Guerlain L’Heure Bleue fragrance review

Blue SnakeGuerlain L'Heure Bleue perfume

During spring and summer, the Northwest has some of the most beautiful and dramatic “blue hours” I’ve ever experienced — the lustrous sky turns every shade of blue, from chalk blue to blue-black. While wearing Guerlain's L’Heure Bleue fragrance for the first time, I went outside with my cat (who is blue himself) and experienced a blue hour; I sat under my second-story porch, behind a curtain of blossoming clematis vines that swayed in the cool breeze, their pink and blue, vanilla-scented flowers glowed like stars against the dark shiny leaves of the laurel hedge. The ornery blue jays had gone to nest and refused to participate in my blue reverie, but a robin “trio” sang soothing avian folk songs till dark.

The “blue hour” is the time between sunset and nightfall when everything seems tinged with blue. I’m a lover of the blue hour; in fact, I like the world best between twilight and dawn. I could easily keep vampires’ hours, since bright sunny days wear me out, wear me down and make everything seem too focused, exposed and raw.

I’ll spare you the oft-told tale of the creation of L’Heure Bleue (easily read on Guerlain's website) but I will say that people who have reviewed this perfume often find it “sad” and “melancholy.” I bet many of those people love the daytime, the sun, brightness and heat. To me, L’Heure Bleue is “quiet,” not sad, but I do find it “chilly” and a bit harsh, especially in its extreme dry-down phase.

L’Heure Bleue was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1912. Its “floriental” recipe includes: bergamot, aniseed, carnation, orange blossom, heliotrope, Bulgarian rose, tuberose, iris, vanilla and musk. (It was the first Guerlain scent to use aldehydes.) L’Heure Bleue appeared seven short years before Mitsouko’s debut but it smells as if it came from a different era, another world. Mitsouko lives and breathes. L’Heure Bleue seems frozen.

L’Heure Bleue starts off with a strange bergamot-aniseed-floral accord that smells like a fancy medicated cream. L’Heure Bleue’s medicinal edge is comforting to me. As a child I was constantly burning, scraping, cutting, and puncturing myself; I fell off my bicycle at least twice a week, many times embedding tarry pebbles in my knees. I loved the smells of the pink lotions and pearlescent creams my parents or doctor would use to clean and disinfect my “wounds.” (And, no, I did not hurt myself for attention; I was clumsy!)

During L’Heure Bleue’s development, I smell a hint of medicated rose. L’Heure Bleue’s tuberose does not smell sultry, but mentholated (tuberose in mothballs anyone?) L’Heure Bleue’s carnations seem withered, not dewy and fresh, and its orange blossoms “deaden” as you smell them, turning from fresh into waxen flowers. (Did Lily Munster wear L’Heure Bleue?)

L’Heure Bleue’s clinical aura and abstract floral accords make it perfectly acceptable for a man to wear. L’Heure Bleue in Eau de Parfum strength is far superior to the Eau de Toilette but apply this scent with a light touch to ensure its most handsome aspects. When I applied L’Heure Bleue liberally the first few times I wore it, it created a disturbing chemical ‘haze’ during the dry down that affected my mood as well as my nostrils.

If snakes exuded scent, L’Heure Bleue would be the perfect fragrance to waft from their sinuous bodies and yawning mouths.

Note: “Blue Snake” photograph courtesy of Matej ''mat3jko'' Toman.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What a lovely review! I hate to admit it, but I've never smelled this one. That must change.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Gorgeous review….not so gorgeous fragrance. I'm sorry, I REALLY tried to love this (even like it) but I just couldn't. I believe people buy this one for the idea of it and the supposed story behind it. But I just think it smells confused and I'm going to say it, very old fashoned. It smells so perfumey and synthetic to my nose. Maybe I feel so strongly because I was told for years it would be a perfect scent for me. God, I hope to never smell like this!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Tom. In the Mitsouko-Vol de Nuit-L'Heure race for my affections, this one came in last, but you must try it. I'm curious what you'll think of it, K

  4. Anonymous says:

    HA! I don't LOVE it either and a small sample vial would last me a year…but the opening I DID find stangely appealing.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It does have an old fashioned feel, but I don't think that's such a bad thing, at least for me. I think Kevin was on to something in his hunch that people who are more appreciative of the bright daylight hours are perhaps not the best candidates for liking LHB. Also, so much is body chemistry, so perhaps it just does not work for you. I found that after I've not worn it for a few days, I start to miss the moodiness of it.

    Nice review. I really enjoyed reading how Kevin incorporated LHB into his own “blue hour”. And the blue snake is neat, too!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I always think of L'Heure Bleue as the classic Impressionist perfume. For me, its the olfactory equivalent of Monet's Rouen Cathedral series—a shimmering, incandescent, ever-changing, twist on traditional elements. The funny thing is that everyone considers Impressionism lovely and easy to appreciate now, but at the time it was considered daring and highly unconventional. Much like L'Heure Bleue is difficult to appreciate, with its anise and powdery character.

    The blue snake doesn't do it for me!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Isn't the blue snake cool? K

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sorry if the snake creeps you out…I did find L'Heure Bleue a bit reptilian at times. Interesting about Impressionism and your feelings for the perfume. For me L'Heure Blue would go perfectly with Odilon Redon works! K

  9. Anonymous says:

    I adore L'Heure Bleue. I lucked out a few weeks ago and found a one-ounce, vintage bottle of the extrait, about 2/3 full, for $12 at an antiques shop! The perfume is in great shape, too. I had a heck of a time getting the lid off, though.
    For me, the sweetness of tonka and earthiness of the orris (if that's what it is) warms L'Heure Bleue, leading to a nice tension with its medicinal smell. That warmth takes it out of “snake” territory for me. Or if it's a snake, it's a cobra rising from a barrel painted with gold filigrees to the sound of mysterious, oriental music.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Something in L'Heure Bleu doesn't agree with my nose, it almost turns my stomach. I've never dared to try it on skin, just smelling it on paper is an unpleasant enough experience. I need to go and spray it on a paper strip again soon, I think, it's been a while… I keep trying it every now and the to see if I still react the same way, it just baffles me, every time.
    I very much agree with the cold comments. It does smell cold and a little waxy to me, too. I don't know which note(s) it is that causes the problems with it for me; aniseed is never a good note on me, but I usually like it on others. Isn't there something akin to bitter almond in it, too? That just might be the part that throws me, I've never been a fan of bitter almond…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Angela, I imagine you dancing around that gilded barrel, tambourine going to town; the snake? charmed of course! (I had the most trouble with L'HB's base…so interesting how you find it so warm and inviting, K

  12. Anonymous says:

    Wow! What a find! I once found a half-ounce of vintage Joy parfum at an antiques market for $25, original box and all. It's sublime, but I spilled half of the precious stuff while prying open the bottle! Sigh.

    Guerlain and I are not friends. On me, Mitsouko is rotting peaches locked in an old spice cabinet, L'Heure Bleue is play-doh, and Vol de Nuit is a barnyard. And I've tried them in all forms, even pure parfum!

    Shalimar, however, was one of my first perfumes and I do love it so.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Angela: dang, where do you go antiquing? you hafta hook up your fellow portland-gal (me!). hee hee. what a great find!

    K: excellent review. i've only smelled this once, briefly, but was wicked intrigued nonetheless. now that i've read your review, my curiosity is totally piqued to sniff again… :)

  14. Anonymous says:

    L'Heure Bleue is the fragrance that I feel most sums me up. I like its oddities and its great pleasures. Kevin, I'm with you in liking dusk more than the brilliance of the day. Here's something to think about. I recently got a book on color called “More Alive with Color.” The author divides people into Sunrise, Sunlight, and Sunset. The latter wear oranges and such, the second, bright sunshine colors, but Sunrise people wear the subtle, mostly cool colors of the Blue Hour and dawn. Those are the colors I'm drawn to and that most suit my coloring. You might look into whether that works for you too. Thanks for a lovely review.

    • Greta says:

      I agree with you about L’Heure Bleue, I find it suits me perfectly. I have worn it for almost 50 years, occasionally interspersed with Mitsouko. I have very pale Irish skin and don’t like the bright of day either. Though I am not drawn to blues and purples, I do like greens and beiges. A sales person once told me it was designed for a fair-skinned, light-eyed woman.
      Many years ago I met the love of my life. Alas, we were both committed to others and parted for 10 years. His partner died, and previously I was divorced. When we finally got together on my birthday and Valentines’ Day, he brought me a bottle of L’Heure Bleue; he had remembered it all those years. He also brought me a framed print of Botticelli’s Venus and said I reminded him of her down to the Morton’s toe. We just celebrated our 26th anniversary.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Goodness, a barnyard for Vol de Nuit?! That's my second choice of the three you mention. I have not made any great perfume finds either in antique stores…only vintage CHARLIE perfume and Avon stuff. K

  16. Anonymous says:

    Indeed, I'm hitting the antiques malls in Portland next time I'm there. K

  17. Anonymous says:

    You're welcome. And judging from your notes on color I'm a Sunrise-Sunset man…love oranges, orange-reds and the cool blues, lavenders. K

  18. Anonymous says:

    Some bitter almond accords CAN be troublesome to the nose. I wonder if the aldehyde does not agree with you when it combines with the other notes, esp. the aniseed? Funny your comment: a friend I sprayed this on came to me later and said it gave her a stomach ache.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I live for the hinge times of day and my favorite scents are those that reflect that mood. I really like L'Heure Bleue parfum, but it's not actually my favorite scent for the hinge times (that would be more ISM or Encens et Lavande). Noon on a very bright sunny day can actually seem almost hostile to me – an excess of yang. No allowance for contemplative silence. The surfeit of fruity florals in department stores these days remind me of sunny noon scents – obnoxiously chipper and bright.
    Love the blue snake. Have an unusual number of snakes in my garden this year – none poisonous so far, but a couple that are quite rare in this area. I'm taking it as a good omen.

    • Sandi says:

      I’m reading these because I have just ordered a sample of L’Heure Bleue and your post rang bells with me. Noon on a bright August day (even here in the PNW) gives me a headache. It’s pushy, loud and says ‘Have a Nice Day!’ in such a cheery manner I almost want to slap it, lol. But, I am neither a ‘day’ person nor a summer lover. I also ordered VdN, Mitsouko and Shalimar (I’m not a mall person either) and am impatient for them to arrive.

      Am new to the blog but love it already. I can see many a pleasurable hour ahead of me wandering through it.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Darlin', I'd be playing the tonette, not the tambourine. I'm sure I have that tonette from fourth grade around somewhere….

    And yes, the guerlinade is my friend. I had to come to terms with Caron's mousse de saxe, but guerlinade has done me well from the get-go.

  21. Anonymous says:

    N, it was from one of the Stars antiques malls in Westmoreland. Just a lucky find, I guess. The only other perfume I saw was a rancid bottle of Just Call Me Maxi.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Lovely review!

    I want to like L'Heure Bleu because of the neat story of its creation. I'm also big fan of twighlight – here in the Pacific Northwest twighlight lasts a looong time. I enjoy wandering my neighborhood in springtime and taking in the fresh scents as the evening air hits the trees and flowers.

    Unfortunately L'Heure Blue just isn't right for me although I've grown to appreciate it more. It's simply too medicinal (Mitsouko is even worse on me). However I was delighted to sample Apres L'Ondee, which is to my mind a close cousin of LB, but without the musty apocothery smell. Many people also describe Apres L'Ondee, as sad, but I think if it as contemplative and quiet. It's my twighlight scent of choice!

    If only it were easier to find in North America!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Elle: where I live in Seattle I never see a snake OR a frog…and I miss that. True about the SHINY fruity florals…one needs sunglasses from the glare, K

  24. Anonymous says:

    Cheez: you are right…don't think I've ever seen Apres L'Ondee for sale anywhere…my stores here in SE have an abysmal selection of Guerlains. I like its scent on the air, but not on my skin.

  25. Anonymous says:

    After my Guerlain escapade I can't wait to try the Carons…love the SOUND of 'mousse de saxe'!

  26. Anonymous says:

    awesome, i love that place. they once had a good bunch of swatch watches. also: last week at coco & toulouse (right around the corner), i bought a small bottle of elizabeth w's rose edt. they had leaves, vetiver and ? citrus? just an fyi. ;)

  27. Anonymous says:

    Nice work, fellow Seattleite … you captured it! xoxo

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Mireille…very sweet of you! K

  29. Anonymous says:

    It's funny that you should reference snakes in this description–I sort of imagined the same thing upon smelling it; the quiet, rythmic movement of a reptile.

    That being said, I have no aversion to creepy-crawlies whatsoever. On the contrary, it can be very soothing to watch a spider weave a web or a worm tow the soil. “L'Heure Bleue” won't inspire depression in those who are not in danger of it (beware, those of you who are) but it will inspire a bizzare kind of emotional state (that odd drydown, you were talking of–you could almost suspect some “inspirational” substance had been added). You'll feel wistful–almost nostalgic for a time and place you may not belong to. Like some powdered french court of the 1700's or an Art Deco dance hall. The song that always pops into my head when I smell this is “I'll be seeing you” by Billie Holiday; touchingly mellow without being dramatically heartbreaking. “L' Heure Bleue” has a fuzziness/haziness to it–like that song– that will make you think of scratchy records, quiet sunsets, crickets in the night and coffee at 2am. It's a midsummer's night's dream…this fragrance evokes time, suspended.

  30. Anonymous says:

    NLB: You have great associations with L'Heure Bleue…I love your reference to scratchy records (I love the sound of very old records being played).

    Hmmm. For me L'Heure Bleue brings to mind Reynaldo Hahn songs…Korngold?…

  31. Anonymous says:

    Oh no, 'vintage' Charlie! LOL! Your saying that makes me feel so old: I was already an adult when it came out. I worked in a theatre in London and used to drench myself in this new and wonderful perfume in one of the Oxford Street department stores every evening before going to work.

  32. Anonymous says:

    L'Heure Bleue is one of the vintage perfumes I wanted to try, but reading your review Kevin makes me a bit cautious now. I immediately thought of the quiet despair of Passage d'Enfer. The opening and the body of Passage gives me that creepy-chilly feeling, but ironically very soothing and peaceful on the drydown. Mitsouko has a bit of that sadness though, but overall is spicy and bold in extrait form. Vol de Nuit on the other hand is absolutely beautiful, but the EdT is pathetic! VdN opens beautifully, then becomes quiet and practically gone after 2 hours–it's Cologne in EdT clothing. The extrait is not so easy to find at a reasonable price either nowadays.

    Great review, Kevin, it has definitely piqued my curiosity of L'Heure Bleue even more.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Kevin for the review. I was looking for L'Heure Bleu review in Now Smell This three day ago and then you wrote it.

    I love L'Heure Bleue because it is different from all the other scent I know and I never met a woman wearing it. I use to wear Eternity, Shalimar, Fracas and Ma Griffe (today), but in spring I love LHB because it reminds me of a hidden drawer, wallpaper, a cozy apartment in a a small city, the comfort of a warm Lapsang Souchong tea after a rainy day, an antique shop.

    I found it rather sexy and it doesn't give me depression at all. I admit it seem cold but only at first smell, then it is very subtle and changes from the moment you spray until evening. I know it's not easy to appreciate, but it's worth a try.

  34. Anonymous says:

    iMAV: stay away from the EdT on this one…not because of tenacity issues but because it does not smell good. It's really sad that it's so difficult to sample these at perfume shops…one usually has to order samples. K

  35. Anonymous says:

    Pillina: Glad to oblige with a “timely” review! L'Heure Bleue is very “atmospheric” and conjures up many worlds for its admirers. I like the “wallpaper” reference of yours…I can smell a small wallpapered room on a damp spring day…but it must be OLD wallpaper. Hope to review Vol de Nuit soon. K

  36. Anonymous says:

    Your comment about the Billie Holiday song made me think that an alternate title for this review could be “Kind of Bleue”. Scratchy records indeed – perfect!

  37. Anonymous says:

    Kevin S: your writing is fabulous in capturing the mood of a fragrance, both for Mitsouko and LHB. It's wonderful that you are opening up the use of these fragrances for both genders. The Guerlain fragrance trainer from Paris told me that Jicky was created for women but because of the Victorian sensibilites of the times they rejected it. They couldn't possibly wear perfume on their skin. So—men wore it. It wasn't until the 20's that women began to wear it. While one may not like to wear a particular fragrance, this does not mean one can't appreciate it. LHB is truly unique amongst all Guerlains but just too sweet for me. I like the dryness of Mitsouko but can wear it only in EDT. Vol de Nuit can easily be a men's fragrance. I breathlessly await your review from the man's perspective.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Celestia: thank you for your kind words. I love writing about the Guerlains because they have such character…and like you say, one does not need to love a scent or even find it wearable to still appreciate it. K

  39. Anonymous says:

    Thank you–I enjoyed your review so much that my mind ran away with it.

    Reynold Hahn and Korngold–almost a hint of requiem to “LHB”, then…haha?

  40. Anonymous says:

    Ha–that's excellent! An appropriate substitute. There's such a mellowness to “LHB”; whenever I smell it, I imagine some jazz music lazily playing from a distance.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I can sense a rainy-day dampness to this fragrance, as well. I'm not even sure if I like it, except that it fascinates me. Some people even consider it cryptlike–while to others, it's nothing but worn old sweaters and coziness. I could almost imagine it on a character like Mina Murray from “Dracula”. Isn't it peculiar how we each react so differently to the same fragrances?

    I agree that the EDT is a mess of an interpretation–almost like a box of tissues. The EDP is the only way to go with “LHB”.

    I can't wait for the Vol de Nuit review!

  42. Anonymous says:

    Good comparison…the EdT smelling like a box of scented tissues! K

  43. Anonymous says:

    Brilliantly written! Thanks for reviewing female scents from a man's point of view!! I do think it radiates melancholy. If anyone has seen the grand exhibition about melancholy in Paris/Berlin 2005/2006: They should have left a tester of L'Heure Bleu beside the Caspar David Friedrich paintings.

    About two years ago I started sniffing myself through the round Guerlain table at Berlin's old KaDeWe department store. I love Guerlain. I remember how much it puzzled me after a sniff of the rather modern Jacky (despite it being older) to smell the in contrast fascinating “oldworldlyness” of L'HB. Seeing how my eyes widened, my mouth tonelessly shaping the words “orange blossoms”, the sales woman didn't hesitate to fill a sample for me. Among the G-perfumes for women L'HB was the that touched me most (can't stand fruity notes).

    My then flatmate, who wears Orientals, C Monsieur and No5, is from Saarland near the French border. When I made him smell L'HB he cried out “OMG, now I know what it is those old French women smelled off”. That was the last time I wore it. I hadn't dared to really wear it before – despite loving it I find it very difficult on a man. Maybe it's the bitter-sweetness of the carnation/tuberose/rose combination? I love powdery men's perfumes, Hamam is one of the most original man's scents ever created and I love some rather feminine unisex scents (Eau de Hermes, Scent by Costume National – btw: why can't i find it in your blog?!!!). When the “medicated” accord fades the oriental vanillic tonka (?) dry-down is wonderful on a man's skin though and: Very Guerlain.

    (Sorry for writing so much!)

  44. Anonymous says:

    LL: Thanks..and never apologize for writing “too much!” I find Vol de Nuit “difficult” to wear as well, but I certainly can appreciate it. I LOVE Hammam Bouquet by Penhaligon's…powdery and very original. I wore Hammam Bouquet for the very first time on my first trip to Paris…so it has great “connections” for me. (Don't get me started on the KaDeWe department store — the food department there was so great I never made it to the perfumes….) K

  45. Anonymous says:

    Thanx Kevin. Did you really mean Vol de Nuit? I commented on L'Heure Bleu. I don't yet know Vol de Nuit.

    The food department is famous in Berlin, but I'm not typical customer – moneywise… They have the nicest Perfume Department I know. I'm not sure if it's huge compared to others but they have things I couldn't find in other places for example Harrod's in London, although Harrod's say they have everything… They renovated last year and I hope you have the chance to have a look one day.

    Isn't it amazing how a perfume created in 1872 (!) still “works” in our modern world? Hammam Bouquet is the oldest perfume on the market created especially for men, isn't it? L

  46. Anonymous says:

    Lars: Sorry! Yes, I meant L'Heure Bleue…(Vol de Nuit was on my mind since my review posted recently). I don't know if Hammam Bouquet is the oldest perfume created for men that's still sold…good question. I know an American company, Caswell-Massey, sells two colognes that pre-date Hammam: No. 6 (1789), supposedly a favorite of George Washington!; and Jockey Club (1840). K

  47. Anonymous says:

    There is an Original Eau De Cologne made in 1709…

    Don't know if it is still in production but by the look of the website, it looks like it is.

    Going back to LHB – I find that I like it quite a bit, especially the powdery musky basenotes. But like you I tend to use Mitsouko a bit more though (not just “like”, I think I am addicted!) I'd never tried VdN, would like to try it one day!

  48. Anonymous says:

    ellaborat: Yes, it is still in production. Supposedly THE Johann Maria Farina cologne (like allegedly also the 4711 Kölnisch Wasser). I've seen it in Berlin's Manufaktum shop ( they have a range of rare niche colognes and parfums – everyone here: check it out, EVERYTHING they sell is special). It comes in a sort of long test tube that has to ly flat, quite elegant. They call it Rosoli-Flacon. Roger & Gallet's georgeous “extra vielle” is also signed Jean Marie Farina – He must have travelled a lot… Or his recipe. There are lots of refreshing colognes, originally sold as medical tinctures in the 18th century. But as far as I know Penhaligon's Hammam Bouquet is the oldest “not cologne”, not cedrate, highly concentrated fragrance for men. Compared it to L'HB recently and found they have something in common (a clumsy attempt to get back to the topic of this page…)

  49. Anonymous says:

    Elaborate: Yes, try the Vol de Nuit when you have the chance…don't know where you live but it's very difficult to sample here in the U.S. And thanks for the eau de cologne link, K

  50. Anonymous says:

    Thanks a lot for the info. As the website looks so basic I was left wondering whether it was a hobbyist site or the real thing. Thanks for confirming that the shop is still up and running. I have tried the Hammam Bouquet and the LHB but didn't spot the similarity between the two. I should try again!!

  51. Anonymous says:

    Lo and behold! I came across a tester bottle of the LHB at Neimans, sadly they only had the EdT but surprised they had it at all! It developed rapidly, from a sweet warm floral, at that point I thought it a dangerous scent for a guy to wear, but then it developed rather quickly, being able to smell the aniseed only but a few minutes, revealing its layers rather intriguingly yet with clarity. Maybe a bit medicinal, but barely present to bother me at all. Then, you get a lot of that dry iris with green notes like that of Vol de Nuit, much more, and less powderiness which is a plus. That iris accord is what I like most about Vol de Nuit and L'HB has more of it.

    Vol de Nuit is perhaps a better choice for men IMO, and interestingly enough, there seems to be a greater sadness and solace in VdN compared to L'HB. Despite VdN being a better choice for guys, L'HB is a must have for me as well.

    I was impressed with the L'HB EdT Kevin, so I think I'll work at finding an EdP to treasure! ;)

  52. Anonymous says:

    After months of reading, I've finally decided to comment. Firstly, AMAZING blog that has provided hours of happy reading. I think it's safe to say that I'm in phase 2 of my relationship with perfume: the compulsive buying phase.

    I took quite a bit of effort for me to spray on L'heure Bleue due to a rather stubborn saleswoman (“Mais Monsieur, c'est pour femme!”), but I was absolutely blown away. Chilly and a bit harsh, but quiet and introspective are exactly what I got from it. It was an absolute pleasure throughout the drydown, and I could not stop smelling my wrist.

    Next quest: trying out Poison on skin (saleswoman was adamant that i spray on a strip because it was “an old lady scent”).

  53. Anonymous says:

    MI-CUIT: first, thanks for your FIRST comment! I'm glad you stood your ground and tried on L'H Bleue. (Did you buy a bottle?) As for the saleswoman telling you ANY scent was an “old lady scent” — I see it's time for me to don my SUPER PERFUME-MAN costume and swoop down and dunk her head in Poison for 24 hours. I really HATE it when scents are described as “old man” or “old lady” fragrances … not an original, or helpful, way to discuss a perfume. K

  54. Anonymous says:

    I was unfortunately a bit short on cash after extensive christmas shopping, but I intend to buy a bottle (which i find beautiful btw) at the first opportunity.

    As for Poison, I really don't see why it's been labelled as an “old lady scent”, I found it to be seething with barely suppressed energy and sexuality.

  55. Anonymous says:

    Update: I am now the proud owner of L'Heure Bleue in the golden metallic refillable bottle :)

  56. Anonymous says:

    MC: congratulations!

  57. Anonymous says:

    This is a gorgeus description and i fell in love with the scent, which I dicovered in Hamburg/Germany in the luxury perfumery Hamburger Hof. The rep there gave me two fragrances which matched perfectly after describing him what i was looking for. The scent was oily and heavy and developed to a sweet innocent laundry dryness after hours and hours, it lasted really long. In fact i can still smell it when i think of it. Of course my friends had another conclusion: both were reminded of the soap their grandma used. there is nothing soapy abot it. it has a uncommon strength though and i think you have to have it or at least to know it when ist comes to beeing a perfumista.

    i would face it on a men, but that men will never come my way-a misterious dark person whom you meet and loose the same day. in a blue hour.

  58. Anonymous says:

    At 18 this was the first perfume I picked out for myself. It smelled nothing like Houbigant's Quelques Fleurs or anything else I'd been given. I was hooked on perfume. For decades I've skipped scent because of gardening and attracting insects while outside. I'm getting into it again but wish I could find old chestnuts like Fleurs d'Elle by Nettie Rosenstein and Cabochard by Gres?

  59. Anonymous says:

    Well – I sprayed some of the pure parfum on my arm yesterday at Harrods. I was utterly enchanted. This is definitely one that suits me, both chemically and personally. I didn't find it old-fashioned at all. And anyway – vintage clothes have been all the rage for a while, and no one finds that old-fashioned! What's wrong with wearing an 'old' perfume in the 21st century, in modern clothes as a modern woman?! I think that is a rather unusual, intriguing combination actually!

    I agree with many comments in this trail – there is something quiet, introspective, magical and other worldly about L'Heure Bleue. I felt womanly, inaccessible and unobtainable in it. Yes, there is something cold about it – but exquisitely delicate and beautiful too.

    You know – the image of being in a rain-drenched garden at dusk did come to mind. I could smell the florals shimmering under a blanket of hazy mist. You can sense they are there, not quite able to burst through. Slightly subdued.

    Oh, I just adored it! It is one of the most evocative scents i have ever worn. I will save-up for a small bottle of L'HB, for my special evening scent! I'll try the EdP too, see if it's as good as the pure stuff (and cheaper!) Does anyone have a preference/comparison?

    Thanks for the lovely review – it's what prompted me to try it.

  60. Anonymous says:

    BTW – I read somewhere recently that it is one of Kate Moss's favourites – she wore it to her last birhtday party!

  61. Anonymous says:

    Blimunda: glad you had such a great experience with L'Heure Bleue!

  62. Veronika says:

    Dear K!
    This review has been stolen from you and posted here

    Even the snake! I just thought that you have to know.

  63. mals86 says:

    Late to the party… as usual… but wanted to know if there is a tremendous difference between the edt and edp formulations. Seems that’s true for many of the classic Guerlains, the edt being sharper than the richer stuff. I could not wear Shalimar at all in edt or modern edp, but found a vintage bottle of pdt that’s fabulous. Likewise, Mitsy in edt is the b*tchiest thing I’ve ever put on my arm. Anyway, when I first tested L’HB, it was in edt, which smelled great in the vial but was Medicine Cabinet of Hell on my skin; although I tend to love linimenty smells, the edt was just awful. Today I’m testing edp, and it’s really lovely, Apres l’Ondee meets Porter’s Liniment Salve (which contains clove oil, sassafras oil, and myrrh, and brings back my bumps-and-bruises childhood in a comforting, fix-my-ouchies way). I’m not nuts on the Guerlain concentration differences, am I?

    • Kevin says:

      mals: no, there are very distinct differences between the edt and edp (and parfum, straight up) formulas. Most of the time I prefer the edts for the older scents…I like “sharp” compared to womanly- mellow most of the time. HA!

  64. skalolazka says:

    Well, I’m even later to the party. I just tried LHB for the first time (edp spray) and I do…not…like…it. I seem to be in the minority for whom this one is stomach-churning. In fact, my partner and I agree that it reminds us of nothing so much as (sorry) urinal cakes, and, after coping with it for an hour, I ran to the shower to scrub it off.

    Is it possible that I got a bad bottle? Yes, I know, shame on me for buying unsmelled; it came from a discounter, and I was in the mood for a modest splurge, having just completed a major project; between Kevin’s review here and LT’s in The Guide, I thought I would LOVE this one. The other fragrance I bought worked out better!

    • Kevin says:

      skalolazka: oh, I know many who do not like this one…. You can always try a spritz from a bottle in a shop, but I doubt your bottle is “bad”…but you never know. You probably just don’t like it! HA! AND NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY to buying unsniffed…terrible.

      • skalolazka says:

        Yes, I have learned my lesson. No more unsniffed full bottles, ever, ever, ever. Sigh. And you’re right, I probably just don’t like it, but I’m still trying to figure out how on earth anyone could find a “praline” element in this fragrance. (Yeah, I know, chemistry, noses, training, etc.)

  65. platinum14 says:

    Just tried it today for the first time.
    I love it , which was a pleasant surprised since I sooooo hate Mitsouko. (there! I’ve said it! Let the stoning begin!)
    But the first visual I got from LB was that of a new born bady, freshly bathed and powdered sleeping peacefully. Something very quiet, peaceful and ……. motherly. I find that there is also something a bit intellectual about this one.
    Ah well! I will just have to put it on my “to buy” list.

    • annemarie says:

      A SA at a Guerlain counter once told me that people who like Mitsouko tend not to like L’Heure Bleue, and vice versa. I like Mitsouko and so far have not liked LB. But I’m going to keep trying.

  66. lornaw says:

    this is my sisters perfume its glorious . I have borrowed it so often that i was pointedly told to buy my own. Interestingly i bought he a bottle at guerlain in paris and the ladies in the shop kept trying to steer me to the most recet releases – maybe jeans and a tshirt isnt a good l’heur blue look !

  67. orang says:

    I love the extrait, synthetic and sublime. Alas, the miniature bottle I own won’t last forever, so I got hold of a full size bottle of Eau de Cologne – it’s the simplistic one with the blue/white-circle in the middle. The bottle is still sealed, so I was wondering if anyone could help me with …
    1) advice how to open a sealed botte (a solid aluminium stopper or something like this is in the way)
    2) opinions whether the eau de cologne version is worth opening at all. I just read about the poor rates on the eau de toilette, and although this bottle seems to be vintage, the EdC concentration is even lower than the EdT.

    Any ideas?

    • dee says:

      To answer your second question (waaay late, I know) the eau de cologne version is worth opening! For some reason, those vintage edc’s are quite good. I couldn’t afford extrait right off the bat, and started with the vintage edc. Eventually got the extrait, but the edc is a beloved treasure.
      Enjoy it!

      *although I do recommend decanting some into a spray bottle. much easier to apply : )

  68. says:

    I recently spent an absolutely obscene amount of money for a bottle of EDP at France at EPCOT. Now I’m terrified to open it, as it seems the stopper is stuck. I’m scared if I yank on it, I will fling perfume all over the bathroom. So there it sits, mocking me, as if I’m not good enough to wear it.

    • Kevin says:

      News: oh, dear! Maybe someone will come along with “professional” advice. I had that same thing happen with a vintage bottle and I simply wrapped the bottle, in upright position, in a warm washcloth and was able to get the stopper out without breaking it (the worst) or spilling perfume. After the warmth penetrates the stopper area…slowly move the stopper from side to side, round and round…VERY GENTLY, VERY PATIENTLY. If you feel like screaming…set down the bottle and LEAVE THE AREA for awhile. Let me know if you get it opened.

  69. RedFlavorRed says:

    L’Heure Bleue
    And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom ~Anais Nin~

    The blue hour perfume hesitates
    a turquoise tear, before falling
    cerulean through her hourglass night;
    a mauve nocturne of
    low saxophone notes
    and amaretto sorrows
    echoing footfalls of younger years
    departing her dark almond-forest hair;
    and she listens, eyes kept closed
    so as not to awaken
    a dream about to come true,
    blossoming within herself
    an indigo rose
    unfolding lavender lovers
    pressed violet against her lips.

  70. beck says:

    I have just found your blog and I love the language used in your reviews – speaking about perfume on the internet seemed absurd when I initially looked for a review, yet it actually demands poetry.

    My mother has a bottle of L’Heure Bleue that my grandmother bought in Paris before WW2 (when we were rich, as she used to explain to me, who has never been rich). I would sniff it and dream. Once when I thought I was old enough I tried wearing it but it was all wrong and I never did it again.

  71. pauliestarr86 says:

    I’ve been wanting this fragrance for awhile since I love most guerlain fragrances, and knew it was hard to find so I went to one of my broadway discount spots and to my joy found a 2.5 oz bottle of eau de parfum for 80 dollars i didn’t know if I wanted to spend that much money on a classic perfume so I walked all of broadway looking for it couldn’t find it so I went back and bit the bullet so to speak lol. l’heure bleue was up against annick goutal quel amour so of course i had to pick l’heure bleue! I opened the box and fell in love I bought it unsniffed but definitely didn’t regret it. It smells very familiar but I can’t place the memory. l’heure bleue definitely grew on me through out the day but I can definitely sense the “melancholy” and “sad” feelings of it. It smells very medicated like a 1950’s skin cream; The anis seed stays all the way through ontop of powdery florals at the end a slight hint of vanilla. I definitely can see lily munster or morticia adams wearing l’heure bleue lol and bette davis or joan crawford going through a psychotic episode screaming about wire hangers lol My boyfriend thought I smelled like an old candle but I thought I smelled like heaven lol

  72. Maharani says:


    Im new to the board. Lovely review but I have to disagree with most of it. I love L’Heure Bleue and personally find Luca Turin’s description-Guerlain the virtual pastry chef -spot on. So something that reminds me of pastry cannot be cold or waxen or medicinal and certainly isnt to me. I dont find it reptilian or wilted. I also adore Mitsouko, so for me personally that dichotomy between the 2 doesnt exist, though I do wear them in different moods and for different occasions. To me, L’Heure Bleue is warm and comforting, very interesting, quite different from anything else out there-so I wear it privately as most people I know either squeal or go on about their allergies. Im a Guerlain lover which might explain my feelings.

  73. misschips says:

    Better late than never, no?
    I am entirely new to this party, but I have to say how wonderful it is to read such passionate opinions, and so well-written! Kevin, the review was superb.
    The ‘blue hour’ has always been my favourite time of day. The colours, especially greens, in that particular light seem both brighter and more dull, and the cool after baking in the sun is balm on the skin. So, when I first read about L’Heure Bleu, I had to try it! I got a spray from a boutique in the city and shortly met my fiance at a bar in the rooftops. The sun was going down, and as we talked the moon climbed through the deepening blue sky, past trees, chimneys and steeples. The anisic bitter-almond in the top notes (I quite understand those who find it medicinal) nicely overlaid the beginning of the evening (and perfectly complemented the absinthe in the Corpse Revivers!), while later sweet, spiced notes reminiscent of baklava, or nougat perhaps, enveloped me in a warm haze of happiness as I gazed at my love. Every time now that I wear L’Heure Bleu, I am reminded of that evening, and the story of the perfume’s creation, and feel as though perhaps I have inadvertently stumbled upon one of the world’s great treasures.

  74. sugarplum says:

    Kevin, your point about applying with a light hand is well taken. While I can happily douse myself in Shalimar—layering EDT and the extrait OVER Kouros, for pity’s sake! with a little of the body lotion on my arms and legs—and feel all luxe, calme et volupté, a recent lavishing of LHB left me feeling as if I was poisoned; the bitter almond I think—that is where cyanide comes from! Lesson learned.

    LHB is my bedtime scent of choice, and one night I fell asleep to the Adagietto from Mahler Sym 5°. It was a bluish, coolish night, and the weather, scent, and music melded perfectly. Next day I Googled® “Mahler L’Heure Bleue” and lo and behold, who pops up but Luca Turin himself, to wit:
    “When it comes to arranging a folk theme, the early twentieth century had Mahler and L’Heure Bleue…”
    Well, I find the neither Adagietto nor LHB folkloric (Sym 4° by all means!), but the pairing works for me by way of nostalgia.

    • sugarplum says:

      further follow-up: having read various anise/pastry references over the years, decided to I smell my cookie jar which, while currently empty, generally is filled with Stella d’Oro’s anisette toast. There is, indeed, a resemblance, though the Stella d’Oro is all about mornings and coffee and LHB is to me the eternal nocturnal.

  75. josephine jackson says:

    Have always loved LHB because it’s completely unlike any other perfume. There’s a Jean Rhys novel where a penniless 1920s Depression-era character owns literally nothing except her precious bottle of LHB — does anyone recall which novel? Or maybe it’s one of her short stories? On a different note, I read somewhere that LHB is Julia Roberts’ favorite perfume.

    • janccd says:

      I have read some comments that said they detect a hint of medicated rose in L’Heure Bleue but I don’t detect that at all. I know people have different tastes in foods and fragrances so perhaps everyone will get a whiff of different things in L’Heure Bleue. Just as some people love cilantro and some say it tastes of soap, (I am of the latter description), and I’ve read that the cause is a difference in the genes. Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least that the same applies to smelling different perfumes. I remember when “Escape” by Calvin Klein came out and whenever I was near someone wearing it (or even far away) it gave me an instant headache! In some of the comments people have made of L’Heure Bleue have been very uncomplimentary and I don’t get the blue snakes bit at all but to me, if I had to describe it in a phrase, that phrase would be “Utterly Soft and Feminine”. The powdery soft overlay reminds me very much of Chanel No.5……

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