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Provence Colognes    


Article by Grady McGill

Photography by Stock Image + Mary Welch

Provence, France, is a region in a perfume bottle. The lyrical south of France abounds in fields of lavender, tuberose, lemons, limes, jasmine, mimosa, rosemary oranges, bergamot and thyme. The world’s iconic perfume brands—everything from Chanel to Dior, Guerlain and L’Occitane—put Provence’s bounty into their scents. 

But after a stay in Provence, we were intrigued by the smaller, local perfume companies, many of which are family-run, that offer another distinct take on the perfumes and colognes of Provence.

Here are our favorite colognes for men that are made in Provence.

  • Galerie des Perfumes is a small shop run by perfumer Albert Walcz (the nose) and his daughter, Mercedes, who enjoys helping you select your personal fragrance. Be forewarned! Her English is probably as good as your French! The artisan brand offers more than 50 scents for women and men. The three leading men’s scents are: Gold, with mixtures of amber, mandarin and cinnamon; Olympus, with sandalwood, vanilla, amber and orange blossom leading the way; and New Artist, which includes grapefruit, laurel, sandalwood and amber, which adds a nice warm feeling to the cologne.
  • Durance is another well-known Provence cologne, and for men they make eau de toilettes, shaving and skincare products. They offer three colognes for men, and we purchased two. Sea Buckthorn is a citrus scent with woody overtones that was launched in 2006. Its top notes are bergamot along with notes of sea buckthorn, artemisia, lemon, fern and lavender. The base notes are sandalwood, petitgrain and cedar. I had never heard of a sea buckthorn; turns out, it’s a shrub. The second Durance cologne I bought was Fig Tree Wood, which offers a warm green scent with the notes of fig and the sap in fig tree wood dominating the scent. I love this in the winter as it is warm and sensual.
  • Rogers & Gallet was created in 1862 by brothers-in-law Armand Roger and Charles Gallet, and their fragrances are just as wonderful now as they were 100 years ago. Try L’Homme Menthe (loosely translated “Mint Man”). Launched in 2019, it has a spicy scent with top notes of bergamot, basil, mint and spicy mint. Other notes include lavender, clary sage, cardamom, black pepper and guaiac wood. Verveine Utopie is a male cologne, but it also could be used easily by women. It has a fresh citrus scent with exotic verbena, gentian root, cedarwood, verbena, cardamon and guaiac wood. This cologne will make you happy because it's fresh and exhilarating.
  • Panier des Sens Provence products are often found in upscale home and beauty stores and are easily recognizable by the beautiful, floral designs on the boxes and bottles. My favorite is the Panier des Mens Provence Eau de Perfume Firming Sea Fennel, an outdoors fragrance that will remind you of being by the water with notes of sea fennel, melon, white musk, sandalwood and cedarwood. This is a perfect cologne for a bright, sunny day.

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