In Rossinière, Switzerland, the painter Balthus lived at the Grand Chalet — and grand it is. The Grand Chalet is the largest chalet in Switzerland and one of the biggest wooden residences in Europe. On the Grand Chalet's grounds was a huge linden tree that provided shade and fragrance (supposedly, Balthus loved the scent of linden); Astier de Villatte just released a linden blossom fragrance inspired by this tree. Astier de Villatte describes Grand Chalet, the perfume:
An enchanting smell escapes the bottle and suddenly fills the air: it is the age-old linden that shades the garden of painter Balthus’s atelier, at Grand Chalet, high up in the Swiss alps. A tribute to the artist and his favourite scent, bask in this Cologne’s delightful redolence of honey, milk and slight hints of lemon. And in the end, a slight trail of blond wood and vanilla remains.
I live at the Petit Chalet in the "lake district" of Seattle...perhaps you've heard of it? It's one of the smallest wooden dwellings in the state of Washington...but surrounded, thanks to a huge yard, with flowering scented plants of all kinds from around the globe. The closest I've come to a linden tree was a huge honey locust tree (cut down last year because of dangerous old age; I'm still in mourning). I love the scent of linden blossom and there are plenty of linden blossom perfumes out there ripe for the choosing: Kerosene Pretty Machine, Frau Tonis Parfum Linde Berlin No. 10, Parfum d'Orsay Tilleul and Tilleul pour la nuit. Grand Chalet has competition!
Grand Chalet starts with a beautiful, realistic linden blossom aroma: lush and honeyed, but still having an air of innocence. As the perfume wears on skin, the linden deepens, becomes "milky" and has a mildly woody (almost musky) after-scent that does not compete with or overshadow the linden. I don't like linden blossom in small doses or showing up in a cameo role in a complex fragrance; I like linden blossom as the star, an enduring star. I'd classify Grand Chalet as a soliflore. Grand Chalet wears lighter (a few hours of strong scent followed by hours of close-to-the-body sillage) than some of the linden blossom perfumes mentioned above. Grand Chalet never becomes soapy/clean. I currently own the Frau Tonis Parfum Linde Berlin No. 10 and Parfum d'Orsay Tilleul pour la nuit, but the next time I need a linden blossom perfume, Grand Chalet is on the top of the list.
Also, two ceramics collections are available at Astier de Villatte created with the Grand Chalet in mind: the Grand Chalet ceramics collection and the Setsuko collection — both made in collaboration with Balthus' wife Setsuko Klossowska de Rola who still lives at the Grand Chalet. (I would not say 'no' to a gift of the Setsuko cat incense burner.) For more information on the Grand Chalet, see the Fondation Balthus website.
Astier de Villatte describes Elixir du Dr. Flair as:
An incredible, euphoric scent of wild plants and medicinal herbs. A concentrate of the warm aromatic emanations of woods, the spicy smell of clove and wormwood, the fresh notes of lavender and petit grain, the formula for this elixir is inspired by a very ancient and invigorating recipe. Its herbal trail is long-lasting.
Elixir du Dr. Flair opens with the zingy mentholated scent of eucalyptus and ice-cold cloves; its fragrance is a mix of medicated-lotion, muscle-soak and Noxema aromas. This perfume will shake you awake and cool you off on a sweltering day, and it would make an excellent (high-end) sport fragrance to wear year-round. Wearing Elixir du Dr. Flair makes me feel clean and fresh, without a hint of the laundry room. If the aromas of camphor, artemisia, eucalyptus, menthol are off-putting to you, I bet you'll dislike Elixir du Dr. Flair. This perfume is a true Eau de Cologne: it disappears on my skin in a few hours.
Astier de Villatte Grand Chalet and Elixir du Dr. Flair are each $165 for 150 ml or $110 for 50 ml; available at Aedes de Venustas. (900 ml bottles are also available, but not in the US.)