    • Dear Undina
      What a splendid coincidence… no, we shall call it serendipity.
      Jardins is perhaps not a typical Guerlain, being so aldehylic to the point, some have remarked, of being ‘metallic’.
      I can certainly see, to a degree, what they mean, but for me this is a real floral high.
      Do tell how you get on, would be fascinated to know.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. I love Jardins! Nice to know I’m in good company.

    • Dear Annina
      It’s good to hear some support for this oft-forgotten classic.
      I’d almost expected not to like it myself, then I tried it again and was transported.
      I is a great big billowing thing.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

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