Skip to main content

Après l’Ondée - Paris perfume surprise - Avenue du Champs Elysées - by Benh Lieu Song 

Paris on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in spring……..we’re walking up the Champs Elysées to the Guerlain shop. It’s been a long time since I walked on this famous street and I’m in sensory high-speed mode, trying to connect the present with the past.

We arrive at the shop - it looks smaller than I remember from my visits years ago, but the ornate, curved staircase leading to the Ruban d'Or on the Upper Level is unchanged. And then we’re standing at The Perfume Organ, the grand circular display stand in the middle of the Fragrance room, on which the famous Guerlain fragrances, classic and modern, are arranged in tiers.

For a serious perfumista like I am, visiting Guerlain in Paris is akin to finding the Holy Grail. The art of perfumery was elevated and modernized by Jacques Guerlain, and many of the fragrances created by his company in the early 1900's continue to be the benchmarks against which all others are measured.  Tastes change through time, but great art does not. 

I walk around the circle, I pick up a bottle, I spray, I sniff, and great art is on my skin, in my nose. I sniff several more bottles, spray a couple , and then move into the next room to look at the Imperial Fountain – more perfume masterpieces. My mind is a kaleidoscope of images and memories, as the scent notes work their magic.

The sales Assistant is at my side, and I tell her that I own three of the classic Guerlains, so she explains several of the newer ones, leading me through the history and the notes of each. She’s charming, extremely knowledgeable, and very good at her job. I decide I must have Quand Vient la Pluie, a soft fresh scent that is far outside my normal range of orientals and woods. I also buy Après l’Ondée, a soft floral which smells of almonds and violets– one of the classics. 

Luca Turin in Perfumes - The Guide states that Après l'Ondée is - "one of the twenty greatest perfumes of all time". He describes it as "heavenly heliotrope", Guerlain describes it as a powdery floral "tender, delicate, subtle - evokes a stroll through dewy underbrush - misty pastel shades celebrate the weather after the rain - discreet".

Après l'Ondée opens with almondy violet notes, pale and spring-like, and then becomes more haunting as the iris note starts to emerge. Aniseed and carnation, then herbs - thyme, rosemary and sage - give this scent weight, and bring it back down to earth before it floats away like a helium balloon. It’s just beautiful.

As I sit waiting for the Sales Assistant to bring my purchases, I look around this celebrated room and suddenly realize how much my interest in perfumes has expanded and enriched my life. I’ve travelled, met fascinating people, learned so many interesting things, and started writing again.

I also realize that I've surprised myself with my two purchases, which are entirely different from those I had planned to buy. These are expensive!! Was I too impetuous, was I an easy sell, do I regret my choices? I decide I feel liberated by my unpredictable choices – I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone, and enriched my life once again.

Guerlain bags on our arms, we leave the shop, and continue our walk on the Champs Elysées. There are other perfume stores, with enticing displays, but I’ve lost interest. My search for the next wonderful fragrance has been fulfilled for now, and I’ve had enough surprises for one day - after all, I have one of the  the all-time greats in my Guerlain bag.

Après l'Ondée is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.


Loved reading your review

Loved reading your review, I realize now that I don't know anything about perfumes. I guess that's the perfect place to start. It's too bad I can't feel the smell of the fragrances you're describing, I'll have to find a way to do that.

Re: Loved reading your review

The best way to "feel" the smells is to buy some perfume samples and try them on your own skin, over several hours and days. Let your nose find the memories you've stored over the years - it's a lot of fun.
And keep reading - especially our posts on perfumeniche!

Apres l'Ondee is beautiful

Kay, your description of the Guerlain store made me feel like I was there, and it helped that I was wearing a sample of Apres l'Ondee that I purchsed from you guys a few weeks back.

This afternoon is the first time I've worn it, and I've only had it on for about half an hour, so I'm still working my way through it. First impressions are that I really seem to have a thing for the oldies. But this one doesn't seem anchored in an era it was conceived (1906 apparently). To my nose it has the feel of a more modern niche scent. I have no idea what "heliotrope" smells like - it is used to describe a lot of fragrances, this one included.

Could you tell me which other scents have that same note, as I'm fairly new to this and don't have my bearings yet with some of the anchor notes.

I am finding the Apres l'Ondee is disappearing a little faster than I would like but that may be because I haven't applied enough with the wand. I am getting almonds (more marzipan than almonds I suppose), and a bit of powder. It kinds of reminds me of something like a toned-down Andy Tauer creation. Yummy, and not too bold, which is good for daytime.

As far as fragrance purchases that surprised me, Jolie Madame was one I picked up at Winners because it was cheap, and I didn't expect much from it. Wow - it has become one of my favourites. Wonderwood was more of an investment, and I wasn't planning on picking that up when I went into Noor to get Hinoki, but I got kind of swept up in the woodsy thing. I think a tree faerie must have visited be while I was sleeping...

They are both purchases that I don't regret, and in fact wear Wonderwood more than Hinoki.

Re: Après L'Ondée is beautiful

Après L'Ondée is very light and soft, and therefore is best sprayed, rather than dabbed, which may account for you losing the scent a bit, but I think what's happening is that you're experiencing a "quiet" perfume. That said, AP is really tenacious in its very quiet way, which is one of the things I love about it - you'll smell it on your clothes tomorrow!
Heliotope is a lovely low-lying plant - I have some in my garden - which blooms in clusters of small purple flowers, and has a sweet scent of almond cherry with a hint of vanilla. It has a long history as a perfume note, especially in florals.
Another fragrance that has heliotrope? Dans tes Bras by Frederic Malle - another very soft , but sexy, scent.
Glad you're loving the woody scents - Hinoki definitely is more of a "mood" scent!

It's a great article! Thank

It's a great article! Thank you. 

Little Black Dress

I used to be very fond of "Insolence" but I had probably been wearing it for too long because in the end, I couldn't even notice it new Guerlain's favourite is "Petite robe noire" (Little black dress). I have to admit that I first had a crush on the bottle. However, it smells amazing, a little too sweet at first but then it gets richer and really feminine!

Sookie, Did you wear

Did you wear Insolence exclusively? You've just identified the problem of having a "signature scent" - one scent that you wear all the time - your nose doesn't smell it anymore!! And I think the great fun of wearing perfume is being able to smell it on yourself, to identify the different notes as they emerge and change on your skin. La Petite Robe Noire is very different from Insolence  - definitely richer, and more flirtatious!! If you're expanding your scent wardrobe, you should track down Safran Troublant by L'Artisan. It's has the slight sweetness of LBD, but a little more mystery!!

signature scent

Yes, I wore it exclusively although they were many other perfumes I liked. I probably did it out of laziness.... How do you chose a perfume in the morning? Do you look for a scent that matches your clothes? your mood?

Hmmm - many things affect my

Hmmm - many things affect my choice of scent for the day - the weather, what's on my agenda, where I'm going, what I'm wearing - but I guess the most important thing that helps me choose is my mood.....or the mood I want to be in. Different scents help me feel more confident or powerful, or romantic, feminine, sexy, or just plain BETTER!!! So choose a perfume that you know makes you feel good, and it will make that good feeling even stronger as you live your day!


I just tried two recent fragrances by Guerlain; the first one is called "Idylle", I think.
Have you smelt it? It's very floral(jasmin)....too much for me.
The other one is "Aqua Allegoria". I liked it better, very fresh!
What do you think of them?

Idylle, etc

I agree 100% about Idylle - white florals are hard to take sometimes! If you want to try a really nice jasmine get your hands on a sample of Bulgari Jasmin Noir.
Aqua Allegoria is a Guerlain range of EdT scents - which one did you try? Sounds like Herba Fresca, which has notes of grass, lemon and tea - I love it! Great for summer.
If you like it, buy it now, because the AA scents are only in the line for about a year, then discontinued when Guerlain introduces new ones each Spring.
Happy spritzing!