Vol de Nuit by Jacques Guerlain 1933


Post by Tina G


“Too well we know a man’s failings, his cowardice and lapses, and our writers of today are all too proficient in exposing these… but we stood in need of one to tell us how a man may be lifted far above himself by his sheer force of will.” Preface – Vol de Nuit. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1931.

Vol de Nuit by Jacques Guerlain for Guerlain 1933

Vol de Nuit Guerlain FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, galbanum, petit grain
Heart: Jasmine, daffodil, spices
Base: Earthy woods, iris, vanilla, amber, woodsy notes.

What powers you on, to reach beyond what you thought was possible?

The heartbreakingly beautiful night-scape slides silently below. The endless shades of silver and midnight blue, white mountain peaks and low clouds reflecting the half-moonlight, the never-changing stars lost to the deep horizon. Flying feels like a time outside time, meditative, reflective, but never quite lonely as there is always that presence of the person who is so often in your thoughts, close enough to be at your shoulder but in reality so very far away.

Who brings your thoughts home?

Back in an age where air travel was in its infancy, the activity of night flight (vol de nuit) was much more immediate. Surrounded by dinky light globes, basic electrics and feeling every bump & jolt of the aircraft, night navigation was a treacherous task at best of times and drew on the absolute strength of spirit of the pilot. The 1931 novel Vol de Nuit, on which Guerlain based its fragrance by the same name, finds our heroic-hearted pilot flying through heavy clouds and raging winds of an unpredicted cyclonic storm – all distances skewed, fuel is ebbing, location is unknown and any minute all could be so easily lost.

Photo - Amarah Tabbaa - source  bottle that Tinas sample came fromPhoto Donated Amarah Tabbah

Where does the heart’s comfort lie when the end is looming?

Spring. The rich earth of the garden bed outside the small country cottage has been recently turned, but the rebellious daffodils and irises are sprouting directly from the edges of the lawn. On the warm air is the intoxicating scent of sweet jasmine. Wandering inside, the kitchen hearth is still smouldering, bringing a warm amber glow the room. On the rustic wooden table sits an old resinous wooden bowl, holding a few oranges and bumpy skinned lemons.

But…there is a feeling that someone has just been here, the swish of an apron, a laugh, the trail of gentle vanilla – moving through the cottage, the rooms get slightly darker and mustier until the boudoir is reached. A side dresser has evidence of feminine presence. A well-worn pink powder puff lies temporarily discarded, picking it up, breathing in, that musky-powderiness is like every act of comfort and kindness in your life all rolled into one, deep, breath.

Home is where the heart is.

Our fated night pilot, surrounded by biting gale-force winds and lost to the world of men, fighting with every sinew to survive, sees the clouds break for an instant and the cold stars shine up above. This is his one impossible chance at freedom, at reaching home and the person who holds his heart. He turns the plane, up and up, and with all his might and sheer force of will aims straight for those stars….

Surrender To Chance has Vol de Nuit samples starting at $3/ml

TinaG x

17 thoughts on “Vol de Nuit by Jacques Guerlain 1933

    • Thanks Jackie B – it was an evocative experience, fell instantly in love with this one. The daffodil got me, so unusual! But I’ve been advised, (and should flag with you if you’re sampling) that like most perfumes through the ages, the versions & strengths can smell quite different. This sample came from the brown ‘propellor’ bottle pictured which is an older one, possibly Parfum? Perhaps another reader can confirm.

      Tina x


    • Hey Portia, thank you! You hold a special place in my life, and I am so grateful for your friendship.

      I’m glad you liked the article – I had a bit of fun researching this, went to the library & read the book (it is very short). The fragrance was incredibly visual, hence the mix of story line and the comfort / home images from the scent.

      Lots of love
      Tina xx


  1. This is nothing short of great Tina. I have not tried it yet although I have wanted to for ages. I know it is an absolute favourite of Tara’s, from OT. I will ASAP. Hugs xxxx


    • Oh Val, thank you! VdN is … well, I struggle to find a single word for it actually – “wonderful” is one which fits. One of those times where I’ve been overwhelmed with visual impressions. A must try – I’d love to know what you think of it.

      Tina x


  2. Val’s right, VdN is my HG and you’ve done a great job with this post. Gorgeous.

    The propellor bottle is the parfum which is unsurprisingly the best formulation.


    • Hi Tara, I really did fall in love with VdN and the writing was a joy, so to hear compliments from yourself and other VdN admirers is really very special, thank you.

      I don’t know what to do now – I’ve only got about 1ml left of the sample and all of a sudden I’m torn between using it, and keeping it safe. I think I’m going to need a little more. 🙂

      Tina x


    • Thank you Catherine, that’s much appreciated. Right, the extrait is now on my list too – oh dear…what have I got myself in to? 🙂 Must be love.

      Look forward to seeing you Thursday.

      Tina x


      • Ah – sorry my coffee hasn’t kicked in yet – I think we’ve confirmed that it is the pure parfum which I’ve sampled. I’m planning on testing the EDT by way of comparison however.

        T x


  3. I didn’t know Vol de Nuit was inspired by Saint-Exupéry novel.. I will be surely looking for both, the book and the fragrance.

    Thanks for the evocative review Tina, very beautifully written.


    • Hi darkrose, and thank you. I found the English translation of the book in my local university library – a lovely, scruffy, yellow paged treasure. Maybe another person could make different correlations between fragrance and text, but this is the result of the combined journey they took me on.

      Tina x


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