Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain ~ fragrance review

Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain

Happy Birthday, Diptyque! (50 is the new 40, and you still look and smell “fresh”!) How many Diptyque fragrances (not to mention soaps and candles and room sprays) have I bought in my perfume-addict years? Let’s see: L’Eau, L’Ombre dans l’Eau, Eau Lente, Olène, Ofrésia, Philosykos, Oyédo, Tam Dao, and the discontinued — why, Diptyque, WHY? —Virgilio and L’Eau Trois.

Amateur perfume detectives among you will notice I have not bought a new Diptyque fragrance since 2003’s Tam Dao. That’s a lot of years, eight, and fragrances, ditto, that have gone by without interesting me. It seems Diptyque’s current aesthetic is  modern-mainstream; its perfume offerings of the last eight years stress smooth, rather linear, conservative (trying to appeal to the largest audience possible) aromas. The older Diptyque fragrances I love are bolder, weirder, niche affairs, and even when they were inspired by old-fashioned ideas or “antiquity” (L’Eau: 16th c. potpourri, Eau Lente and L’Eau Trois: ancient Greece), they are supremely wearable. I’m all for fragrance companies making money, especially companies like Diptyque with a wonderful collection of perfumes for sale, but really, can’t we get ONE daring, off-center, “wild” perfume from Diptyque once every, say, three years or so? (I’d even settle for a limited edition scent.)

To celebrate 50 years in business, Diptyque has just released 34 Boulevard Saint Germain (the address of its first boutique in Paris). The perfume was created to “encapsulate the scent” of Diptyque’s boutique and some of its most famous offerings: Philosykos, L’Eau, L’Ombre dans L’Eau, and Do Son; and it contains “around 40 raw materials,” including fragrance notes of blackcurrant, green leaves, fig leaf, pepper, rose, citrus, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, geranium, tuberose, iris, violet, eucalyptus and woods and balms. I approached 34 Boulevard Saint Germain thinking it would probably, at worst, bore me (since I honestly don’t dislike any Diptyque scents).

34 Boulevard Saint Germain opens with sweet berries, “greens” and some pepper. These are the first stand-out notes, but if you spray lavishly or sniff closely you will detect a dry tuberose aroma, a spicy red rose misted with turpentine, a hint of iris and clove (all on the sheer side) and a strong and sweet patchouli note (patchouli-haters, beware). Each time I wear the fragrance, a different facet comes to the fore, I especially enjoy a mid-development citrus “candy” note that reminds me of Oyédo. As 34 Boulevard Saint Germain develops, it truly “dries down” — I smell a bowl of spicy potpourri, with a few wood chips and a sprig of eucalyptus added to the dried flowers and citrus peels. 34 Boulevard Saint Germain's extreme dry down presents a lovely, powdery, fruit-tinged amber accord.

I like 34 Boulevard Saint Germain, but it’s not the eccentric, birthday-bash fragrance I was hoping for; all the striking elements of “vintage” Diptyque fragrances that are referenced in 34 Boulevard Saint Germain have been toned down or lost and confused in an overabundance of ingredients and "styles." Still, I would happily wear 34 Boulevard Saint Germain if a bottle found its way to me, but I won’t buy it. I’d rather restock my perfume cabinet with a few older, more scintillating, Diptyque fragrances.

34 Boulevard Saint Germain is unisex but, to me, veers slightly more towards masculine territory; it has great lasting power and good sillage. I hope Diptyque survives and thrives another 50 years, and, at least occasionally, reverts to days of old when adventurous, risky business was the norm at 34 boulevard Saint-Germain.

Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain was developed by perfumer Olivier Pescheux. It is available in 50 ml/100 ml Eau de Toilette, $100/$135; soap, $30; candle, $80; room spray, $60; and “scented oval” for perfuming small spaces, $50.

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35 Comments

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  1. moore says:

    … and now the niche perfumery is looking for a mass-market profit, and the rule shade us: “to high profit, cheap raw material”… God help us…

    • Kevin says:

      moore: this one does not smell cheap to me at all…and the gods surely have more to worry about than niche or mainstream perfumes. HA!

      • moore says:

        They sure have!!! That’s why we’re lost!!!

      • moore says:

        … and that’s why we’re missing our education and being bad tempered…

        • moore says:

          Maybe for understanding I should replace the “we” on the statement above for “you”.

  2. rodelinda says:

    I love most Diptyques (even their bottles make me happy), so I’ll probably hunt down a sample of this just to try it.

    You might have been the one and only fan of L’Eau Trois, though :)

    • lilyboy says:

      im a very big fan of l’ eau trois :) luckily i have the huge bottle which they sold on sale when they initially discontinued that so i guess it will last me a lot of lifetimes :)

      • Kevin says:

        Lilyboy: lucky you! I acted in time to get a huge bottle of Virgilio but missed out on L’Eau Trois.

        • lilyboy says:

          lucky indeed :)

          oh yeah i got the huge one of virgilio as well from the same sale.. unfortunately i discovered i cant wear it coz the hay-ish accord gives me migraine.. though it’s still with me and makes me smile very often

    • Kevin says:

      Rodelinda: It can’t be true! It was great! I keep hoping for a limited-time re-issue.

    • nozknoz says:

      Rodelinda, I also love the Diptyque bottles!

  3. lilyboy says:

    happy 50th to diptyque and amen to the hopefully “occasional, days of old, adventurous & risky”..

    i think diptyque is one of the brands i have most and am most fond of.. jardin clos, olene, opone, l’ eau trois, oyedo, philosykos, l’ ombre, ofresia, virgilio, l’ eau, l’ autre & essence of john galliano :)

    and yup, none of the newer ones either :(

    btw kevin, the ‘discontinued’ scents are still available in their (new York) boutique.. unless they really ‘discontinued’ for good.. i just bought my l’autre late last year from them..

    • lilyboy says:

      i am still waiting for feu de bois in perfume form.. if diptyque cant grant this wish, any recommendations?? :P

      • Kevin says:

        Lilyboy: don’t hold your breath. Gosh…it’s been so long since I smelled Feu de Bois (does it have tons of birch?)…I’m afraid to comment…maybe someone else will have some suggestions.

        • lilyboy says:

          its been a while too.. hmm.. not sure which wood it has primarily of.. i just remembered it did smell of burning woods in a cold weather

          not birch i think, though i may be wrong..
          from what i know the galliano one is the one with a high dose of birch scent.. the one that smells like band aid (to me, haha)

    • Kevin says:

      Lilyboy: I’ll check them out…immediately!

  4. Lexy says:

    Hmmm… to me, admittedly an amateurish nose, the new Diptyque offspring is like creating a salad, by adding whatever it’s inside the fridge: a bit of this, and a bit of that, oh, and this too… The effect has been confusing, and as you said Kevin towards masculine- which is not my cup of tea. L’Ombre dans l’Eau has been my signature perfume though, and I will always be thankful to Diptyque for creating my favourite fragrance!

    • Kevin says:

      Lexy: L’Ombre dan L’Eau always gets me compliments.

  5. AnnS says:

    The first Ditpyque I smelled was Eau Lente just last year, and it was love at first sniff. It’s one of my supreme chill-out fragrances. I’ve only smelled a few from the line, Oyedo and one other I can’t remember right now. I’ve not smelled enough to comment on the mainstream-ness of their more current releases. 34 BSG sounds test worthy at least – I like shape shifting fragrances…if they are good!

    • Kevin says:

      Anns: 34 does develop on me like “scent” snapshots of other Diptyques…but I’d say the first Diptyque EdT, L’Eau, is the biggest influence on 34.

      • AnnS says:

        I’ll have to start doing some Diptyque homework then. I’m sure I’ll be able to source some samples of their early line.

  6. Andrew says:

    L’eau Trois is everything I wish Diptyque was today too (along with L’Autre and Virgilio). Although I think 34 smells nice, I had hoped for something much more interesting! I was really into the whole concept of Diptyque creating a fragrance that smelled like the boutique but it just ends up smelling like my sample drawer!

    • Kevin says:

      Andrew: HA! A good way of putting it.

  7. Abyss says:

    I shall be giving this a sniff. It sounds like something I’d prefer as a candle/room spray rather than a perfume but you never know.

    I’m also a fan of Diptyque. I like a few of their scents (Phylosykos, Lente, L’Ombre dans l’Eau) and I love their candles and body products. In my experience their staff and customer service are excellent and they are extremely generous with samples so it’s a company that I’m genuinely fond of and so I try to reward them with my custom whenever possible.

    • Kevin says:

      Abyss: I”m betting this in candle form is great.

  8. Hi Kevin–just confirming that the entire line of Diptyques is available at the Madison Avenue boutique in NYC. Unfortunately L’eau Trois is only available in the humongo bottle, or I would have bought one myself.

  9. March says:

    Trois! That was my first. Also … the Galliano! Yeah, I spray it on my skin, and nothing’s dropped off yet. Did you ever smell Elide? Man, that was weird. Also, I’d kill for a vintage bottle of Tam Dao, which now smells like cedarwood, sort of, rather than sandalwood.

    • Kevin says:

      March: who knew these were still in NYC, too??!! Yes, I remember and liked the Ed’Elide. May those sandalwood trees grow FAST in India….

  10. nozknoz says:

    Kevin, I’m so glad you reviewed this and brought the anniversary to our attention. L’Ombre dans L’Eau, Olene and Virgilio my fav summer scents (together with Guerlain Vetiver): they smell great and have enough spine to stand up to BOTH steamy heat and freezing AC. I also deeply appreciate the aptly named Luxurious Hand Balm.

    I guess a perfume encapsulating the history of a line is an admirable technical feat, but I’ll celebrate this anniversary by adding another classic to my collection. Trying to decide between L’Eau, Philosykos and Eau Lente!

    • Kevin says:

      Noz: Eau Lente? I love the body line too…that hand balm smells so GOOD.

  11. Haunani says:

    Kevin, your review inspired me to try this tonight. I’m finding it to be easy to wear and quite pretty. I’m enjoying the mix of gentle florals and spices over the lightly sweet woody blend. I think it hangs together fairly well, and there’s not too much patchouli for this patchouli wimp. I’m still trying to get the eucalyptus – maybe I’m getting just a bit.

    • Kevin says:

      Hi, Haunani: the more I sprayed on, the more I smelled the eucalyptus (a nice note, but certainly not a note I want to dominate! anything)

  12. fly006 says:

    I sprayed it on this morning as had a sample! I have to say it is perfect for a hot sunny day! Its so fresh and crisp with a hint of spice and sweet tuberose! Its classy and distinctive without being heady! Perfect for the office Ladies!

  13. Luxaholic says:

    I really like 34. It’s a lot like Santa Maria Novella potpourri, which I love and have used for years, but fresher. I think it’s a great scent for men and women. I was going to buy it now, but for me, I’d like it better in our dry fall and winter. I bought L’eau de L’eau and bonus, I received a travel 34! I’m lounging at home, wearing the scent, feeling lovely!

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