The Art of Perfume Course : Grasse and Gardens

The first day of our perfumery course started at the Edmond Roudnitska garden and the Art et Parfum studios. I intended to give an overview of perfume techniques and to analyze some of the greatest perfume masterpieces, and this corner of Provence was the perfect start. Roudnitska founded Art et Parfum a year after the end of WWII, and this 70 year old enterprise is still thriving under the guidance of Michel Roudnitska, Edmond’s son and student.

Roudnitska’s garden is a beautiful place to visit, especially during the spring months when every leaf looks fresh and dewy and every blossom seems like a gem, but it’s not a museum to the great master. Besides Michel, three other perfumers work out of the studio–Céline Ellena and Eric and Jean-Claude Gigodot. Céline Ellena moves her hands when she talks as if conducting an invisible orchestra, and she’s utterly spellbinding. She shared her thoughts on perfumery and what makes her work as an independent creator both challenging and exciting.

“You have to suppress your ego when creating a perfume,” she said. “As a perfumer you’re interpreting someone else’s vision, and you have to listen well.”

“I hate the term “nose. We smell with our mind and we use our imagination to create far more than we use our noses.”

“Do I wear perfume? No. I can’t do it when I work. Would I ever create a perfume for myself? No, I don’t know how.”

I’ve decided to call Ellena an interpreter of dreams.

Another person who has a prominent role in Art et Parfum is Olivier Maure. Maure started by working with Edmond Roudnitska before creating his own studio, Accords et Parfums. The fragrances many of you love by perfumers like Bertrand Duchaufour, Thomas Fontaine et many other independent perfumers are made here. Maure  and Marjorie Bertocchi took us around the production site and showed how the final process of creating a perfume is done.

The famous Diorissimo patch was on the cusp of breaking into bloom, and even so, the air around it smelled of damp soil, fresh buds and that unique sweetness of Provencal spring.

Photography by Anna Kozlova.



  • Sandra: Beautiful ! April 17, 2017 at 8:42am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s such a gorgeous place. April 17, 2017 at 1:18pm Reply

  • Marion Niedringhaus: This was fabulous! Your photos are perfect! Have a great time! April 17, 2017 at 10:08am Reply

    • Victoria: Anna is a fabulous photographer! April 17, 2017 at 1:18pm Reply

  • AndreaR: Just lovely. Thank you for sharing! April 17, 2017 at 10:12am Reply

  • Joy: What an exciting time for you and the other attendees. The photos are beautiful. April 17, 2017 at 10:26am Reply

    • Victoria: It was a wonderful event. April 17, 2017 at 1:18pm Reply

      • Joy: I love the idea of a Diorissimo garden/patch. I keep trying to get one going, but think that slugs are preventing me from achieving my dream! April 17, 2017 at 3:41pm Reply

        • Victoria: You need a hedgehog to take care of the slugs! April 18, 2017 at 2:57am Reply

          • Joy: They are rather cute, little felliws! I don’t think we have them here, but this year I will try copper strips. Aparent lyrics it creates an electrical charge when the slug tries to go over it. April 18, 2017 at 11:44am Reply

            • LenaD: Joy, did you try to plant lily of the valley in a pot? April 18, 2017 at 3:18pm Reply

              • Joy: No, I haven’t. That is a good idea. I am assuming you have had success with planting them in a pot. I have purchased the pips and planted four times only to have them devoured. Thank you for the suggestion. April 18, 2017 at 3:28pm Reply

                • Victoria: I had mine in a small pot, and it worked out ok. April 19, 2017 at 12:58pm Reply

            • Victoria: We have a family of hedgehogs in our yard (at my grandmother’s), and last year one somehow got into the bathtub! He was cute but gruff. April 19, 2017 at 12:57pm Reply

  • spe: So fabulous! I was on the edge of my seat with the questions posed to Ellena.
    Victoria, who in perfumery might be wanting or needing Lily of the Valley extract today? Thank you. April 17, 2017 at 12:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: She was charismatic and eloquent. I’m glad that she works in that team and place, since I can’t think of a better studio for an independent perfumer.

      Lily of the valley can’t be extracted. Even if it could be, it would be far too expensive to be commercial. April 17, 2017 at 1:17pm Reply

  • Robert H.: Fabulous!! (Running off to spritz with vintage Diorissimo!!) April 17, 2017 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Vintage Diorissimo is a gem. I like the modern version of the extrait de parfum, but the EDP is a completely different formula. April 17, 2017 at 1:16pm Reply

  • Sarah: I am hoping to be able to attend next year’s workshop! What a delight it must have been! Thank you, Victoria and Anna for this update and lovely photos….❤️ April 17, 2017 at 5:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hope we can meet next time, Sarah. April 18, 2017 at 2:58am Reply

  • zephyr: Thank you, Victoria, for filling us in on some of the goings-on at your workshop, and for the great photos, too! April 17, 2017 at 8:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you enjoyed it. April 18, 2017 at 2:59am Reply

  • lena: Wonderful, just wonderful! Being here in the southern hemisphere and thus soon heading into winter, it makes my heart sing to see spring in all its glory.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. April 17, 2017 at 8:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: True. On the other hand, when it’s winter here, your mimosas are in bloom. It’s such a beautiful image. April 18, 2017 at 3:00am Reply

  • mazlifa: Many Thanks for this inspiring lovely piece. As always I look forward to your postings. Am interested to attend this course if possible. May I know the next intake details etc. I have no experience in perfume making just a penchant for it. Yet i dream to create or get a perfumer to help me to create one. I already have the name for it etc. April 18, 2017 at 12:02am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t have plans at the moment for another workshop, since I don’t yet know my availability. I will keep everyone posted.

      You don’t need to have a perfumery background to take my class, and we will learn professional techniques. Three days may not be enough to create a perfume, but I will teach you to compose an accord. April 18, 2017 at 3:02am Reply

  • Andy: Looks like such a wonderful course, in a dreamlike setting. Ellena especially seems like such a wonderful, warm character. It feels like a part of her personality is coming through the screen in that shot of her gesticulation! April 18, 2017 at 10:40am Reply

    • Andy: Reading and seeing a shot of that iconic garden patch reminds me, I was experimenting with a simple lily of the valley accord a few days ago, I suppose in my anticipation of the arrival of the blossoms here. Given my inexperience, I couldn’t believe how good it smelled mixed into a pot of unscented cream. April 18, 2017 at 11:08am Reply

      • Victoria: Very impressive, Andy! Isn’t it satisfying to make something like this? April 19, 2017 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Anna captured such a perfect moment. April 19, 2017 at 12:55pm Reply

  • Lydia: How wonderful! I would so love to participate in this someday. April 18, 2017 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hope to meet all of you at some point! April 19, 2017 at 12:53pm Reply

  • LenaD: Roudnitska’s garden looks so magical! Thank you for letting us pick into it with you! April 18, 2017 at 3:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: They definitely maintain it well. And the landscape itself is stunning. April 19, 2017 at 12:53pm Reply

  • Carla: What a beautiful blouse she’s wearing. Ha ma for sharing April 18, 2017 at 10:03pm Reply

  • Inma: Congratulations for your course! It seems to have been such a lovely experiencie – full of learning and enjoyment at the same time. April 19, 2017 at 9:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, all of us worked to that end, and as always, the group was enthusiastic and passionate, so it was a pleasure to learn together. April 19, 2017 at 12:55pm Reply

  • Notturno7: Beautiful and inspiring post! Thank you.
    The photos are stunning 😍❤️ April 20, 2017 at 4:46am Reply

    • Victoria: I loved working with Anna. Her images captured our experience perfectly. April 20, 2017 at 6:06am Reply

      • Notturno7: Anna is a wonderful artist. You both are!
        Glad you’re protecting your skin, too. I enjoyed your skincare tips😊💕in the past.
        Thank you April 20, 2017 at 2:20pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’m glad to hear it. I will share more. April 22, 2017 at 2:51am Reply

  • aurora: What an interesting bunch these people seem to be, a what a setting, congratulations on the class Victoria. Now I know first hand what an incredible teacher you are.

    PS Is it you in the black hat protecting your skin from the sun? April 20, 2017 at 7:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that’s me. The sun was very strong that day, especially for someone coming from Belgium.

      Thank you for your kind words! April 20, 2017 at 7:59am Reply

  • Chandler Burr: Celine Ellena: “I hate the term “nose. We smell with our mind and we use our imagination to create far more than we use our noses.”

    Victoria, I’m so damn glad you quoted her on this. She hates being called a “nose,” Jean-Claude hates being called a “nose,” and many perfumers privately loathe it and find it insulting. It is, indeed, insulting. I hope we can eliminate the term, and I’d like to make a plea on behalf of the perfumers who can’t say this publicly: please do not use the term nose, please don’t call perfumers “noses.” They’re perfumers. They’re artists. But as Edmond Roudnitska, who hated the term, famously said, “Rembrandt was not an eye, Mozart was not an ear, I am not a nose.” March 4, 2019 at 4:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s so reductive. Moreover, it offers support to those who argue that perfumery is a purely technical skill, hence perfumery is not an artistic pursuit. Yet, the term remains very popular, the nose, le nez, and it always surprises me when perfumers describe themselves as such. March 5, 2019 at 8:43am Reply

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