Calanques by L'Occitane

I have to confess, when I first when I saw this fragrance, I didn't have high hopes for it. I was expecting something along the lines of Davidoff's Cool Water, or some other unisex, aquatic  fragrance, rampant amongst the perfume counters from November through February every year.

I cant say I was completely captivated by it at first sniff, because it was pretty much what I thought it would be; ozonic, cold, unisex, and aquatic. But for some reason, I kept thinking about it, trying to recreate it in my scent memory. Whilst it was a predictable summer fragrance, there was something about that that set it apart from the other ozone/aquatics I compared it to. What was it exactly? I had to find out, so went back to L'occitane for a sniff.... and ended up buying it on the spot.

Calanques is the french word for inlet, and L'Occitane has given us the uncanny ability to be transported to the south of France with just one sniff. The inspiration for the fragrance came from the the Mediterannean Sea inlets, the vegetation and the ensconcing white limestone cliffs. Forget beach umbrellas, coconuts, tropical fruit, bikinis and crowded beaches- this is an intimate journey to a hideaway Mediterranean beach, Population: You.

From the first spray, one experiences a salty ocean spray. Its so authentic, its as if you have just emerged from a dip in the ocean, with the scent of the briny waters clinging to your cold, goose-bumped skin. Theres no musk here, nor suntan lotion. Just pure, salt water, tinged with the balsamic scent of pine needles and sticky cypress trees. The choice of using these two trees in combination with salt water is utter genius- THIS is what the beach smells like.

Tolaga Bay Wharf- New Zealand
It brings to life the memories of me as a kid, tip-toeing through a carpet of pine needles to get to the public toilets on the beach at Tolaga Bay- clutching at the gnarled and knotted pine tree trunks to keep my balance as I shivered beneath a raggy towel. These trees were gigantic, they creaked like an old, sagging house, the sheer size of them casting an ominous shadow-canopy that eerily contrasted with the sun-drenched shore only meters away. A green note of samphire (also known as sea-asparagus) lends a cucumber-esque vegetal freshness that is predictable, but it works well amongst the salt and trees. Citrus notes of amalfi lemon coupled with the salty water notes add a brightness to evoke sparkling waters so real, you can almost hear the lazy splishes of the water lapping at the shore.

There really are no stand out notes in this composition, its a flawless blend of such simple, yet deeply evocative ingredients of nature. Lasting power is pretty darn good for an EDT, lasting a good 5-6 hours.

Calanques is what I would call an organic scent rather than a perfume. Its perfectly unisex without being overtly masculine or feminine. After all, the beach has no gender, so why should a olfactory reconstruction have one too? What I really love about this fragrance is the uncanny ability to be transported back in time, to recapture memories of days at the beach on the East Coast. I've never been to a beach where you smell coconuts and fruit, yet this is what has been dished up to us every summer for years- so its somewhat liberating to finally be given the real deal without the airbrushing and soft focus lens.

For me, nothing evokes summer more than Calanques and its authentic briny scent.

Calanques EDT is a Limited Edition fragrance available from L'Occitane and retails at $66 NZD for 50mls.


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