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18 French Perfume Brands That Are Iconic

Here are the most iconic French perfume brands of all time for your collection!

Paris is not only the capital of fashion, but the French indeed have a way with fragrances too! Not only that but Paris is known for having exquisite perfume shops.

We will look into a ton of French perfumes to find out more about them, which you can try out when in Paris. 

Maybe you won’t have the privilege to visit the city, but you can still smell like the French anywhere you are! 

You can get the background of these French scents and what they offer to men and women. 

Some have a variety of notes, whereas others stick to a signature top note and only change the base notes around. Time to explore the best French perfume brand.

18 Best French Perfume Brands That Are Iconic

Here are some of the best French brands from around the country, but especially from Paris, that French women and men swear by.

1. Chanel

Chanel is, without a doubt, one of the most famous French perfumes known worldwide. 

Being one of the first women in history to take hold of her future, Gabriella Chanel, an exquisite French designer, started her own clothing line and later, in 1921, released her own fragrance house with what would be one of the most beloved scents in the world.

Chanel No 5 was her first fragrance with the signature scent she used to describe a woman.

The famous Chanel No 5 must’ve stuck forever when, in 1952, Marilyn Monroe mentioned that it was her go-to perfume. 

Today, Chanel No 5 is still the signature perfume of this brand, with five different variations, and it is the scent of feminism. An aldehyde, floral aroma with base notes of sandalwood and vanilla in a simplistic bottle, exactly like Gabriella Chanel wanted it.

Different French models and actresses have starred in Chanel No 5 over the years. 

Women have an option between 14 different Chanel perfumes, each having variations. Chanel No 5, Coco Mademoiselle, and Gabrielle Chanel scents are the top favorites. 

Men also have options at Chanel, where the Allure Homme range and Bleu de CHANEL are popular.

Gaspard Ulliel, a deceased French actor, starred in Bleu de Chanel campaigns prior to his accident.

Chanel is also a well-known makeup brand with incredible products!

2. Dior

French fashion house Dior is one of the brands on Chanel’s heels regarding popularity and age. 

From an early age, Christian Dior, one of the most famous French people, had an artsy streak and sold sketches on the street. 

His father hoped he would go into a political job, but instead, he wanted to do art. He had a successful art gallery that had to close during the great depression. 

He went into fashion, nothing stopping his dream and passion. He successfully opened Dior’s fashion house in 1946 and launched the first Haute Couture line in 1947. 

However, haute couture is not for everyone. So, to open up the Dior brand to more people, he released his first perfume, Miss Dior, in 1947. 

He named the first perfume after his sister, who survived the concentration camps during the war. 

The perfume’s composition has fruity and floral notes, leading to musk and spicy undertones. 

It brought his sister to eternal life in a scent and is still one of the public’s favorites today. 

Today, Dior celebrates nine women’s perfume collections and five men’s collections. The women’s collections that stand out the most are Poison, J’adore, and the first love from this brand, Miss Dior

These fragrances all start with a fruity scent, leading you through an array of florals and settling with a unique aroma of either vanilla, almonds, or a woody undertone. 

The men’s fragrances popular amongst users are the Dior Homme collection and Dior Sauvage. 

The Sauvage perfumes have top notes of fruit, leading to spicy florals, and end with a woody and vanilla base note. Dior Homme is all about florals and nutty and woody scents. 

3. Lancôme

Lancôme has been part of the L’Oréal group since 1964, which is well-known worldwide as a leading French skincare brand

This brand started in France in 1935 with Armand Petitjean as the owner of this soon-to-be inspirational perfume brand. 

He began with five perfumes, and they were a success from the get-go. The perfumes, and the name, were inspired by the Lancome forest in the center of France.

Today, you will find all kinds of beauty products with the brand tag, Lancôme, but the perfumes were the first.

They focus on protecting the Earth, bringing women confidence, and making them feel beautiful. 

The three collections available are La Vie Es Belle, Idôle, and Trésor. With multiple options under each collection, any woman that loves a sweet scent will find a fragrance to love. 

For example, Lancôme has a signature of sweet fruity top notes, leading to floral aromas and leaving you breathless with sweet caramel, chocolaty, and nutty base notes. 

4. Aerin

The famous Esteé Lauder was Aerin Lauder’s grandmother, so you can imagine how the timeline unfolds to where Aerin also made a distinct mark in the fragrance industry. 

Although her heritage is in France, she grew up in California and spent holidays in France. 

As a result, she had the opportunity to release her own line of perfume collections in 2012, showcasing her passion for perfumes. 

The Aerin Lauder collections are about honoring the woman who wears it in every part of her day or night. 

Thus you can find something to wear on an average day, for a particular business meeting, and even for a romantic night out. 

The Aerin Lauder fragrance collection focuses on 16 scents varying between different floral accents mixed with wood and oil undertones giving a great range of options. 

The Rose collection celebrates this popular flower in three elegant, timeless scents. The final premier collection portrays luxury mixed with the signature floral to give any woman authority. 

The Amber Musk, part of the signature fragrance collection, is one of the top sellers with a clear amber and musk scent, accompanied by coconut, lily, and a hint of rose. A top seller in the Rose collection is the Rose de Grasse

It invites you in with a watery musk scent, hugging you with a French and Bulgarian rose middle tone and softly letting you go with a woody musk undertone. 

The top seller in the premier collection is the Limone Di Sicilia. This scent greets you with a fruity lemon scent, taking you through a floral garden of may rose and jasmine and ending it with a smooth, salty, earthy aroma. 

5. Goutal

Goutal, a perfumerie inspired by women, emotions, and love, was set in Paris in 1981. 

Annick Goutal started a fragrance line that would soon take over the perfume world because of its elegance and delicacy, in contrast to the competition’s robust scents. 

Annick Goutal’s daughter, Camille Goutal, and Isabelle Doyen, worked together to put forth her mother’s vision. She used her expertise to improve the brand. 

They use memories and emotions to bring the public scents that will pull their heartstrings and take them on a journey of discovery. 

A favorite is the Tenue de Soiree Goutal, with a beautiful purple bottle and fluff to add a striking look. 

Aromas of fruit like bergamot and black current, married with the soft tones of flowery iris, jasmine, and rose scents, lead you on a journey of exploration. The trip ends with fine leather, caramel, and musk undertones. 

Other favorites among women are Eau D’Hadrien and Petite Chérie. They have a range of Eau de parfums and Eau du toilettes, ranging from floral or fruity to woody and spicy. 

6. Ex Nihilo – Paris

A perfume brand from Paris existing since 2013 with a futuristic vision, banishing all stereotypes and pushing boundaries. 

The trio that started the brand, Sylvie Loday, Olivier Royѐre, and Benoît Verdier, are all about being different, unique, and giving a unique scent to the users. 

They make a statement with a signature bottle design for all the different scents for men and women. Most of their perfumes are unisex, with a few dedicated to females. 

A top seller is Fleur Narcotique which provides a scent for men and women. The opening notes lure you in with a sweet smell of litchi and peaches. 

It follows by wrapping you with an amazing combination of floral accents like peony, jasmine, and orange blossoms. Finally, it rests you down in a bed of warm, woody, mossy, and musk undertones. 

Other favorites are the unisex scents Amber Sky, Midnight Special, and French Affair. 

All of these have a unique smell, indicating how people find their uniqueness in their perfumes. The most popular female perfume is Lust in Paradise, with a fresh, floral fragrance. 

7. Chloé

The beautiful name of this brand might tell you that they focus on women’s perfumes. 

The Egyptian woman, Gaby Aghion, who started the brand with her French partner, Jacques Lenoir, opened the Chloé brand in 1952. 

The name came from one of Gaby’s friends, and it was the name of an ancient goddess. 

The first fragrance was released in 1975, named Chloé fragrance for women, and is still available today. 

It is the perfect perfume that lasts all day. High notes of light and fruity scents lead into a garden of pink and white florals like roses and jasmine and undertones of amber, wood, and musk. 

A remake of the original Chloé, Chloé Eau De Parfum, presented in 2008, highlights a more floral scent. 

Other popular scents include Chloé Eau de Parfum Intense, Chloé Eau de Parfum Naturella, and Chloé Fleur de Parfum. 

8. Jean Paul Gaultier

The perfume bottle everyone has seen before – a women’s silhouette and a muscular men’s silhouette is this iconic brand’s signature perfume bottle. 

Jean-Paul Gaultier started with fashion in 1976 and, in 1993, launched his first perfume, Classique, which was a hit straight away. 

For each women’s collection, there is a men’s perfume collection. These French scents are known worldwide, and you will undoubtedly find a scent. 

The collections are Classique female and Le Male, La Belle and Le Beau, Scandal female, and Scandal Homme. Ma Dame is the only collection that doesn’t have a corresponding male collection. 

The Classique is still a favorite, with floral and fruity top notes flowing into more robust floral notes and undertones of cinnamon and vanilla. 

Le Male has opening notes of mint and lavender, getting stronger with cinnamon and caraway and leaving behind a woody amber scent. 

9. Vilhelm Parfumerie

The French fragrance with striking yellow packaging will catch your eye from afar. With catchy packaging, the scents are not too far off from catchy too. 

A relatively new brand on the block, since 2005, Jan Ahlgren started his own perfume brand. 

As a previous model and handbag designer, he was urged to start his own perfume brand. 

However, after designing his signature perfume, he couldn’t stop there and is still actively making new perfumes for Vilhelm Perfumerie today. 

Focussing on unisex scents, Vilhelm took the French fragrance market by storm. The best-sellers are Smoke show, Mango Skin, Poets of Berlin, and Dear Polly.

Poets of Berlin is a simple and sweet scent but striking. It invites you in with a sweet blueberry and lemon top note, changing into a bamboo scent and leaving a moderate sillage of vanilla and sandalwood undertones. 

10. Yves Saint Laurent

He was a little boy with a passion, starting his own fashion range at only 21 years of age and never looking back. 

Yves Saint Laurent was born to dominate the beauty world, and in 1962 launched his first fashion range. 

In 1964 his first perfume, Y, was inspired by his fashion and the prestigious women he dresses. 

In 1971, he took the public’s breath away when he launched his first men’s fragrance and posed naked for the launch of it. He could never be put in a box, and his French scents speak this too. 

The most popular range from YSL that everyone knows or has seen before is the Opium collection for men and women. 

Black Opium took the world by storm in 2014 and is still a hot favorite today, especially for a night out. 

The pepper and pear initial scents lead you through a world of wonder, with licorice, coffee, and jasmine following through and leaving enough for the imagination when settling with sweet vanilla and cashmere wood undertones. 

Recently launched Libre has proven to be a success.

11. Diptyque

A strange start to a brand that would soon become one of the top French scents everyone loves. 

In 1961, three artists and friends, Yves Coueslant, Christiane Gautrot, and Desmond Knox-Leet, opened their own boutique. 

It was home to art, different textiles, and art items they got worldwide from their travels. 

In 1968, they incorporated their first fragrance, L’Eau. They envisioned a textile scent they wanted to copy and got it right. 

The Diptyque fragrance became very popular; later, they could remake different textile scents into perfume. 

They present primarily unisex fragrances; a popular one is 34 Boulevard Saint Germaine. It has a warm spicy scent, starting with cinnamon, cardamom, and citrus top notes. 

It then softens down with a floral bouquet of rose, violet, and iris and rests into undertones of wood, resin, and eucalyptus. 

12. Hermѐs

A house with a different history than the other perfume houses, making it quite unique. Hermѐs was established in 1837 as a harness-making business by Thierry Harnѐs. 

Since then, six generations have led the house and built it up to where it is today. 

Starting with harnesses, adding saddles, leather handbags, and in the 1950s, a perfume for men and women named Eau d’Hermѐs. 

The first fragrance was unisex and, without thinking too hard about it, had a prominent spicy leather scent mixed with vanilla. 

Other popular ones are Un Jardin Sur Le Nil by Hermѐs (unisex), Terre D’Hermѐs (men), and 24 Faubourg Hermѐs (women). 

13. Guerlain

The house of Guerlain also dates way back to 1828, when Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain started to sell scented soaps, lipsticks, and other beauty products. 

The first perfume he released was in 1853, Eau de Cologne Impériale, and catered to the upper-class French, like emperors and empresses. 

Today, the house of Guerlain has produced over 400 fragrances inspired by nature, and they are driven to preserve and protect the Earth. 

Their face, Angelina Jolie, is part of their initiative to invest in the protection of bees worldwide. 

They have a range of fragrances for male, female, and unisex scents. 

The popular ones you can still find today are Mon Guerlain, Mouchoir de Monsieur, Mon Exclusif, Mahora, and Le Plus Beau Jour de Ma Vie. The newest launch is Imagine Guerlain, with spicy fruit and floral scent. 

The perfume bottles are vintage and follow somewhat the same design, but the fragrances cannot be more different. Some focus on musky tones, whereas others are all floral. 

Nevertheless, you can be sure that you will find something you like in their collection, and everything is inspired by nature. 

14. Mugler

Thierry Mugler started his career and fashion brand in 1973. Little did he know that his debut fragrance, Angel, launched in 1992, would blow the minds of most. 

This first-ever Gourmand fragrance (inspired by food) would make the brand one of the best. 

The intense fragrances of this French perfume brand are breathtaking and lure anyone that passes the wearer. 

Angel was the first women’s scent, followed by Alien, and a new version, Alien Goddess

Angel takes you on an innocent journey from cotton candy, coconut, and fruits. 

It then introduces the additional sweetness of honey, red berries, and nutmeg and softly drops you into an ending of vanilla, caramel, and musk. 

15. Nina Ricci

A captivating story of a mother and son starting a brand from the ground up and succeeding. 

The House of Nina Ricci was founded in 1932 by her son, Robert Ricci, in Paris. The house released its first fragrance in 1946 called Coeur de Joie. 

House of Nina Ricci aims to capture femininity and beauty through delicate clothing and fragrances, taking on a journey of storytelling and symbolic meanings. 

The second perfume, produced in 1948, is a signature for Nina Ricci and is still one of the essence scents of the brand. 

This famous perfume’s name is L’Air du Temps, and it has a beautiful bottle design with two doves encircling the top. 

It has a full-bodied scent ranging from floral and fruity top notes like carnations, neroli, and peach to the middle notes of expanding carnations, orchids, and rosemary. 

The base notes bring out the spiciness of this timeless scent with musk, spices, and a variety of woods at the core. 

Today’s popular fragrances are L’Extase Rose Absolue, Love in Paris, Les Monstres de Nina Ricci Luna, and Luna. 

Although the brand is mainly for females, they also have a few men’s fragrances. Memoire D’homme is a favorite with its fresh, spicy, and fruity accents. 

16. Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Two men, Francis Kurkdjian and Marc Chaya, partnered and entered the perfume industry in 2009 with Maison Francis Kurkdjian. 

Francis Kurkdjian is a passionate and driven perfumer, and being one of the world’s most celebrated French perfumers, it shows. 

He was a perfumer for Jean Paul Gaultier, saw his own potential, and decided to start his own brand.

Marc Chaya brings the business aspect and a passion for art. He was dumbfounded when you met Francis and saw his talents. 

Still, he also saw the downfall in the fragrance industry’s recognition of talented perfumers like him. 

Together, they make a powerful team and have taken the world by a cloud of fragrance. 

Women’s, men’s, and unisex perfumes are in the collection of Maison Francis Kurkjian. 

The aim is to give everyone a scent for each occasion, calling it a fragrance wardrobe. The most popular perfumes for females are A La Rose, Amyris Femme, and L’eau Ά la Rose

Unisex fragrances are popular with Grand Soir, Absolue Pour le Soir, and 724. 

The popular male scents include Amyris Homme, APOM Pour Homme, and L’Homme Ά la Rose. 

Simple, timeless fragrances are their go-to, but they keep up with modern trends and give the client scents for each occasion. 

17. Maison Margiela – Paris

The founder of the brand was Martin Margiela, a Belgium designer that based the house in Paris in 1988. 

Haute Couture is the focus of this brand from the get-go, later adding ready-to-wear collections and accessories. 

The first fragrance was released in 2010, Untitled, representing the brand from the simplistic and clean bottle design to the fresh, woody, and green scent of the perfume itself. 

In 2012 the Replica collection was launched, and the latest collection is called Mutiny. 

The Replica collection replicates situations you might find yourself in. The Flower Market, Coffee Break, Jazz Club, or Lazy Sunday Morning

This is something else that no other brand has done before and attracts much attention. 

18. Frédéric Malle

A fascinating brand founded by Frédéric Malle, who was born into the perfume world and had over 30 years of experience in perfumery. 

In the year 2000, the brand was born, and he used some of the top perfumers worldwide to design fragrances for the brand. 

In exchange, he gives them free reins to design and adds their style to the scents and their name to the bottle. This is unique, and no other brand but Frédéric Malle does it.

The striking white, black, and red colors with identical design keep the bottle simple, but what you find inside is magical. 

A favorite for women is Lipstick Rose, a powdery floral and musky scent. 

Another one is Portrait of a Lady with rose and cinnamon top notes, changing into a warm and spicy tone of musk and amber. 

The unisex and male fragrances are also popular, with Musc Ravageur, Promise, and The Night amongst the favorites.

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18 Best French Perfume Brands That Are Iconic

1. Chanel

2. Dior

3. Lancôme

4. Aerin

5. Goutal

6. Ex Nihilo – Paris

7. Chloé

8. Jean Paul Gaultier

9. Vilhelm Perfumerie

10. Yves Saint Laurent

11. Diptyque

12. Hermѐs

13. Guerlain

14. Thierry Mugler

15. Nina Ricci

16. Maison Francis Kurkdjian

17. Maison Margiela – Paris

18. Frédéric Malle

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