“It looks just like our Petit Trianon back home.” I said as I took photos of my friend William in the tiny and cramped gate house framing him against the little round window through which could be seen the private diminutive palace of Marie Antoinette.
“But it is the real thing.” He said. “Ours in San Francisco is a pale copy.”
It was our last day in France and we had saved Versailles for our finale immersion in all things French. The palace was magnificent, the gardens sublime. No more so than off the main paths that lead away from the Grand Canal to the Grand and the Petit Trianon and the Hameau de la Reine. The further away from the grand Château we walked the less we saw of others touring the grounds. By the time we reached the little palace we were quite alone. The planned wildness of the gardens had captured my imagination and I could almost believe that around the next box hedge I would find a small group of courtiers from the court of The Sun King. What magic it all seemed to possess, a sad haunted magic in the end.
A soft mist was falling from the grege colored April sky as we walked into the entrance of the intimate little hideaway of the Queen. As we passed from room to room we could feel the presence of something extraordinary. The furnishings were all put back in place as they had been before the Revolution. The only light in the rooms came from the French windows giving each room the softness of a watercolor in blues and silvers.
I stood at the window of the dining room looking out over a small formal garden feeling so peaceful and a little at home.
“OH Harry just look at this room! It’s just like Sylvia and Oscar’s dinning room in Oyster Bay!” Her voice could crack open the lost tomb of Alexander the Great. I turned to see her sweep into the room overdressed, painted, pulled and plumped. She ran her hand along the edge of the dinning table and then picked up a plate. “I have to find this exact pattern when we get back home.” She flipped the plate over to inspect the bottom.
Her private guide was paled by her snatching up of the priceless porcelain. “Please Madame you must not touch. These are priceless museum pieces.” She ignored him as she tossed her teased dyed Titian tresses and grabbed her ancient husband by the arm and squeezed it till he winced. “We just have to recreate this room in the new house. I want it to be better than Sylvia’s. I want it to be better than even this!’ She whipped out a camera from her YSL bag and backed up into an 18th century cabinet taller than she was and set it rocking.
“Madame Please! We must move on now.” The poor guide whimpered. Harry gave him a nasty look. When she was quite finished she swept past William and I as if we were just dusty window treatments that she was most definitely not impressed with.
I looked at my friend horrified and embarrassed by this woman from my country who felt so entitled that she had no respect or appreciation of where she was or what she was really seeing.
“That woman was a pig!” I said.
“I bet she yells at Parisians in English thinking they will understand her.” William said.
Then I saw it. The cabinet she had bumped into had pressed up against the wall and and had left a crack in it.
“She broke the wall!”
We went over to investigate. “No she didn’t” William said. “It’s a hidden compartment in the wall. When she bumped into the cabinet it must have hit the trigger on the wall. See it’s right here and…Look!”
We both leaned in at the same time and hit our heads together. Neither of us felt the bump.
“What do you see?” The rain was coming down really hard outside and made it so dark in the room that I couldn’t see anything in the cubby hole.
“Wonderful things…” He whispered as if it was King Tutankhamen’s tomb and he was Howard Carter.
It all came into focus. There was a black silk fan covered in dust and cobwebs, some coins, an old parchment letter with the wax seal broken and a small bottle of perfume.
I reached for the bottle.
“Don’t touch it!” My friend cautioned but it was already in hand.
I read the faded writing on the perfume label, “Cologne Royale” I whispered. “It is a bottle of Cologne Royale. What does the letter say?”
He gingerly opened the ancient manuscript and part of the edges fell away. “It’s in French I can’t read it. But it is addressed to ‘Votre Majesté Royale and signed Hans Axel Von Fersen.’ Open the bottle … what does it smell like?”
It pulled at the sealed stopper but to no avail. There were voices coming now from the next room. “I can’t get it open!”
“Someone is coming! Put it back!” He shoved the letter back into its tomb.
“No I want to smell it.” He tried to take the perfume away from me and in the struggle it fell to the floor and shattered.
That is how we ended our vacation in France, Two loud ugly Americans explaining to the French police how we found the lost treasures of Le Petit Trianon and destroyed forever the only surviving bottle of perfume owned by Marie Antoinette.
Cologne Royale la Collection Privée by Christian Dior is a modern elegant take on the classic 18th century Eau de Cologne. In fact inspired by just such colognes, it is delicate and beautiful in the way the best colognes are. One is reminded of No. 4711 eau de Cologne which as been in production since 1790 or of Santa Maria Novella Acqua de Colonia which was created for Catherine Di Medici, Queen of France. There is a long and colorful history of smelling good in Paris and what better way to celebrate the history of that tradition than with a classic royal cologne from the house of Dior.
Perfumer Francois Demachy has chosen the most wonderful blend of citrus, neroli and musk to bring a vision of the glory days of powdered wigs and scented fans to life. But it is not stuffy or old fashioned in the least. For in choosing a strictly narrow style of the eau de cologne Demachy has somehow managed to breathe new life into an old form. It is the perfect after bath refreshment and a wonderful base on which to layer a more substantial fragrance for later in the day or evening. It is more refreshing than merely “Fresh”.
Like all eau de colognes the projection and longevity are short lived thus making Cologne Royale the ultimate in a luxury fragrance. One must be extravagant and rather caviler to wear Royale at about, at the very most three hours and such a price. But if you are of the let them eat cake mindset then why not indulge in a bottle of Cologne Royale. What a lovely couture fragrance for the Comte or Comtesse in every perfume lover.
Madame le peuple puent. Laissez-les se baigner dans parfum!
COLOGNE ROYALE FOUR GOLD STARS ****
JUST FOR FUN ~ LET THEM EAT CAKE