Caron Nuit de Noel ~ fragrance review

Caron Nuit de Noel 28 ml Extrait de Parfum

This past weekend on impulse I bought a Christmas tree. I thought I might skip it this year, but as I wheeled my cart of groceries home I remembered the German couple down the block who alway sell crisp Noble firs from their driveway. If the couple isn’t home, you take the tree you want and slip your money through their mail slot. I chose a small, sparsely limbed fir (why do people always call them “Charlie Brown” trees? I prefer to think of them as “Napoleons”) and spent the evening decorating it with ornaments while Nat King Cole serenaded from the stereo. I wore Caron Nuit de Noël Extrait, of course.

Ernest Daltroff, founder of Caron and its nose for 37 years, created Nuit de Noël in 1922. The Caron website lists its notes simply as “jasmine, saxon moss, and amber.” I don’t doubt Nuit de Noël has jasmine and amber, though neither note shines. What I mostly smell is the saxon moss, more commonly known by its French name “mousse de saxe.”

Mousse de saxe is a base Daltroff used in a number of his fragrances, but it commands front and center in Nuit de Noël. Mousse de saxe is difficult to describe. It has an opaque, velvety, almost powdery texture, but it smells a little like leather, oakmoss, crushed green stems, walnut shells, motor oil, and a fennel seed or two. Add some wood and a little brightness up top, and you get Nuit de Noël.

Nuit de Noël Extrait stays viscous and nut-brown, glowing slightly from the green veining through it, and changing little through the six hours or so it lasts on my skin. I’ve heard the same complaint about Nuit de Noël I’ve heard about Guerlain Vol de Nuit — that it’s boring. True, Nuit de Noël doesn’t shock or challenge (although it might not be easy to wear if you aren’t used to retro-smelling fragrances). But like Vol de Nuit, it smells “basic” in a natural, almost inevitable way. Despite being basic, it doesn't smell common at all.

I have only a few drops of Nuit de Noël Eau de Toilette, and to me it is true to the Extrait, although more rosy and airy than the thick Parfum. My sample is probably five years old.

I’d like to believe Nuit de Noël is what the Tabac Blond girl dabs on when she doesn’t need to be fierce. She’s at home alone, warm and happy on the couch with a quilt and a novel. A fire crackles in the fireplace, and something good braises in the oven. Sure, it’s a domestic scene, but she still wears vermillion lipstick.

Caron Nuit de Noël is sold in Extrait de Parfum and Eau de Toilette in perfume boutiques, selected department stores and online discounters. The 28 ml Parfum comes in a killer black flask with a faceted stopper and a gold foil band running around its top with “Nuit de Noël” in a deco font (Nordstrom has it at the moment for $230) .

Shop for perfume

FragranceNetParfums Raffy

72 Comments

Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. JolieFleurs says:

    Ah, my Precious, my Holy Grail.

    I may like Party in Manhattan (maybe even Jubilation 25) slightly better in the abstract, but this one I love. It is the perfume my soul responds to.

    • Angela says:

      It’s such an easy, comforting fragrance to wear, I think. I really should pull it out more often.

    • Zazie says:

      Oh, another Party in Manhattan lover!
      One of the most wonderful (wintery) perfumes – and not enough talked about…
      Must try Nuit de Noel – I recollect a blotter smelling very spicy peppery rosy, si I passed, but of course I now feel the urge to test it again!!

      • Angela says:

        Now I’m going to dig out my Party in Manhattan sample. I know I have one somewhere…

  2. kaos.geo says:

    Loved the review… also took the time to re-read your Nocturnes review.
    Cheers

    • Angela says:

      Thank you! I haven’t read that Nocturnes review in years–I hope it still holds up.

  3. Rappleyea says:

    A nice and very timely review. Thank you, Angela! And it nudged me to dig out my NdN sample and give it another whirl!

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! Please let me know what you think of Nuit de Noel, too, as you try it.

  4. BChant says:

    Fab review! I just want to add that Nuit de Noel to my nose is intensely animalic in the dry-down. which I adore. It has that wonderful fur like warmth that helps make it very comforting. The rose/jasmine heart feels very well blended and is married well to the base and top notes. Also, I think that NdN smells very “natural” when compared to other perfumes, although I am sure there are many synthetic ingredients. Although, I love synthetics, I think this natural quality lends to the coziness of this perfume. Thank you for talking about one of my favorites!

    • Angela says:

      Thank you for your mini-review! I mostly get ambery wood in the dry down–I wonder if my Nuit de Noel is newer than yours? Once I found an old bottle of Nuit de Noel in an antique store (I still curse that I didn’t buy it), and it had a deliriously gorgeous but strange sludge left in the bottom.

    • JolieFleurs says:

      In my original reply, I started to put that my nose is practically glued to my wrist for the entire dry-down, which I also adore!

      In addition to the furry warmth, I get a fair amount of inkiness and also some sandalwood. Mine is etxrait, probably about 10 years old. I have a wee bottle from the 40s, and it’s not appreciably different.

      • Angela says:

        Your comment makes me realize Nuit de Noel would make a good candle. I’d love relaxing in a room that smelled like it!

  5. Veronika says:

    Oh, Angela! Thank you for this wonderful review! I just realised that I never tried any of the Carons. Nuit de Noel might be a good start if you say that it’s reminiscent to Vol de Nuit.

    • Angela says:

      It doesn’t smell much like Vol de Nuit, but it shares VdN’s way of being–for lack of a better way to say it–rich and lovely and olfactory wallpaper. Nevertheless, it’s good to get to know a few Carons!

      • Veronika says:

        Dear Angela
        the more i read this review the more i realise that i actually want to try Tbac Blond ;)
        I even found a 50 ml bottle of extrait available online in my country and i’m very tempted to buy unsniffed
        since I already adore Cuir de Russie… how could i miss? :)

        • Abyss says:

          I would advise against buying it unsniffed, at least the current version. I adore Cuir de Russie but modern Tabac Blond left me completely cold. I had a couple of drops of vintage extrait and that was much nicer, imo, although I never fell in love with it.

          • Veronika says:

            I’ve read that Tabac Blond is very true to it’s vintage self…
            You see there are so very few perfumes that really made me awe – VdN and CdR are amoung them – that I’m very eager to find one more. And TB sounds perfect on paper.

            But you are right! I have to compose myself and wait til I’m in TSUM where I can try it. Thanks!

          • Angela says:

            I’ve heard the new Tabac Blond has lost its teeth–too bad. I sure love the older stuff, though.

          • Abyss says:

            Yup, from what I remember, Tabac Blond that I tried a few years ago was a sweet, dusty scent, vaguely hinting at some leaf tobacco. Thin and lifeless and definitely lacking that animalic, leathery bite (castoreum?) that my tiny sample of vintage had. Shame.

        • Angela says:

          Tabac Blond is one of my favorites, but it’s more of an oily leather than an aldehydic iris leather, like Cuir de Russie. Definitely worth trying!

  6. melisand61 says:

    Great review. I love your description of mousse de saxe. I would have never thought of walnut shells and motor oil!

    • Angela says:

      But I swear you can really smell them!

      • melisand61 says:

        I believe you!

        • Angela says:

          It’s not a very romantic description, I realize. Unless you’re a mechanic, I guess.

          • Marjorie Rose says:

            Or like to break open black walnuts by driving over them?

          • Angela says:

            Or are a crow and throw them on the ground!

          • mals86 says:

            My grandfather always shelled his black walnuts by piling them on his concrete driveway and driving his farm truck over them a couple of times.

            I am not joking.

          • Marjorie Rose says:

            Mals,
            Anyone who’s tried to open a handful of black walnuts wouldn’t blame him! I think I’d be afraid of walnut-bullets shooting out at passers-by!

          • JolieFleurs says:

            I didn’t realize there was any other way of breaking black walnuts other than driving over them. I have dozens of trees on my property and my uncle gathers them, then runs over them all winter long when he has nothing else to do. (Aside from making bullets and drying fruit to make hand-pies)

          • Angela says:

            I thought everyone used those hand openers to open walnuts! Of course, I don’t know anything about black walnuts. But driving a truck over them? Wow!

          • mals86 says:

            The shells of black walnuts are EXTREMELY hard. It’s even tough to get them open with a hammer.

            Again, not joking!

  7. Elle Golbane says:

    Your description reminded me of reading a J. Peterman catalog (and I mean that in the best of ways). Very enjoyable and scene-setting. You’ve really got me wanting to give this a sniff! Mousse de saxe sounds like a marvelous scent to highlight in perfume. Thanks, Angela!

    • Angela says:

      I used to love those old J Peterman catalogs! What a genius way to market things. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  8. sinnerman says:

    I bought myself a bottle of NdN for Christmas this year! I just moved into a beautiful new place and it was packed away in a box unsniffed…… Until just then.
    Your review came at a wonderful time for me as your words gave me a delightful and seasonal introduction to this one, it’s lovely.
    EDT . Maybe I’m just in the mood for Christmas but the initial opening smells to me like Christmas pudding. The alcohol and fruit/nut suggest this to me. I like that is quite neutral in aroma as I feel this will wear well with everything that goes on at Christmas !
    Merry Christmas and thankyou for all your words this year. All your reviews this year have been read and enjoyed by myself.

    • Angela says:

      It really is a good, neutral one for the holidays! I hope you get lots of wear out of it in the next few weeks. And enjoy your new home!

  9. RusticDove says:

    Loved your review! My mom wore Nuit de Noel, but I don’t remember how it smells. This has been on my wish list to revisit for ages. The bottle is one of the best.

    Speaking of Christmas trees – why doesn’t anyone offer balsam trees anymore?! They’re my favorite – perfect for decorating since they’re not so thick and full that there’s no room for ornaments. They’re long lasting, and of course, their scent! The balsam scent is heavenly. (I don’t really expect you to answer this query, just thought I’d put that out there and vent a little.) :-)

    • Angela says:

      I do love a fragrant tree, but there’s something wonderful, too, about sparse branches so the ornaments really dangle in space. Around here, most of the trees seem to be Douglas or Noble fir, it seems.

      • nozknoz says:

        I never thought of wanting a sparse tree, but this does make sense!

        • Angela says:

          I love them with vertical distance between the branches!

  10. Abyss says:

    “I’ve heard the same complaint about Nuit de Noël I’ve heard about Guerlain Vol de Nuit — that it’s boring”

    I read that too somewhere which is what has stopped me from seeking out a sample so far. To be fair, the small handful of Carons that I have tried have all turned out to be… unexciting which left me wondering if their overall (current?) style simply doesn’t suit me.

    • Veronika says:

      boring is a strong word, although I find it very often a great indicator of the thing that I will like:) (Like Chanel No 5 or Jane Austen’s novels)

      And vise versa – things that aren’t boring make me pretty quickly get tired of them and start to yawn. (I can fall asleep in 5 to 10 minutes tops while watching a western…))

      • Angela says:

        I’ve heard it called boring–but as I wrote, I sure don’t find it boring!

      • Abyss says:

        Oh, I’m with you – I’d never describe Austen’s books as boring! Not when they are so humorous and the language so beautiful.

        • Angela says:

          I’m a huge fan!

    • Angela says:

      It might be that the old Carons just aren’t your thing. Have you tried Parfum Sacré? It’s a good one. Aimez-Moi is bright and cheerful, too.

      • Abyss says:

        Oh, dear, yes, I tried both and they are the kind of scents I had in mind when I posted that – like an olfactory equivalent of a guy who seems wonderful on paper but with whom you have zero chemistry, y’know :D I happily recommend them to others but have no desire to wear them myself.

        • Angela says:

          Great comparison!

  11. poodle says:

    This has been on my wish list forever. It’s even made it into my shopping cart but I just haven’t clicked on buy. One of these days I will. Great review as always, Angela.

    • Angela says:

      Maybe a sample will make its way to you and you can give it a try.

  12. thenoseknows says:

    I have been TRYING like MAD to source some Vintage Tabac Blond to smell because it sounds just so… SCANDALOUSLY Delicious! Haven’t had any luck…. Yet… This also sounds, To My Ears at least, just as Delightful! I have little experience with Caron Fragrances pretty much I have some Very VERY Vague Memories of Smelling Bellodgia and Nocturnes at Hudson’s in my Fragrance Infancy days… when everything that wasn’t Estee Lauder i was appalled By! LOL I remember the rosiness of Bellodgia… and the Richness of Nocturnes but nothing more… My mom has a Small Vintage Bottle of Fleurs De Rocaille and a large bottle of Aimez-Moi (Which is Decidedly LOVELY!) But that Fleurs De Rocaille… Now that’s something to contend with! I would love to get to know the Ouevre of Caron’s Old masterpieces a bit more… so i think in the new year… along with Sourcing Vintage Diors and Givenchys and of course ALWAYS BUT ALWAYS looking for that Rare Exotic Bird that is Chanel No.46 (Let This Be The YEAR, YE GODS!) I shall add some older Carons to the Search! Also on the hunt for some good old Ivoire De Balmain from the good old bad old days of the 80’s! :-D

    Thank You Again for another Inspiring and Marvellous Review, Mon Angel… I Love your reviews And your Poetic Soul… Don’t! EVAH! Change!!!! <3

    • Angela says:

      Good luck! I hope you run into lots of Caron this coming year! I’d love to know what you think of them.

  13. Marjorie Rose says:

    Oh shoot, Angela. I was trying to avoid going downtown this holiday season, but maybe I need to go into the big Nordies and give this a sniff? I feel so much more comfortable in my little eastside bubble, but this sounds lovely, and I like thinking there may be a few oldies-but-goodies still worth a sniff!

    • Angela says:

      Do they have the Carons downtown? I can’t remember seeing them there, but that doesn’t mean anything. In any case, the Perfume House, handily located on the east side, definitely has them.

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        Oh, perhaps you’re right? I would much prefer a pilgrimage to Our Lady!

  14. AnnieA says:

    NdN is a classic choice for a Christmas perfume. What other perfumes make people think of the holidays? I can only think of Frasier Fir, but that’s a room spray.

    • Angela says:

      Fir, for sure. Cinnamon and orange smell Christmasy to me, too. But Nuit de Noel is something else again…

    • Rappleyea says:

      Wazamba is my Christmas perfume of choice! I alternate with Incense Pure.

      • Angela says:

        Incense–perfect!

  15. nozknoz says:

    I really like to wear Nuit de Noel on Christmas Eve, and occasionally I’ll decide to wear it at other times when I just want something that smells good in a deep, quiet way. I wouldn’t call it boring, exactly, but rather ideal for the long, dark, contemplative nights around winter solstice. I don’t find VdN boring at all – it’s a favorite fall scent. I adore Tabac Blond but almost never feel like wearing it. I’d have to make some changes to measure up to the expectations it creates. ;-)

    • Angela says:

      Isn’t it funny how a person has to live up to some perfumes? As much as I love Carnal Flower, it’s only “me” about 0.5% of the time.

  16. annemarie says:

    I love your image of Tabac Blond girl at home in front of the fire in Nuit de Noel. I think her companion would be one of those grumpy cats only an owner can love.

    I bought a decant of Nuit de Noel once, but it does nothing for me at all. It reminds me of T.S. Eliot: ‘ … dust on a bowl of rose leaves.’

    • Angela says:

      That’s funny about the grumpy cat! I can see that, too.

    • Merlin says:

      That was the impression I got from Parfum Sacre – potpourri, it just strikes me as thirsty!
      Apparently the place, Burnt Norton, really did have a charming little rose garden!

      • Angela says:

        I swear I learn the coolest things on this site…

      • annemarie says:

        Yes, I’ve seen pictures. Looks lovely.

      • annemarie says:

        Adding: I’m not much of a fan of PS either, tho’ I have tried to like it. Scratchy and sometimes sour.

        • Angela says:

          Scratchy and sour? It’s one of my favorites! (Although I admit I don’t wear it that often.) Oh well, I suppose that means there’s more out there for me.

  17. relleric says:

    Angela, great review, as always! I’m curious about this fragrance, but wondering if it leans more feminine than I get from the list of notes. I have VdN EDT, and while I admire it, it definitely is too feminine for me to wear (I’m a guy), but I love the way it smells.
    Happy Holidays!

    • Angela says:

      If Vol de Nuit is too feminine, Nuit de Noel probably is, too. It’s worth smelling though, I think, just to get to know mousse de saxe.

  18. Kseni says:

    I remember I had a small sample of NdN for months and was unsure about it that is until I got ill. Because while I was recovering from my illness that late autumn in London 4 or 5 years ago the smell was always on my wrist. For some reason it worked so well with melancholical air and my state of mind as well as with a slightly heightened perception of all smells due to the illness that I bought a bottle of extract. And I have to say I was rather unfaithful to it during all these years. I always choose something more dramatic from my collection, but its rediscovery always brings me back to that point of time. I always wonder how different it is from the vintage one, but I would rather invest into vintage Tabac Blond (if I am lucky to get one) since this one is completely altered.

    • Angela says:

      Isn’t it amazing how powerfully a perfume can bring back time? I’m sorry, though, that it brings back a time when you were ill–although you certainly have a poet’s perspective on it.

      I wouldn’t mind some vintage Tabac Blond, either!

Leave a reply