Travel & Shopping: 37 posts

Articles on travel, perfume shops, boutiques, and city guides to perfume shopping

Bluebell Forest of The Hallerbos

In Japan, there is a practice of shinrin-yoku or forest-bathing, which is a leisurely walk in the forest to reduce stress and improve one’s well-being. It’s like aromatherapy, but instead of inhaling a blended oil, you inhale the natural scents of the forest. But what if you forest-bathed surrounded by millions of bluebells? It’s something that you can experience every spring as the wild hyacinth bluebells turn the Hallerbos, a forest in the municipality of Halle, 30 minutes south of Brussels, into a blue colored, intensely perfumed fantasy.

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Bluebells have a delicate scent of green leaves, cloves and lemony roses, but when all of the flowers burst into bloom, the fragrance in the air is rich and heady. Imagine the fragrance of hyacinths at your local florist, dilute it with green tea and rainwater, add a dash of autumnal leaves, and you have the perfume of the Bluebell Forest.

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The Barcelona Perfume Museum (Museu del Perfum)

Whether you’re interested in art, food, fashion or perfume, Barcelona has plenty to offer. The capital of Catalonia, an autonomous community of Spain, it stretches along the Mediterranean Sea and looks towards The Pyrenees. It’s a major cultural hub in Europe, and you can spend an entire vacation simply exploring all of Barcelona’s treasures. While numerous guidebooks will help you build an activity packed itinerary without much effort, I want to highlight a little gem that’s all too easy to miss–the Barcelona Perfume Museum, or Museu del Perfum in Catalan.

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The museum was born in the 1960s, when Perfumería Regia, founded in 1928 by Don Josep Giralt, made its home on Passeig de Gràcia, one of the most glittering avenues in Barcelona. This is where you can find the masterpieces of Antoni Gaudí like Casa Batlló and Casa Milà “La Pedrera” and the delicate mosaics of Casa Lleó Morera by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Museu del Perfum is more modest by contrast, but its central location and unusual collection of more than five thousand perfume related artifacts makes it a worthwhile stop for a perfume lover.

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A Perfume Tour of Boston

Courtney takes us on a perfume walk around Boston.

At face value, Boston isn’t exactly a perfume destination. It lacks dedicated perfume boutiques like Aedes in New York or the Scent Bar in LA, and the culture of the city doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the celebration of fragrance (Bostonians have a bit too much Yankee practicality to fritter their energy and thought into perfume). But as a resident, I feel fortunate that I can try out a wide array of luxury and niche fragrances within a few subway stops, and if you find yourself in Boston there’s plenty of perfume to be found if you know where to look.

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The best part of the city for sniffing is Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, the center of shopping in Boston, with blocks of boutiques tucked into the brownstones of Newbury Street, as well the Copley Place and Prudential Center malls (adjacent to each other and conveniently joined by a sky bridge so you can shop your way from end to end in the winter without ever having to don your hat and gloves).

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Holiday Gift Ideas : Soaps, Creams, Makeup and More

In the last part of my holiday gift series, I’ve put together another eclectic collection of my favorite things. Some of them are scented, others are simply pretty: beautifully wrapped soaps, decadent body creams, jewel-like makeup … and cat shaped lipsticks.

Rancé Iris Royal Box of 6 Soaps

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Rancé has been making soaps since 1795, and purportedly the formulas remain unchanged. While I highly doubt it, the quality of their soaps is excellent. They’re triple milled, which means that the bars stay firm and last well. They’re scented with high-quality essences, and the aroma lingers delicately on your skin. Even those with sensitive skin–and I’m one of those people–won’t find this soap drying or irritating. Finally, the packaging is stunning, making Rancé’s soap sets a beautiful present.

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Holiday Gift Ideas : My Favorite Candles

I love giving gifts, and not just for Christmas. When I want to treat someone to a scented present, a candle is one of my top choices. By lighting the wick, you transform the ambiance of a room in just a matter of minutes. You can give L’Occitane Feuille de Figuier as a memento of the summer, or L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Thé et Pain d’Épices for a bit of winter holiday cheer. With Comme des Garcons’s Jalsaimer candle, you can send your friends on a tour of Rajasthani temples perfumed with myrrh and frankincense. It’s up to you to choose the fantasy.

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Although it’s easier to select a scented candle than a bottle of perfume, you should still research your recipient’s tastes. Is she a lover of all things sweet and floral? Does he like clean, understated colognes? In general, you have more leeway when it comes to home fragrances, because while someone may not like wearing gourmand perfumes, they will enjoy the scent of vanilla and gingerbread spices in the air.

Having come across my fair share of candles that were either badly scented and/or overpriced, I have little patience for high-end brands that don’t deliver on their promise.  A good-quality candle should have a strong smell when unlit, fill the space with perfume when burning and also retain its fragrance as long as wax remains in the jar. There should be no scents of soot, burning paper or wool, or other off-odors (assuming that you clip the wick regularly).

It’s best to burn your scented candle for no more than 2 hours at a time. But with the choices below, these 2 hours should be plenty to perfume the whole room.

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