What Does Petitgrain Smell Like and My Favorite Perfumes

What is petitgrain and how does it smell like? This iconic perfumery material is derived from the same plant as neroli and orange blossom absolute, bitter or Seville orange tree. Its name means “small grain” in French, and it refers to the fact that traditionally petitgrain was distilled from immature bitter orange fruit. Today, twigs and leaves are more likely to be used. And it smells heavenly–green, sparkling, bright, with a distinctive orange blossom accent.

My new video is devoted to everything petitgrain. I describe how it’s usually used in perfumery and then mention my favorite fragrances that illustrate the complex facets of this essential oil.

Here are the perfumes I mentioned in the video:

Guerlain Héritage
Mugler Cologne
Dior Addict
Jo Malone Osmanthus
Prada Infusion de Tubéreuse
Annick Goutal Néroli
Hermès Eau d’Orange Douce

If you are curious about orange and neroli, I invite you to watch the first video in the bitter orange series:

Perfumes mentioned in this video are the following ones:
Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger
Guerlain L’heure Bleue and Coty L’Origan
Jo Malone Orange Blossom
Atelier Cologne Grand Néroli
Tom Ford Neroli Portofino
Roger & Gallet Bois d’Orange
L’Artisan Seville à l’Aube should have been mentioned

What are your favorite petitgrain fragrances?

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12 Comments

  • Hilde: Dear Victoria. Thank you again for your informative video. Since I know your perfume blog I have learned yet a lot about fragrance families and perfume notes, such as now again you explain petitgrain.
    When you have not studied perfumery, some perfume ingredients don’t say anything. To give you an example: I have longtime thought that tuberose was a rose in the enormous family of roses. I am not a professional. I just like perfumes.

    I am a geat fan of – among other white flowers – neroli perfumes. One very lovely fragrance is Yves Rocher Secrets d’Essences Neroli, which has been discontinued. Luckilly I have found a very good replacement: Le Couvent Aqua Palmaris. It is really a very lovely perfume and I have much sympathy for this perfume house. April 5, 2021 at 8:58am Reply

  • Paola: What I suggest trying is not a fragrance but a detoxing night OIL for the face: caudalie vinactive night OIL.it is a concentrate of essential oils where petit grain plays a central role. When you apply it at night with a gentle massage you get the benefit of a deep relaxating effect and in the morning your skin is soft and bright. April 5, 2021 at 9:24am Reply

    • Klaas: Oh my, Paola, that sound divine! Will check it out…. April 6, 2021 at 3:55pm Reply

  • Jacqui: My favourite for petitgrain for many years been Toast’s petitgrain soap. April 5, 2021 at 4:52pm Reply

  • Toni: The video on Petitgrain is very informative.
    I was admiring the blossoms of my ultra dwarf Eureka Lemon tree when I noticed the fragrance was the same as a Petitgrain essential oil I have been diffusing.
    Could the composition of the soil affect the fragrance so that it smells like an orange?
    I continually attempt to find the perfume that perfectly matches the blossoms of the orange trees in citrus groves near me. One that I really like is Aether Arts Love for 3 Oranges. April 5, 2021 at 5:33pm Reply

  • Jan: Petigrain is listed as one of the ingredients in Dusita’s Erewan, a scent which I’ve fallen in love with. Are you familiar with this, Victoria? I’ll admit I did not like it at first, but I kept going back to the sample, and finally bought a bottle. There is something in this I love: maybe it’s the petigrain? April 5, 2021 at 7:47pm Reply

  • Klaas: Hey Jan, sage is the note that cought me off guard in Erawan. Soft and velvety, on a bed of hay and vanilla……it is a lovely perfume indeed! April 6, 2021 at 4:00pm Reply

  • Klaas: Petitgrain is wonderful! I smelled it on its own in the ingredient kit from the Osmotheque that I got a couple of years ago. To me it smelled dry, tart, citrussy and somehow full of energy! It also makes me think of tea. It is listed in my much loved Eau d’Hermes (a fairly recent discovery for me) and in Cologne Bigarade from Frederic Malle. Bit I’m sure it is used to great effect in many other fragrances! April 6, 2021 at 4:29pm Reply

  • Deborah: My favorite petigrain scent is Orange Santal et Petigrain by Outremer. I fell in love when it was made by L’Aromarine but the new version is very nice even without the sillage or strength of the original. April 6, 2021 at 8:49pm Reply

  • Andy: Petitgrain is indeed heavenly! Really, I’d love nothing more than for my whole life to smell like crushed orange leaves, so I have a small bottle of the essential oil for scenting baths and the like. I find it surprisingly strong for something citrus, so perhaps this is why it usually smells well-blended into perfumes rather than as a starring note. And though it might be expected in the cologne context, one of my favorite examples of petitgrain is nonetheless in Mugler Cologne. Such a nature-like note buried into the deliberately starchy aldehydes and cottony musks just feels somehow different. I always wanted to try Le Petitgrain by Miller Harris (based on the name only), but don’t know if it’s around anymore. April 7, 2021 at 9:36am Reply

  • Silvermoon: Thanks for the two very useful videos – so informative and interesting. I am a big fan of orange blossom perfumes (I certainly enjoy it more than neroli, although I don’t dislike neroli). L’Heure Bleu, JM Orange Blossom Cologne and Seville a l’Aube are among my favourite perfumes. And by chance, I am currently using the Roger & Gallet Bois d’Orange soap (a perfect pick me up spring and summer soap in the shower). April 9, 2021 at 4:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I’m glad that you liked it. It’s definitely such a great note, in all of its guises. April 13, 2021 at 6:13am Reply

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