The Maison Guerlain’s handsome four-storey marble and onyx Peter Marino-designed store on the Champs Elysées is an olfactory oasis, one that takes shoppers on a historic journey through every fragrance created by Guerlain – including the cologne made for Eugénie de Montigo when she married Napoleon in 1853.
But instead of lingering on the beauty-focused upper floors, my preferred ritual is to take the marble staircase down to Le 68 (second picture), the restaurant and pâtisserie from Michelin-starred Guy Martin, to savour the chef’s sensorial culinary collaborations with Guerlain’s in-house “nose” Thierry Wasser.
“I believe in crossing paths,” says Martin, who also owns Le Grand Véfour restaurant. “My mother wore Guerlain’s Shalimar perfume, and I was intrigued to participate in the launch of a restaurant where the perfumes are reflected in the food.”
The interior is 1950s in style, hewn in pink, grey and pale mauve and hung with Baccarat chandeliers. Vintage-inspired glass counters showcase cakes and pastries (from €2.20, first picture), own-brand candles (€66) and honey (€15) from Guerlain’s hives outside Paris. Retro 1950s postcards (€3.50) can be deposited in a special Guerlain postbox.
While from the restaurant menu I can recommend the grilled cod “La Petite Robe Noire” with crushed vegetables (€30); poached foie gras millefeuille with Madagascan vanilla, pieds bleu mushrooms and passion fruit (€30); and for dessert, the giant Shalimar macaron flavoured with clementine and bergamot (€14), the real find is the fragrant Guerlain tea list. These teas exquisitely reflect the vanilla and amber accords often found in Guerlain fragrances – the selection took tea specialist Constance Braud more than a year to perfect. “You can change the world with a cup of tea,” she says. “It’s drinkable perfume.”
Try the Shalimar blend, with its green and black leaves and notes of vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, lavender and bergamot, or La Petite Robe Noire, with almond, fruit and spice. I also love Liu, a green jasmine from China, and Habit Rouge, a slightly smoky black tea, but my favourite is Nerolia Blanca, Chinese white tea from Fujian Province. All are available to sip-in (from €8), or to take away in beautiful black collectors’ tins (€35, third picture).