Caron French Cancan : Fragrance Review




Rated 4.5 out of 5.0


Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Playing up the stereotypes of Paris, in 1936 Caron’s perfumer Ernest Daltroff created a fragrance specifically for the American market. The fragrance was christened French Cancan in a slightly naughty allusion to the infamous cabaret dancers of Moulin Rouge, the shadowy image of which appears in the 1937 ad accompanying this review. Only in the postwar period did French Cancan returned home to Paris.

Whenever one describes a fragrance as sensual, visions of rose petals strewn across vanilla, amber haze and opulent night-blooming flowers come to mind. However, Daltroff manages to create a sensual fragrance by exploring the unique juxtaposition and slow development. French Cancan peels off one layer after another, first exposing a froth of jasmine and violet, touched by an almost gourmand almondy sweetness. Next comes a dark earthy rose, which sheds its petals slowly to reveal an arrestingly innocent touch of orange blossom. Like layers of transparent fabric change colors when arranged together, jasmine manages to darken the radiant sweetness of orange blossom.

As the fragrance dries down, cold iris dust melds the elements of the composition together. The final drydown notes take about two and a half hours to reach, although the dark Caron undercurrent is already manifesting its presence in the heart of the composition. French Cancan leaves one with silky richness of amber, sandalwood and oakmoss trio, and by endowing a composition with a degree of coolness, the effect is  alluring.

Notes: jasmine, lilac, violet, lily of the valley, rose, orange blossom, patchouli, iris, sandalwood, amber, oakmoss.

Note on reformulation May 2011: The original was a heady blend of various floral notes (jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, lilac) on a warm musky base. The new version is a cheaper variation on the theme. The Eau de Parfum is even less interesting.



  • parislondres: Dear V! Great review as always! This was a heavy one in the past but I grew to appreciate it – it is actually really elegant when not overused. I like it very much now.
    I love your new banner and graphics.

    Hope all is well.

    xoxo August 10, 2005 at 2:44am Reply

  • julien: One of the “youngest” smell from caron.

    Indeed,generally Caron perfumes have something beautifully old in their mind and construction.

    This one can easily be worn by a young woman.

    It is not my favorite one yet,but it is much more beautiful than many other perfumes,so it really deserves to be mentionned and known.

    Thanks for that.
    J. August 10, 2005 at 10:04am Reply

    These are wonderfull…but it is always the same to me,i am searching for the good perfume for me…in MALLE,LUTENS(now i found Cèdre :)),and CARON…

    Well,if you went on the avenue de Montaigne caron perfumery,you maybe met a young girl(about 25 years old)there.
    She is a friend of mine!:)

    This world is so little when you love people…

    Kisses dear.
    J. August 10, 2005 at 10:39am Reply

  • julien: So true..the boutique in avenue Montaigne is really little.
    If i am not making a mistake,i think there is another one Place beauvaux,near the Interior Minister’s office .
    En avion is really evolutive,it must take one hour to get the real flowery power,firts it is all amber and spices,too rich,maybe even agressive.
    I also love bellodgia.
    I think my favorite one is Narcisse Blanc,not as diva as its sister narcisse Noir,but softer,a kind of virginal scent,pure and true.
    Farnesiana is beautiful too,it reminds me a kind of l’HEURE BLEUE with almond.
    Caron perfumes are much more difficult to wear than we might think,i guess a woman who can make them hers can also achieve everything…maybe that’s your case!:)

    With love,J. August 10, 2005 at 10:58am Reply

  • Robin: I have a sample thanks to a very dear person, and need to get it out of the ever-growing pile and give it a try. It sounds very enticing despite the dark Caron undercurrent, which always scares me off… August 10, 2005 at 11:08am Reply

  • Victoria: Dear N, I also did not care for it at first, but when I revisited this fragrance recently, I felt that it perfectly blended sensuality and elegance, without resorting to the usual cliches.

    Thank you! P. helped a lot with them. 🙂
    xoxo August 10, 2005 at 9:50am Reply

  • Victoria: I agree, there are many Caron fragrances that are very obscure, and I think that French Cancan is one of them. It definitely should receive more publicity, because it is such a beautifully crafted fragrance! August 10, 2005 at 10:20am Reply

  • Campaspe: This was one I appreciated, but it didn’t work on me. Most evocative, though. When I reviewed it I wrote that it reminded me of a married Parisian lady in the 1920s; wrapped in furs, she is going to meet her illicit lover at a dive in Montparnasse. Cancan, indeed. Cue the Offenbach. August 10, 2005 at 10:40am Reply

  • Victoria: Dear J, I love all of those you mentioned. I reviewed all, but En Avion already (should be in the Index), as I have been wearing Caron perfumes a lot this summer. I will make sure I stop by Avenue de Montaigne boutique the next time. Usually, I go to rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré boutique, since it is bigger. August 10, 2005 at 10:49am Reply

  • Victoria: Dear F, perfect imagery! It just has something very seductive about it, besides the name. I loved its darkness. Cue Offenbach, indeed! August 10, 2005 at 10:54am Reply

  • Victoria: J, I agree–many Carons take a very long time to evolve. French Cancan took about 2.5 hours to drydown and slightly longer for the base to be completely evident. They are very unusual compositions, both back they were created and now. Daltroff’s genuis is clear! Now, that is a person who achieved a lot. August 10, 2005 at 11:02am Reply

  • Victoria: R, it is not as dark as some other Carons, but it is very beautiful. I admit that it requires some time to fully develop though, as most Carons. I would love to hear your thoughts. August 10, 2005 at 11:34am Reply

  • Robin: will try to do that this weekend. I look back longingly on my previous testing pace…I used to do easily 4-8 scents a day. Now it is usually 1 or 2. August 10, 2005 at 6:22pm Reply

  • Liz smellslikeleaves: I adore how this fragrance smells on a strip of paper, but something very, very wrong happens when it’s on my skin. I’ve sampled it multiple times from the Caron boutique, with the same disappointing result–sour, rancid, sharp, nasty, with absolutely no resemblance to the smell on the paper. Must be my crazy skin chemistry, alas! I’d love to smell French CanCan on skin that agrees with it. August 10, 2005 at 6:48pm Reply

  • Victoria: I cannot do more than 2 either. I do not even wear perfume on the weekends, especially because I also explore various EOs and absolutes, which means that my nose needs a rest for at least a day. August 10, 2005 at 6:31pm Reply

  • Diane: I am kicking myself for not trying this one on the skin. It’s right by Tabac Blond and I mindlessly ignored that side of the urn line-up, since I already know I love Tabac Blond. I adored it on the strip though. August 11, 2005 at 12:00am Reply

  • Victoria: Carons can be very difficult to wear, and I can completely understand the references to musty and sour, because that is the way they turn on some people. I am not sure what is causing that. August 10, 2005 at 8:23pm Reply

  • Victoria: I do not blame you, because those Urns can be overwhelming–the choice is just too great. I dismissed French Cancan when I smelled it on the strip, but when I sprayed it on my skin, it just blossomed. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on it.
    xoxo August 11, 2005 at 12:13am Reply

  • IRISJET’AIME: Il y a une parfumerie de Saint Laurent du Var qui vend ce parfum en extrait. Je meurs d’envie de l’acheter mais sa reformulation risque de me décevoir. Quel dommage que l’on reformule tous les bijoux de la parfumerie française. Quel gâchis.
    L’autre parfum de Caron que je rêve d’acheter est Tabac Blond.
    J’adore les parfums poudrés. Ils m’emmènent dans un Monde de rêve…. October 16, 2011 at 1:37pm Reply

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