This summer L’Occitane released Eaux de Provence: three fragrances inspired by “the beautiful fountains that can be found across the villages of southern France, bringing life and refreshment to all.” Sounds lovely…quaint, doesn’t it? Not to me.
When Robin here at Now Smell This asked me to review the Eaux de Provence fragrances, I got the stress-induced stomach ache I always get before visiting a L’Occitane store. I’d just as soon show up at an inner city boxing ring and ask the toughest looking boxer with a freshly blackened eye if he’d mind taking off his briefs so I could try them on as go into L’Occitane and ask for samples. L’Occitane sales people are tough and aggressive (at least at the two stores I visit). They are determined you will buy something if you invade their “turf.” If you ask for a free sample, they look at you as if you’re asking for the clothes off their backs…they are NOT amused. I’ve yet to get a freebie from L’Occitane unless I buy something. Thankfully, on this visit, I needed some honey-scented soap.
Now, to Les Eaux.
Eau Ravissante (for women) highlights the essential oils of bergamot and Damascena rose; the fragrance begins with “watery” rose mingling with natural citrus aromas (a wonderful fruit peel note). As the fragrance dries on skin, the rose becomes a tad “sour” and powdery (like a tart rose candy). In the extreme dry-down, I detect one of L’Occitane’s favorite notes: green tea. This Cologne Fraîche does have a feminine character and was my least favorite of the three perfumes; I like my rose scents to be either bright and vibrant or deep, sultry and boozy. Talcy, bitter rose doesn’t thrill me.
Eau Captivante is a
unisex men's fragrance with notes of lime, herbs and bergamot. The fragrance starts off with warm, “green” citrus mixing with aromatic herbs: mint, basil and perhaps some lavender leaf. The fragrance may start off pungent but it smoothes down considerably as it dries on skin. At the end of Eau Captivante’s development, I smell a mildly vanillic mint note (reminding me of old-fashioned melt-in-your-mouth mint candies). This is my favorite of the Eaux de Provence, and wouldn’t you know it, the most ephemeral of the bunch.
Finally, there’s the
men’s unisex offering: Eau Universelle ( certainly a unisex perfume, no matter its gender classification). This routine fragrance combines the classic cologne recipe of sparkling bergamot and sheer woods; the fragrance begins as it ends. (This being L’Occitane, a good amount of green tea is also added to the formula.)
Do the Eaux de Provence deliver on their “refreshment” promise? The fragrances are water-based and go on “wet” and flat (if you know what I mean…there’s no alcoholic “coolness” or tingling from evaporation on skin). Eau Ravissante and Eau Universelle last for about two hours on my skin but have little diffusion; if you want to enjoy Eau Captivante for more than 30 minutes, you’re out of luck unless you keep reapplying it. Eaux de Provence are perfect for times you want only a hint of scent…scent that will not linger. To make these fragrances more refreshing, store them in the refrigerator.
As I left the L’Occitane store, soaps and samples bagged, I heard one last shout-out from the sales woman: “Have you tried our new verbena fragrance? Would you like to smell it?” “Too late, my dear!” I thought. I needed to exit that stressful environment, and, as a reward for getting those samples, I went straight to a café where I had a bowl of doughnut ice cream. THAT was refreshing.
The L'Occitane Eaux de Provence are $27 each for 50 ml, or $47 each for 300 ml. Matching shower gels are also available.