Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu ~ fragrance review

Parfums de Nicolai perfumes for women

When it’s cold and rainy, often I want to wear a warm, ambery fragrance, maybe even something with the faint scent of stewed fruit. Sometimes I pull out a bottle of Guerlain Mitsouko or Parfums Micallef L’Automne. Or I might dab on some Rochas Femme parfum. Most of the time, though, I reach for my bottle of Parfums de Nicolaï Sacrebleu.

Sacrebleu is a spicy, fruity mélange with a thick body of buttery flowers and a warm incense drydown. The Parfums de Nicolaï website lists Sacrebleu’s topnotes as mandarin oil and red fruits; its heart as carnation, tuberose, jasmine, and cinnamon oil; and its base as frankincense, patchouli, sandalwood, peru balsam, and tonka bean absolute.

The first twenty minutes of wearing Sacrebleu I smell dusky apricots and cassis over a layer of what could be pâte sablée. A blend of spicy flowers keeps it from becoming too gourmand. After a few hours, Sacrebleu’s incense- and tonka-laden base takes center stage, and more than once as I’ve stood up from my desk or taken off my coat I’ve caught a whiff of Sacrebleu’s drydown and been surprised at how warm and easy it is.

Sacrebleu was released in 1993. According to an International Herald Tribune interview with Parfums de Nicolaï founder and house nose, Patricia de Nicolaï, Sacrebleu took two years to develop. "I wanted a grand perfume with an Oriental vanilla note," she said, "but not too heavy, obvious, or sickly. I had something very good, but too basic. I needed a top note to fuse the compositions and I had a lot of trouble." Perfumer François Robert suggested that she add fruit to give the perfume an interesting dimension. De Nicolaï adjusted Sacrebleu’s formula to contain a touch of raspberry, peach, apricot, and a fruity jasmine. The resulting fragrance was, she said, “the kind of star perfume that only happens once in 10 years.”

Early mentions of Sacrebleu’s name show it with an exclamation point, like L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing!. At some point Parfums de Nicolaï seems to have dropped the punctuation. In French, “sacrebleu” is an exclamation akin to “holy smokes!” or “good heavens!” Patricia de Nicolaï is from the Guerlain family, and I’ve always wondered if Sacrebleu was a play on L’Heure Bleue, which it resembles a little. Sacrebleu’s incense base might contribute the “sacre” part of the mix. But where L’Heure Bleue is moody like the dusk it’s named for, Sacrebleu is a contented sunset. It’s a scent that’s closer to love than to sex and to comfort than to thrills. On a rainy December afternoon, love and comfort sound pretty good.

Parfums de Nicolaï Sacrebleu is available in 30, 50, 100 and 250 ml Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see the listing for Parfums de Nicolaï under Perfume Houses.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful review, Angela! I don't wear Sacrebleu often, but I do, like you, find a similarity fo l'Heure Bleue, which is a very interesting nod to history , especially coming from de Nicolai.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ok, now I'm going to annoy everyone I know by saying “Sacrebleu!” all day. LOL!

    It sounds like a very comforting scent, perfect for sweater weather. I've never been a huge fan of amber scents, but I'm warming to them. Or at least I was until this bizarre tropical heat wave hit the southeast, it's 75 degrees and I've gone back to wearing demeter's meyer lemon!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I found Sacrebleu to be almost unbelievably sweet–choking, really. It's as if some perfumer with unlimited resources said, “You want a fruity floral? I'll give you a fruity floral!”

    Everyone else's mileage, obviously, may vary. I like sweet scents and love ambery ones, but Sacrebleu was way too much for me.

    Demeter Meyer Lemon is wonderful, isn't it?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you! I'd love to know if Sacrebleu's link to L'Heure Bleue was intentional. I wouldn't be surprised.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Serendipitously, I received a sample of this fragrance on Monday of this week. I'm a fan of PdN fragrances in general, and this is a lovely scent. I enjoy a lot of amber in the mix for my fall and winter fragrances, so this is a little bit 'amber lite' for me at this point in the winter, but I can certainly see reaching for it frequently in early to mid-fall when I first start experiencing amber cravings.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sacrebleu is a good sweater weather scent, that's for sure. It doesn't actually smell very ambery, but it has the buttery feel of amber to me.

    I'll let out a few sacrebleus here, too!

  7. Anonymous says:

    You make it sound like the Clint Eastwood of fruity perfumes! Sacrebleu is probably the fruitiest perfume I wear–well, maybe L'Automne is fruitier–but the fruit is mellow enough to work for me. I don't wear it everyday, but there are times when it is just what I want.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It's true that Sacrebleu is sort of a medium-weight scent. Maybe that's why it appeals to me so much in the rain. When it's cold and the air is crisp and tinged with wood smoke, I'd probably turn to Tabac Blond or something with more body.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Meyer lemon is sunshine in a bottle! I went and sprayed a little burberry on at lunch (who knows which one, I was in a hurry and didn't bother to nancy drew the plaid) – and it's layered over the lemon. I smell kind of fabulous right now, if I do say so myself! :)

  10. Anonymous says:

    I love “nancy drew the plaid”!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Okay, I really need to try this again. I remember not loving it, but cannot remember why, and you have hit every possible note to make me think it would be perfect!

  12. Anonymous says:

    March, it's definitely worth trying again, I think. It's a good standby to have in the ole' perfume stable.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Angela – Thank you so much for this review – I love to read about scents that didn't come out just yesterday. I truly enjoy this one as I do L'Heure Bleu.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I'm glad you enjoyed the review. I like reviewing, as you say, “scents that didn't come out just yesterday”. For one, it takes me a long time, it seems, to be able to sample the latest perfumes, and it takes even longer for me to decide what I think of them. There are so many fabulous perfume that came out in the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and later that I can't help but want to smell them!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I have a sample of this which I enjoy digging out from time to time. Fruity/gourmand notes often repel me but this works somehow. That base reminds me of her Vanille Tonka and Maharanhi (not sure if spelt correctly!) – it is very French to my nose. I have read this is a favourite of Catherine Deneuve which can't be bad at all.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I love it that Catherine Deneuve wears it too! That woman sure likes her perfume. I'd love to have a peek inside her perfume cabinet.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I don't normally do sweet.. and I never though I'd want to personally wear this. But something very strange has happened to me: ever since I reviewed this it keeps popping up in my mind completely out of nowhere from time to time, urging me to spray a little more of my dwindling sample on my skin. Lately these thoughts are accompanied with an urging to actually BUY it, which is all the more strange. I get the feeling I will succumb, soon.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I know the temption all too well, unfortunately! The good thing about the Parfums de Nicolai scents is that you can get them in a 30-ml bottle for a good price.

  19. Blimunda says:

    Aaargh, I knew it was a bad idea to read reviews of perfumes from houses i havn’t tried yet! I’m trying to be more economical with my finances. I’ve decided to stop sampling and feeling ‘so-so’ about 75% of what I try. Instead, I will invest in full bottles of scents I adore. Then I go and read your review of Sacrebleu! WAAAH!!!!!!!!

    • Angela says:

      Maybe you should try swapping for a sample! I know I have a hard time ordering samples when I know I can trade for them.

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