Ever since our planned trip to Puerto Rico was cancelled over a month ago, I’d been itching to go on vacation—I was so restless I could barely concentrate on anything during the days leading up to our long weekend in Montréal. We did our entry “paperwork” all on the mandatory ArriveCAN app and arrived on the evening of Canada Day (Friday, July 1), either too late for fireworks or just not in the right area.
Montréal seems very friendly and laid-back, vibrant and walkable, with a good mix of large department stores and small, neighborhoody shops. One of our first stops (I say “our,” but my other half didn’t really have a choice in the matter) was the Barbie Expo, located inside a shopping mall. Free admission, walk in anytime during mall hours. I have never in my life been into Barbie dolls, but this is an amazing permanent collection of miniature fashion designs for almost any theme imaginable. Some of the characters could rival scaled-down wax museum statues.
Over the weekend, we did our fair share of walking, shopping, eating, and drinking (my other half found some interesting speakeasies; the experiences generally outdid the cocktails themselves). Worth a mention is the cat café, Café Chat L’Heureux—very relaxed atmosphere, good lattes, and several chill cats who couldn’t be more blasé about humans. I’m allergic to cats and didn’t feel a prickle in my nose even once. One of them might have had an aversion to the perfume I was wearing, Ormonde Jayne Montabaco, because every time I leaned over to try to pet it, it walked away.
We also managed to catch a concert as part of the free, outdoor Montréal Jazz Festival. Great vibes!
My first proper perfumery encounter in Montréal was at the department store Holt Renfrew, which reminded me of Selfridges in London (but not as edgy). Funnily enough, I just found out its parent company is Selfridges! The men’s fashion floor had several fragrance counters in a row and I was handed a blotter of Acqua di Parma Fico di Amalfi, which I’d smelled before but didn’t recognize because it was a lot more citrusy than I remembered. Next up was the new Hermès Terre d’Hermès Eau Givrée, which I really liked with its invigorating blast of citron, pepper, and juniper berry—I will need to try this some more. (I give myself a pat on the back because the sales associate said “berry” and at that moment I recognized juniper.)
We stayed actually very close to the long-standing perfumery Etiket, but I wasn’t ready to go in first thing Saturday morning without having had coffee yet and it was closed on Sunday, so this visit was a priority on Monday morning. It had two signs at opposite ends of a cat clinic, and as I wandered between them wondering which was the proper entrance, a sales associate who had seen me from the large, square window came out and guided us in, explaining that they were on the right side and were now on the left while construction was being done so they could expand to fill both.
Most of the space is dedicated to the spa portion of their business, so the perfumes were all lined up against one wall, which made browsing easy. The sales associates were very attentive, although they also left me alone to try things for a while. The selection was small compared with some other niche perfumeries, but high quality. They had the Canadian brand Zoologist and the newest creation, Sacred Scarab, ahead of the US market (I believe). I smelled it on a strip but will sheepishly admit that I don’t remember it very well now other than that it was resinous and pleasant—I tend to get a bit overwhelmed smelling different things in a short span of time.
Attar AT by Tauer Perfumes was delightfully complex—smoky and dense yet fresh at the opening, drying down to an animalic incense on the scent strip I kept in my bag all the way home. Vilhelm Parfumerie Mango Skin and Naomi Goodsir Corpus Equus both lived up to their names at first sniff.
I came away with a discovery set of Hermetica and a bottle of Heeley Note de Yuzu because—yes, I did it again—I was sold on the fizzy, bitter yuzu top note! If I’d waited for it to settle into the salty, beachy drydown on skin, I might have changed my mind as it’s a bit out of my comfort zone, but this will be great for upcoming hot summer days.
When it came time to choose samples, I decided to narrow it down by focusing on perfumes with a prominent iris note. I have L’Artisan Parfumeur Iris de Gris, Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Iris, and Imaginary Authors Yesterday Haze to look forward to!
6 thoughts on “C’est le fun! My sniffing tour of Montréal”
I prefer Corpus Equus too. Even though I like Cuir Velours it has a sticky sweetness from the rum and immortelle that can get a little cloying.
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Very cool, I will love to go back and visit there again!
Ah, that sounds like a fantastic trip. I’m yet to try the new Hermes and I’m itching to try those new L’Artisan scents. I loved Corpus Equus, but I’m a fan of smoky leather scents and Naomi’s range in general. They’re not crowd-pleasers for the most part, and it might be difficult to find a time to wear them. Hence I haven’t bought a bottle from her collection yet. Corpus Equus is at the top of the list though.
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I like leather scents too, but have to be careful because some can come off as sour to me. For example, I liked Corpus Equus much better than the leather note in Cuir Velours from the same range.
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