Definitely to be sniffed at!
MLP’s Jen Hamerman took her seven year old to explore the sights and smells of our city’s elegant and interactive new perfume museum. It turns out it’s a lot of fun for curious kids.
Le Grand Musée du Parfum (not to be confused with the older Fragonard perfume museum) has just opened in a beautiful 19th-century mansion on the rue Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, a street that always twinkles anyway, but especially during the festive season. We had heard the new museum was very interactive and a ‘sensory journey’ so we thought we’d try it out with our seven-year-old girl as a fun end to the Christmas holidays.
The most elegant museum in town
I suppose the clue was in the elegant location, but our first impression, as we stepped off the street and walked up the entrance to the museum, was that we were entering a rather exclusive and chic store. Money has clearly been spent on the design of this new space and everything looks just impeccable. The security guard and receptionist and the scores of staff were dressed and smiling as though they were about to sell us some fashionable and understated luxury goods. I had to give myself a quick kick to remind myself I was on a family museum outing, rather than a designer shopping trip. Was this really going to be kid-friendly?
It turns out I needn’t have worried. The first section of the exhibition is down in the basement and centres on historic uses of perfume. It’s interesting enough and my daughter enjoyed looking at the beautiful old perfume bottles. But the real fun begins as you work your way up the building and explore the interactive sections. There are wheels to turn that release scent. Our favourite was a flower sculpture that features light, sound and smell to bring different scents to life as you stick your head in each flower. Another hit with my daughter was the entrancing art installation by London’s Jason Bruges Studio that uses glass prisms, music and light to illustrate how a perfume laboratory works and the different notes that make a perfect scent. She just loved being in the dark room and watching the light show.
Get spraying those designer scents!
There was also a game that she enjoyed playing with her Dad. You each sit on either side of a sofa and ‘send’ each other smells via the screen, embedded in the sofa. Your opponent has to identify the smell and send you one back for you to guess. Favourites were ‘horse’ and ‘mint’. Her highlight though, was the final section before you leave. A gallery that looks exactly like the perfume department in a grand department store, complete with endless bottles of expensive perfume that you can spray on sticks. Or on your family. I sneezed a lot and we were very fragrant on the metro ride home.
We had to reflect that such a beautiful, elegant museum dedicated just to aesthetic and sensory delights could only really exist in Paris and it’s worth a visit for that reason alone. It really is something to behold and is sort of a tribute to Parisian style that it even exists. But is this a kid-friendly venue? Well, there is no question it will definitely appeal to kids aged six and over, who will be interested in the art and science behind perfume-making and will enjoy the opportunities to sniff and touch when so many museums have a ‘no-touch’ policy. We don’t think there is enough there to interest the pre-school crowd so would not advise dragging them around it.
If you visit, be sure to let MLP know what you thought!
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10.30am till 7pm, late night opening till 10pm on Fridays.
Ticket prices are €14.50 for an adult and €5 for a child aged 6 – 12. Family packages are also available.