My Christmas SOTD Etat Libre D’Orange Noel au Balcon

Perfume wearing is not usually something meant to happen on a specific day. It is meant to be worn on many different days with the only sort of restriction based on the temperature outside. Then there are the exceptions. One of only two perfumes I know of with the French word for Noel in the name Etat Libre D’Orange Noel au Balcon is a beautiful Holiday perfume.

My getting my hands on Noel au Balcon was one of my first forays into having someone bring me back a perfume while visiting Paris. Noel au Balcon was released in 2007 exclusively to French Sephora. I would find out about it on the fragrance discussion boards at Basenotes soon after. After some piteous cajoling I was sent a sample by a kind soul. Which was the worst thing because it was what I was hoping it would be. I would spend the next year figuring out how to score a bottle which I did in the early fall of 2008. After the 2008 Holiday season it was discontinued. Until it returned in 2010 as part of the permanent Etat Libre D’Orange collection. This has become my Christmas scent of the day (SOTD) on either December 24th or 25th. This year it will be my Christmas morning scent.

Antoine-Maisondieu

Antoine Maisondieu

Noel au Balcon comes from the beginning of a French proverb, "Noël au balcon, Pâques aux tisons." This translates to "If the weather is mild at Christmas it will be cold at Easter". In Poodlesville it is unseasonably mild so maybe a cold Easter is on its way. Perfumer Antoine Maisondieu has created one of the most interesting gourmands I own redolent of the sweet treats, spices, and alcohol of the Season.

Noel au Balcon opens on a honey drenched fruit accord of orange and apricot. Whenever I spray this on I see a slice of candied apricot or orange covered in viscous honey. The more I have seen honey-based fragrances go off the rails I have come to appreciate the restraint M. Maisondieu uses. This restraint is further displayed in the heart as cinnamon provides spicy contrast with clove and cumin as its running mates. When you look at those three notes the heart of Noel au Balcon could be a strident muddle. M. Maisondieu uses the clove and cumin to keep the cinnamon from becoming too much like Red Hots candy while retaining the fiery nature. It is a one-of-a-kind cinnamon accord. The base returns to a little soothing sweetness with vanilla and musk which overlay a dark earthy patchouli. Once this all comes together I always feel like this evokes one of those sterling silver punch bowls filled with mulled wine complete with orange slices floating on top.

Noel au Balcon has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

As much as I enjoy Noel au Balcon on Christmas it is a year-round choice for me and you can even catch me in a Christmas mood wearing it out for the evening in July. Merry Christmas to all the readers of Colognoisseur and I hope you are wearing a perfume which will make the Holiday memorable for you.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

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