At the heart of this orchestra reigned a luxuriant vegetation of almost tropical allure.
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The place that the Great King had accorded to the orange trees had not escaped the notice of the Siamese ambassadors. He added that there were many kings who could not match them in beauty.
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And he was soon able to pride himself in owning the largest collection in Europe. Am I not correct in saying that our incomparable State is a Paradise of delights for those who wish to satiate their senses and spend their lives enjoying its pleasures: for the Olfactory senses find such abundant material to satisfy them here. Unfortunately, he consumed so much perfume that he developed an allergy to it. The mere trace of a perfume was enough to trigger excruciating migraines. Only one scent remained an exception: orange blossom.
With the exception of orange blossom, he could stand them no longer. After the pungent scents and heavy animal musks, ambers and civets that had dominated perfumes since the Renaissance and were used to mask bad odours and protect people from them, Louis XIV spearheaded a new olfactory fashion with orange blossom, one with elegant and fresh notes.
What was this distinctive odour that had so captivated the King that he added several drops to his drinks and sprayed his apartments with it using solid silver syringes? While several recipes have been exhumed from the buried secrets of History, there are uncertainties as to the exact formula used by Louis XIV. We can however reconstitute the logical sequences that permitted the orange blossom, whose flowers were used in the distillation of the eponymous perfume, to establish itself at court. He wrote two perfumery manuals, in which he developed his knowledge and revealed his craft with great precision.
Essence of orange blossom is an essential oil obtained by extraction via steam distillation of fresh flowers from the bitter orange blossom plant, Citrus bigaradia or the sweet orange blossom, Citrus aurantium.
The harvest and distillation of the flowers takes place from the end of April to the beginning of June in the Mediterranean region. The yield varies according to weather conditions and extraction conditions. The first notes of Petitgrain suggest the willowy branches and green leaves of the King's orange blossom. They are coloured by the acidulous touches of Orange, mixed with those of Lemon and of Bergamot, of Basil and Mint, added as an allusion to the aqua mirabilis of the era. At its centre, the Orange blossom flower unfolds its silky petals.
Their gilded shine, enriched by the honeyed aromas of Ylang-Ylang and Seringa, complement those of the Sun King. With but a murmur, it diffuses its precious perfume with honeysuckle echoes. Lavender and Thyme both punctuate all these white-petalled perfumes.
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In the background, Patchouli, Vetiver and Oakmoss prolong this prior moment spent ambling between trees and their precious flowers. Their intoxicating scent cradles our every step.
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