A few years ago my friend Karl was named French cultural attaché. Early into his first posting in Madras, India, he came back to Paris for a brief visit. At the time, I lived directly across the street from the Bon Marché. I was honored and thrilled when I heard that I would be one of the few whom he had the time to visit. When I shared this with him, he bashfully explained that my neighbor was the real reason for his visit. There were a few items he was desperately missing from home. Being an expat myself, I understood and was out the door before he could say “Pondicherry.”
First stop: the Diptyque counter. “A candle? You came all this way for a candle? A 35 euro candle??? You are going to spend 35 euros on a candle???” Karl kindly explained the intense pleasure of an aroma-enriched moment with a glass of port and the perfect book, but I was a bit stunned and rather rude, which made it all the more embarrassing when two weeks later I stopped dead in my tracks at the very same counter, drawn by the most pleasant scent I’ve ever run across. I simply had to have that smell in my home. The salesman knew immediately that the fragrance Baies had propelled me across the store. Five minutes later I had been initiated into the cult of home fragrance.
Diptyque’s fragrance Baies is my first love and still my favorite, although I prefer shopping in the candlemaker’s boutique these days, where the tones are warm and the ambience homey. Of course having been at its current address for only 50 years, Diptyque is still something of a newcomer when you consider that Cire Trudon has been dipping into wax since 1643. Its clients have included kings, emperors and movie stars. And if luxury brands like Hermès and Guerlain still use Cire Trudon for their candle needs, then that is enough of a referral for me. The sales staff is the most professional I’ve ever met in Paris, and it can help you find your favorite scent within two or three whiffs. Upstairs at the boutique, there are antique lamps and candleholders.
If you are a more contemporary soul, the Lostmarc’h candlemaker, from Brittany, is the place to head. Recently installed in the Marais, it features fragrances from the sea that are fresh and clean and a delight to live with. Lostmarc’h claims to use a special wax that makes its candles particularly fragrant and long lasting, which is lovely as you sit in the bath and the aroma whisks you off to faraway shores. Like Calgon, only farther.
Editor’s note: Buy your own Diptyque candle from our Amazon store.