Caron Third Man (Le 3eme Homme) : Perfume Review



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

Few fragrances tend to fall as much into the masculine domain as fougère. Based on the interplay of lavender, coumarin and oakmoss, the genre takes its name from the first abstract composition, Fougère Royale by Houbigant (1882). The combination of fresh and dry lavender with powdery sweet coumarin and oakmoss results in the juxtaposition of unexpected elements. If a term fougère signals an overplayed variation on the successful Cool Water by Davidoff, Caron Le 3ème Homme (Third Man) would be a pleasant surprise. It takes the concept of fougère and embellishes it with floral and spicy accords, as if orange blossom and jasmine were scattered among the blue of lavender and the darkness of woods.

Created in 1985, Le 3ème Homme derives its name from the 1949 film, The Third Man, starring Orson Welles. Lavender and tart citrus sparkle like champagne on the skin, before their effervescence subsides under the dominance of sweetness that comprises the main accord. …

Like a mysterious “third man” in the film, lavender is never patently obvious, and instead remains in the shadows. Rich floral heart lends a gentle tone to the classical refinement of the composition underscored by ambery warmth. The dry-fresh accord responsible for the fougère association is made less austere and softer, thus bestowing more subtlety upon the finished result.

While it is classified as a traditionally masculine fragrance, Le 3ème Homme dries down as musky and woody, with enough of a floral nuance to make it wearable for women who do not mind crispness of fougère. The indolic facet of jasmine compliments the sensual richness of musk, yet the composition does not fully soften into the voluptuous silkiness one might expect. A fresh element of its main accord continues to provide an uplifting sensation even long into the drydown.

Notes include lavender, rosemary, anise, bergamot, geranium, jasmine, rose, carnation, amber, musk, moss, cedarwood, patchouli, tonka, vanilla. Le 3ème Homme de Caron/Third Man/Number 3 is available from Caron boutiques.



  • Robin: Have not smelled the Le 3ème Homme, but have to add another plug for L’Anarchiste, which is one of my favorite of the masculine Carons. November 9, 2005 at 10:14am Reply

  • Evan: Thanks for writing this! I love Le 3ème Homme and wear it quite a bit, which says a lot since I don’t particularly care for many “masculines” and the ones I do admire I don’t usually wear. What a wonderfully balanced, beautiful perfume this is. All of Caron’s masculines are terrific, which I can say with confidence since I recently tested Yatagan for the first time and think it’s also wonderful (Well, maybe I can’t say they’re all terrific as I haven’t tried L’Anarchiste). As a matter of fact, nearly all of their feminines are superb as well. No small wonder they’re my hands down favorite perfume house. They’re sort of languishing in slight obscurity at the moment, perhaps because they don’t flirt themselves around like their cocotte cousin Guerlain (to borrow the funny comparison I first saw on your site).

    I urge anyone buying a gift for a gentleman (or the right lady) this Christmas consider Le 3ème Homme de Caron or any of the other Caron masculines (save the unknown L’Anarchiste), or also the beautiful and fun Royal Bain de Caron (which is great because it is available in 8.4 ounce bottles that you can dump in your bathtub!). I love evangelizing about the Caron masculines, especially Third Man. Thanks for helping spread the word, V! November 9, 2005 at 8:01am Reply

  • linda: Great review! I am also looking for a Christmas present for my husband. Third Man sounds like something he would like. Note to self: make a trip to the Caron boutique soon. 🙂 November 9, 2005 at 1:16pm Reply

  • Tania: I adore this one too, and have ever since I smelled on you, V. I could not believe it was a masculine, let alone that most masculine of genres, the fougère. I tried it again on my skin recently, and now I’m torn between buying this and buying Coup de Fouet! The flowers come out beautifully but never overwhelm. I need to spray it on Will, too, since I love it when he wears sweet flowers and vanillas, because he’s just so butch that it’s a perverse delight.

    Plus, the film it refers to is fantastic. You refer to it as starring Orson Welles, but the astonishing thing about Welles’s performance is that it’s a supporting role that steals the whole show.

    And Evan, L’Anarchiste is actually Will’s favorite Caron! If I recall correctly (only smelled it once) it has a bright spiced apple or something like that and a cozy almost gourmand drydown. I think. I’ll have to smell it again, but I remember thinking it was a pleasant surprise. November 9, 2005 at 10:07am Reply

  • Evan: Tania, Will seems to have quite a few unusual favorites! I’ll have to try L’Anarchiste, though given the current situation in France, it sort of seems in bad taste.

    And my advice is to buy both Coup de Fouet and Third Man, as the latter is available quite cheaply at a number of online discount retailers. November 9, 2005 at 10:29am Reply

  • Tania: Aha! Thanks, E. That Third Man is out there cheaper is good to know. November 9, 2005 at 10:36am Reply

  • Ayala: Thank you so much for the great review – it came in in perfect timing for me…
    I only recently heard about this masterpiece (I am sure it is without even smellig it yet) and ever since than I am obsessed with the idea of it as a gift for my partner. The Third Man is one of our favourite films of all times.
    Perfect music and Orson Wells is irresistible as always, without even being on the screen for most of the film…!
    He loves the Fougere I made for him (in fact he wouldn’t wear anything else), and I am pretty sure I can blindly get this for him and he will enjoy it. It has the notes he likes…

    By the way – is there any Lime in it for Harry Lime?
    God bless Caron! November 9, 2005 at 11:30am Reply

  • parislondres: Love the film and keep seeing this over and over again. Joseph Cotten’s performance was brill. Great review dear V.
    Hope you are well. 🙂
    Have a super weekend. Will catch up next week. November 9, 2005 at 12:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Evan, I am so glad to hear that you like this fragrance, because as I was writing the review, I thought that this combination might be perfect for you–classically elegant, yet with enough nuance to lift out of predictable domain.

    In general, Caron masculine fragrances are fantastic. They do work well on women as well, given their warm, gently vanillic bases. I am glad to see that there are more fans out there. November 9, 2005 at 12:29pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, yes, the best part of the film is his delayed entrance. The camera angles are excellent for creating the shady, tense atmosphere. There are many wonderful lines from the film, including a famous one, “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock …” However, I thought that the cuckoo clock was a German invention. Well, at any rate, the film is great.

    I remember spraying Le 3eme Homme on me at Caron for the first time and being suprised. It was not at all masculine–dark, floral and dry, and not a typical fougere. November 9, 2005 at 12:36pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I really enjoy L’Anarchiste as well. It is just as Tania describes it–bright spiced apple wrapped in tobacco leaves. I am thinking that you really need to try Le 3eme Homme. 🙂 November 9, 2005 at 12:38pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I agree with Evan–you can find Le 3eme Homme at quite reasonable prices online. I would search for Coup de Fouet online as well, especially Ebay. November 9, 2005 at 12:43pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, Will does have many unusual favourites. A man of taste–that is always great. 🙂 November 9, 2005 at 12:43pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ayala, The Third Man is the film I watched only once, but it has been haunting me ever since. I need to put it into my Netflix queue right away. Between you and Tania mentioning it, I know that it is time to revisit.

    Le 3eme Homme is quite a brilliant composition. The progression of accords is very smooth, and it seems as if one look at a beautiful polished stone, within which light causes the crystals to reflect colours. November 9, 2005 at 12:50pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear N, thank you. Your mention of The Third Man is the last incentive I need to see it again. Off into my queue it goes. Such a terrific film!

    Have a great day! November 9, 2005 at 12:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I am not sure if you are often in the area, but Caron boutique is very charming. I hear that they might be moving to another location, which saddens me. I love the place where they are located now, right on Madison Avenue (a block or so from Barneys). November 9, 2005 at 1:25pm Reply

  • Tania: As a general announcement, the NYC Caron boutique is having it’s semi-annual sale from Dec 4-10, so those of you whose curiosity is piqued ought to take advantage of the discounts! November 9, 2005 at 4:12pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, thank you! I am already thinking of that bottle of Poivre… November 9, 2005 at 6:53pm Reply

  • Evan: Tania, you made my day with that news. I hope it’s a real sale rather than one of those upscale sales that are like 5% off 😉

    I was thinking about getting a bottle of Poivre, V! And Tabac Blond. And Alpona. And Farnesiana. Decisions!

    As an aside, I also love that Pour Un Homme is available in a 25 ounce bottle. 25 ounces!!

    It’s horrible to hear that Caron might move; they haven’t even been there very long, have they? It instantly became my favorite store in New York (along with Kremer Pigments) when I went there. November 9, 2005 at 8:31pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Oh, it is a 20% off, if I rememeber correctly. So, the savings are quite substantial.

    Farnesiana is another one I really like. It is not the same in the EDP, even though it is still great.

    I am not sure for how long the store has been there, but like you, I really enjoy visiting it. If it is to move, it is going to be a couple of Avenues up. November 9, 2005 at 8:41pm Reply

  • Tania: I have worn it today, all the way to the far drydown, and now, twelve hours after I put it on, I have a deep balsamic amber that surprised me. I kept wondering what I’d put on that was so dark and sweet. Nothing but Troisième Homme. Weird! November 10, 2005 at 7:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Caron’s classical darkness! I am glad that their more modern fragrances feature it as well. I cannot say that it is very sweet on me, but the amber is definitely evident. November 10, 2005 at 8:58pm Reply

  • Breck: I come to this review in 2011. I just wanted to say that it is just as the perfume, crisp, to the point, without being overly so. Description is absolutely right on! August 13, 2011 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Ferris Egoiste: I just ordered Caron Third Man ( Le 3eme Homme) and I am so excited to try it out. Your description of this scent is mesmerizing. Caron Pour Un Homme is already one of my favorite go to fragrances, hopefully I can add this one to the list. Great review V! May 28, 2013 at 6:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Ferris! Hope that you enjoy Third Man. It’s a classic, and if you like aromatic, herbal blends, you will like it. May 29, 2013 at 6:04am Reply

  • John Luna: Please excuse my adding a note to a very old (but still relevant!) review, but I had a recent experience which changed the way I think about this fragrance and was curious to know if it was consistent with your experience.

    Over the holidays I was preparing an Indian meal… I don’t often do this, so I was trying to be as dutiful as I could to authentic aspects of the recipe, which involved toasting spices and grinding them in a mortar and pestle. I made a surprising discovery: freshly toasted and ground coriander seeds smell nothing like commercial ground coriander you buy in a bottle at the market… Instead, there is a startling range of odours: a warm, hay-like dustiness, and a sweetness that resembles dried flowers with with an almost syrupy, candied edge, and finally the acid, citric bite one typically associated with both fresh coriander (cilantro) and the commercial ground coriander sold in stores. This is the smell of Caron’s Third Man, almost exactly… For all its classic fougère trappings, its heart is a secret soliflor. Clove is still very present as well of course (it is quite brilliant the way that other notes — citrus, lavender, carnation and clove in particular — support and extend the impression of the coriander) but I could not escape this newly formed impression as I wore i today. December 27, 2019 at 3:18am Reply

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