February 26, 2015

Fragrant Fun at the Fragonard Musée du Parfum

Sundays are usually pretty quiet around Paris. Many shops and attractions are closed, and it can sometimes be a bit challenging to find things to do outside the home. When the weather is nice, public parks are a great choice, but when it’s still a bit chilly, time is better spent indoors.

Looking for something original to do this past weekend, I came across the Le musée du parfum. I was already quite pleased to have found something open on a Sunday, but was even further delighted when I realized that entrance and guided tours are free.

Le musée du parfum, Paris
Le musée du parfum, just steps away from Opéra

Located near Opéra Garnier, the museum occupies several rooms of a beautiful Napoleon III townhouse. Each room contains magnificent artifacts including intricate perfume bottles, antique production tools and vintage labels. 

Vintage perfume bottle labels at Le musée du parfum, Paris
A selection of fabulous vintage perfume labels
Fragonard celebrates jasmine in 2015
In 2015, Fragonard celebrates jasmine with a dedicated collection

Perfume organ at Le musée du parfum, Paris
An impressive perfume organ beckoning an expert nose

In just half an hour, a guide led us through the history of perfume and the Fragonard brand. We discovered the incredible quantity of flower petals it takes to create just a few ounces of essence (literally tons), learned about the training and career of a “nose” (There are only two schools in the entire world, both in France.) and even got to try our hand at identifying scents during a matching game.

Our tour concluded in the gift shop, where we gathered around a counter to sample some of their most notable fragrances. And although purchases were not obligatory, it was hard to leave empty-handed!

Le musée du parfum
9 rue Scribe
75009 Paris

February 20, 2015

Interview with French Singer-Songwriter Nils

With over 1,100 likes on Facebook, more than 3,000 followers on Instagram and 6,100+ views of  his song "Moonlight" on YouTube, French singer-songwriter Nils is taking the French music scene by storm. Between writing and recording his first album, he was kind enough to tell me more about how he got his start, what inspires him and what he's got in store for his fans.

Singer-songwriter Nils
Nils. Photo credit: Jonas Missaye

How did you get your start in music?
It all started in Amsterdam, when I bought a very cheap electric guitar without knowing how to play it. One of my uncles showed me three chords so I could play ‘Love Me Do’ by The Beatles. I later went to England (Leicester) to study, and wrote my first songs there. When I came back to France, I did my first radio shows and gigs. I enjoyed it so much that I never stopped. 

Which instruments do you play? How did you learn?
As I said earlier, I was taught the first three guitar chords by a relative. The rest I just looked up on the internet. Last year I went to The Brighton Institute of Modern Music (Brighton, UK), and learned a lot there. I began playing the piano as well. It helps me compose new songs.

Where do you find inspiration for your songs? 
I talk a lot about myself and my experiences in my songs, but anyone can identify with them as it’s the normal life of a young guy. I have to admit that I talk a lot about love. I blame the stereotypical French in me for that…

Any groups or artists that you admire?
I am a huge fan of bands like Portugal. The man, Mac Demarco, Half Moon Run. These are the artists I love at the moment. But there are some not so recent artists that I have always admired such as Eric Clapton, Simon and Garfunkel and John Lennon.

What can you tell us about your first album? When and how can we get a copy?
My first album is being recorded at the moment. It seems like I have been preparing for it for the last 5 years. It’s only recently that I felt like I had all the material to record it. 

It’s being made in a home studio and I want people to be able to feel that; to feel like we are in the same room when they listen to it. I didn’t want a huge studio to record it, it would have taken away from the intimacy of it.  

I’m not signed to any label at the moment so I don’t have to hurry to finish it. I can take the time I want for it to be perfect. I will announce the launch date on my different social media pages (see below). 

Where can we catch you live? Any upcoming concerts in Paris? 
the last few years, I have done a lot of gigs in everywhere from small pubs, to 800 people concert halls and playing in the middle of a football stadium before a French premier league game. I love playing live and want to do it as much as possible. However, in the next few months, I will focus on recording my album and music videos. This work needs to be done so I can begin my tour, including a stop in Paris. I will announce dates when the time is right and when I think my album is ready.

Listen to "Moonlight" below

Like what you hear? You can follow Nils on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SoundCloud and YouTube.