Bal A Versailles by Jean Desprez 1962


Post by Portia


Heya Crew,

Last year Bal A Versailles was discontinued. It was quite a shock because I thought it was one of those fabulous fragrances that would go on forever. Sadly no. So obviously I went crazy buying new and old and now have quite a hoard. PHEW!

Bal A Versailles by Jean Desprez 1962

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Rosemary, orange blossom, mandarin orange, cassia, jasmine, rose, neroli, bergamot, Bulgarian rose, lemon
Heart: Sandalwood, patchouli, lilac, orris root, vetiver, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, leather
Base: Tolu balsam, amber, musk, benzoin, civet, vanilla, cedar, resins

Why did I feel the need to grab loads? Is Bal A Versailles an incredible fragrance, even still after multiple reformulations, IFRA challenges and a clearly dwindling need to stay incredible?

Well, I didn’t merely buy up new, I also scanned the eBay pages and peoples documents. It became a little bit of an obsession.

So I have told of my using Mum’s miniature Bal A Versailles parfum on the Barbies as a kid. The smell seems to have been with me on and off throughout my life. Comfortable and warm, its richness and plush glamour offset by the very mundane daily sniffings of it through the years. I have hazy recollections of smelling it on my Mum while we’d be sharing the couch and watching TV companionably after dinner or the golf/tennis on a weekend (me bored to death but happy to be hanging with my Mum) when I would make us sandwiches and either milkshakes or coffee depending on season.

Bal A Versailles Jean Desprez Chateau_de_Versailles WikiMediaWikiMedia

Then later in life to rediscover its beauty in a 4ml vintage parfum. Moving forward to recently when my mate Scott arrives some days lierally bathed in the radiance of Bal A Versailles and then we do office work and go to the various errands that need doing with me awash in his massive sillage.

How does Bal A Versailles smell? Big, fun, over the top. It’s a grand high kitchen sink fragrance that is to scent what Phil Spectre’s Wall Of Sound was to music. Think Tina Turner’s River Deep, Mountain High or The Ronettes’ Be My Baby. A cacophony of fruit and flowers underpinned by resins, woods and animalics. Nothing smells quite like it but I sometimes get Tabu, Aromatics Elixir and Dia mixed up with it when I smell them on other people. Nope, they’re not the same but they all have a similar sillage in dry down.

Is it a Must Try vintage? Probably not. Am I sad to see it discontinued? Yes, there was a place for Bal A Versailles but clearly it wasn’t selling enough to continue.

Bal A Versailles Jean Desprez Réception_du_Grand_Condé_à_Versailles WikipediaWikipedia

Further reading: MuseInWoodenShoes, Australian Perfume Junkies and ThePerfumePosse
Beauty Encounter has a range od EdT and Parfume
SurrenderToChance has all sorts starting at $3/ml

What vintage do you hoard? Do you have a bal A Versailles story?
Portia xxx

18 thoughts on “Bal A Versailles by Jean Desprez 1962

  1. I love the comparison’s to Phil Spectre’s Wall of Sound, Portia. Very unique, clever and apt, as usual.

    I’ve long felt I wasn’t up to Bal a Versailles, but of course, now it’s been discontinued I want to get to know it.

    As you may know, my small stash is of vintage Vol de Nuit.


    • YUMMY! Love VdN, I have a small stash myself. old and new. What a frag.
      Come to Sydney and spend a week or two in the frag Room with me.
      Portia xxx


  2. Hi Portia,
    I still can’t admit that I “hoard” anything. I collect! 😉 That being said, down in the storage there are probably more versions and back-ups of vintage Fidi than anything else, each one a carefully planned purchase. I was surprised, though, to find so many dupes of so may other things, many spur of the moment buys, duplicates of fragrances I forgot I had, etc. Re Bal A Versailles: I think it IS a must try vintage, not because it was a ground breaking fragrance but simply because it was everywhere and so popular for so many years. Even reformulated it serves as a significant fragrance time machine
    Azar xx


    • Hey azar,
      Every time I see Fidji on eBay I think of you. There’s been quite a lot lately.
      Yes, you’re right. Not reference but definitely BaV defined an era,
      Portia xx


  3. Hi Portia, I’ve read about BAV but haven’t tried it. Been eyeballing some on ebay. How does the vintage cologne hold up? I have several bottles of vintage Nahema PDT and it’s fantastic!


  4. Oh Lord!, as we say here in the South. Bal à Versailles has been discontinued.. I didn’t know that and am so disappointed. It is one of those fragrances that I’ve kept on hand just to know
    that it’s there, and from time to time have a deep desire to wear it. Why, oh why would they need to do that? Surely it is popular enough to keep making it…Bless their hears, they must not
    know how that scent is so beloved.


  5. I have for as long as I can remember owned a bottle of Bal a Versailles, admittedly it is only used on rare occasions, but OMG to not be able to wear it at all upsets me very much. This perfume reminds me of nights at the opera as I think it is very much suited to evenings of high drama. Glad I still have some and think I will have to try and find another pretty soon.


    • Hey virginia,
      It’s still available on the discounters shelves here in Sydney so I imagine it’s everywhere else for a while yet.
      Portia xx


    • Hey Anna Maria,
      The ones I saw earlier must have sold out. I can’t find ANY in Australia.
      Portia xx


  6. Wow, discontinued?!? That upsets me, but I already have enough. I’m thinking of all the people yet to smell it! “Bathed in its radiance” is exactly how I feel when I wear BaV , thanks Portia! X


    • It’s pretty damn yummy Scott. I thought we’d discussed its discontinuation last year when the list came out? That’s why we stocked up.
      Portia xx


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