Christian Dior Escale a Pondichery : Perfume Review

Escale a pondichery1

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

The summer has been chilly until the past couple of weeks, and I have been wearing ambers and orientals rather than fresh colognes. For this reason, I wasn’t in a rush to seek out the newest addition to the Dior “Voyage” collection, which debuted in 2008 with a light and fizzy Escale a Portofino. However, Escale à Pondichéry suits my current mood perfectly, for not only it has enough warmth to make its straightforward cologne structure enticing on a chilly summer day, but it evokes the memories of my Indian adventures. While my next trip is not until the winter, I am consoling myself with scents that remind me of India.

The former trading post of the French East India Company, Pondicherry provides an inspiration for Dior. The composition uses a number of ingredients that hint at its Indian spirit: jasmine that is central to Indian beauty and religious rituals, cardamom that spices its cuisine and tea that defines the Indian economy. A tea based cologne, Escale à Pondichéry weaves a simple story of hesperides and woods, but it also provides a number of lovely accents along the way. Thus, the lemon zest and camphor mélange characteristic of crushed cardamom pods sparkle in the top notes, while milky sandalwood provides a plush backdrop. Although I rarely think of colognes as sexy, Escale à Pondichéry fits that descriptive quite well.

Yet, as lovely as Escale à Pondichéry is, I have to admit that it is not particularly memorable. Nor is it essential to my fragrance wardrobe, for that matter. While I have been wearing it almost daily for the past couple of months, I imagine that at the end of the summer I would be ready to move onto something else, or perhaps to return to my other cologne favorites that have more personality, such as Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien, Chanel Eau de Cologne, and Frederic Malle Cologne Bigarade. For the time being, however, Escale à Pondichéry delights me.

Escale à Pondichéry skirts the gender boundary, and it would be equally suitable for both men and women. For a light composition, it is surprisingly long lasting and robust. It includes notes of black tea, cardamom, jasmine sambac, woods, musk.



  • MikeD: I liked both Escales enough to buy them, but after I used up the Portofino, I wasn’t tempted to repurchase. I guess there are plenty of other colognes I wanted to try instead. Well, your review summarized my feelings on this topic. I liked them, but they weren’t essential to my collection. July 13, 2009 at 3:54pm Reply

  • Samantha: Your reviews are so evocative! After reading your post I really want to try this perfume and I’m not even a fan of colognes. July 13, 2009 at 5:09pm Reply

  • Sveta: Now I want to try it even more! I love jasmine tea. 🙂 July 14, 2009 at 8:29am Reply

  • Elizabeth: So, jasmine and/or citrus scents will still be possible with all of the IFRA restrictions? That’s nice to know! I will still mourn Chanel No. 5 and Joy, though. They will never be the same with only tiny drops of Grasse jasmine. 🙁 July 14, 2009 at 9:53am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: MikeD, yes, we certainly have plenty of choices in colognes this summer! July 14, 2009 at 10:03am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Samantha, thank you! Try it, perhaps it will surprise you. July 14, 2009 at 10:03am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Sveta, I am drinking jasmine tea right now. It is one of my favorite teas. July 14, 2009 at 10:04am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Elizabeth, yes, they will be possible, because these materials are not banned outright. Citrus is now produced without elements that cause photosensitivity, and many of the newest oils I have smelled from various naturals suppliers are very nice. As for jasmine, the level at which it is restricted still allows for its usage. However, the main issue with jasmine is the price. Many brands simply cannot afford to add natural jasmine to fragrances even at the restricted levels. Of course, there are substitutes (and not just synthetic.) July 14, 2009 at 10:09am Reply

  • violetnoir: I have tested this, because I love the smell of cardamom and black tea. I agree with you that there are other summer fragrances that are more memorable like Rosine Un Zest de Rose (tea), Bond No.9 New York Fling (cardamom) and AG Neroli (perfect for hot weather). Escaled a Portofino is, frankly, more original and distinctive. But I will finish my sample and maybe purchase it if and when it goes to the discounters.

    Hugs! July 14, 2009 at 5:11pm Reply

  • Lavanya: Escale à Pondichéry sounds lovely- even though I am not a huge ‘fan’ of tea/tea scents (Though I do love the taste of Jasmine tea) July 14, 2009 at 3:55pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Lavanya, the scent of jasmine tea is so beautiful and ethereal. I often find this accord to be too jasmine heavy in most perfumes; however, in the Pondichery, jasmine is just a hint. It is certainly pretty. July 14, 2009 at 5:35pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: R, I also think that Escale a Portofino was a bit more interesting as a modern take on neroli cologne. Rosine Un Zest de Rose and AG Neroli are among my favorite summer fragrances too. I cannot picture a better rendition of a green rose bud than Un Zest de Rose. I wish that it came as a sorbet flavor. 🙂 July 14, 2009 at 5:37pm Reply

  • Dusan: Oh I loved both Escales, but haven’t bought either. Now that summer is on the wane, I feel I must have at least one. Which one is the question! 🙂 I enjoyed both your reviews, Vikochka. As always. xoxo September 15, 2009 at 4:44pm Reply

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