Bois de Paradise by Michel Roudnitska for Parfums DelRae 2002


Post by Claire Vukcevic


Hi there APJ folk!

Have you ever built a fragrance up in your head for ages before even smelling it? I do that a lot. The town where I live sells nothing fancier that Beyonce Heat, so I am completely dependent on the Internet. So, I read. 95% of the pleasure I get from perfume is reading other people writing about it. Words set off a moving train of vivid images in my head, and if a person is a talented writer, they can bring a perfume to life for me in a way that just smelling the damn thing simply will not do.

These images and dreams of a perfume can slosh around my head for years until I actually smell it. Can you imagine the utter joy when the images I’ve filed away in my mental library actually lines up with how the perfume smells? Unfortunately, Parfums DelRae Bois de Paradis doesn’t quite live up to the movie reel in my head.

Bois de Paradise by Parfums DelRae 2002

Bois de Paradise by Michel Roudnitska


Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Citruses
Heart: French rose, blackberry, spices, fig
Base: Amber, woodsy notes, resins, incense

There is just something a little too insistent, too overwrought about Bois de Paradis. It bowls me over….then sticks in my craw. Each time I put it on, I think of the immortal lines of Hotel California – this could be heaven, or this could be hell.

The problem: In the middle of a pool of rich, luscious florals, fruits, and woods, a strident tone eventually juts out and catches my skin on its jagged edges. It’s like running your hand down a gleaming wooden banister and finding one tiny splinter. It gets in the way of what I signed up for.


What I signed up for: A luscious rose-berry syrup, heavily spiced but suspended in a golden elixir, so delicious I want to drink it. Fresh blackberries and dried currants swimming in some kind of quaint alcohol, like mead or mulled wine and draped in the same golden, autumnal haze that I associate with other rich, honeyed harvest scents such as Botrytis and 1270 by Frapin. This, right here, is my bailiwick. Mah wheelhouse.

The splinter: The syrup boils over and becomes pure resin. The woods funnel into pine sap, with a helping of mint, blackcurrant leaf, and camphor, introducing an “aftershave”-like aftertaste. These notes interfere with a creamy-dry, rosy sandalwood in the base. I want to shove aside the throat-catching resin, pine needles, and mint, and enjoy my sandalwood unfettered. It won’t allow me. (If I wanted pine needles and mint, I would wear Nuit Etoilee).

Despite the odds stacked in its favor at the start, it is not a buy for me. But I am grateful to have been given the chance to try it. DelRae stuff is almost impossible to find in Europe.


Further reading: Non Blonde and EauMG
LuckyScent has $150/50ml
Surrender to Chance has samples from $4/0.5ml

What about you guys? Have you ever built a fragrance up in your mind while reading reviews, only to have your hopes (and expectations) dashed to the ground when you actually get your nose on it?

Slán from sunny but cold Ireland,

Claire also writes for Take One Thing Off

16 thoughts on “Bois de Paradise by Michel Roudnitska for Parfums DelRae 2002

  1. Hi Claire! Love your description and feel comforted that I am not the only one who has a runaway imagination that conjures up how a perfume might smell from reading the list of notes. Trouble is, invariably my version is so much better than the real thing. That’s why I’ve got so many bottles that I don’t really like – I blind-bought them because I was sure I knew how they would smell. But they didn’t! Thankfully from time to time I am bowled over by a gem that far exceeds my expectations and it becomes my favourite. For a while. Then I read a review and the whole cycle starts all over again. Like you, I can’t test stuff locally so it is always a matter of taking a risk and gambling that the next decant, sample or full bottle will be to my liking. But then it’s fun! And better than actual gambling …..


    • Hi Jill! Yes, if only perfumers could have us each there with him or her while they’re working so we could help them match reality to the pictures in our heads. Actually, for ages I thought that “headspace technology” was when they created a perfume based not on reality but on the images in someone’s head. As it turns out, it’s actually when they analyze the molecules of the air around a plant or flower that can’t be distilled or tinctured, and then recreate the aroma using the same molecules in a lab….but I still think that my first interpretation was the more interesting one! You are spot on about that never-ending cycle of reading, dreaming, and then meeting reality…but yes, definitely better than real gambling (albeit not much less expensive) 🙂
      Cheers, Claire


  2. I know exactly what you mean. For me it’s Divine Divine EDP, which I try to love. I want it to be a version of Coty L’Aimant before L’Aimant fell under the reformulation bus. I want peach, florals, clean sunshine … not too sweet … and Divine has all of that except that the ‘splinter’ is a ashy, synthetic note. Maybe it’s the oakmoss, which I normally love. Maybe here it is out of place, at least for me.

    But perhaps the solution is to keep wearing it in order to get to know it better and to ‘smell through’ the unpleasant note?


    • Hi Annemarie! Divine is a struggle for me too – I should love it since I love big aldehydes like No. 22, but whenever I have it on, I’d rather be wearing something a little less ladylike. But I love the descriptions other give of it so I keep trying my sample. You are onto something with the possible solution of persevering and eventually “cracking” the perfume – there are tons of perfumes that I grew to love through sheer determination to see the beauty in them that everyone else did. L’Heure Bleue and Ormonde Jayne Woman are probably the two examples that just immediately to my mind. I am close, but not quite there, to understanding the widespread rapture.
      Best, Claire


  3. Hey there Claire,
    Have you ever tried Amoureuse by Parfums DelRae? Weird ass, lily and bong water, outrageous and magnificent.
    Even though it’s not for you I now really want to try Bois de Paradise.
    Things that I want to love but can’t? Nah, dunno but I have had to give all my Slumberous away (except Pear & Olive) because when I wear then to bed they give Jin nightmares.
    Portia xx


    • Hi Portia! I owned Amoueuse but swapped it away for Amaranthine, with which it shares some kind of funky, milky greenness. It’s a striking scent, that’s for sure, but for me the honey turned into this hugely pissy, cloying thing that drove me nuts, like the smell left on your skin when someone randomly licks you (and you don’t want be licked), if you know what I mean. Xxx Claire


  4. My fragrance line up is too long of designer, Niche, Arabian, Natural & Indie. Yes same reason what you stated in addition to notes, sillage and longevity of the product. Some fragrances like Gardelia by Bogue, Jar Parfums Diamond Water, perfumes from Henry Jacques are so expensive that you have to sell organs, LOL.


    • Ah those ones I am just content to read about rather than own 🙂 If something is so completely out of my reach financially, I don’t really go out of my way to smell them. The desire to own what I fall in love with is too strong!


  5. I frequently suffer from fragrance let-down. Those are the samples (and occasional blind buys) that get shoved to the back of the shelf and re-sniffed until they they’ve become familiar for themselves. Lots of times it turns out that I really like a perfume that was initially disappointing or even repulsive because my expectations were so different. I admit that the gourmands and woody scents usually don’t ever live up to the stories I have a slew of samples that smell like rotten cinnamon frosting and burnt hair or the back corner of the woodpile where the cat has piddled. They were supposed to transport me to a serene forest or an ancient Grecian temple or some such fantasy and I would never have tried them if i had read the notes.
    I’ve wondered if I should even read reviews but I’m not sure that being a disconnected perfumista would be half the fun. I love reading and words and I love a good fantasy so don’t expect I’ll turn away from the blogs and forums anytime soon. Besides, occasionally I will find a miraculous thing that I would never have touched based on the notes, like a vanilla that doesn’t send red-hot spikes through my sinuses or a tuberose that doesn’t burn my eyes, and it’s all worth it.


    • Oh this comment is pure gold, thank you! I think being a disconnected perfumista would spoil all my fun, as the back story and the images are what really make it for me. Of course, I also really doubt my own nose’s ability….I can analyse notes using published notes lists and experience with other perfumes, but in general if I experience a huge disconnect between the story and the scent, then I blame the scent for not living up to the story. But I’d love to hear more about what vanillas and tuberoses don’t make you want to take out your own organs 🙂 I have am annual compulsion towards vanilla and gourmands that I indulge (with shame) until I feel as sick as the Hungry Caterpillar and need to chew through a green leaf to cure myself.


  6. Is it possible you tried reformulation. I am not sure if it is correct or not but I think I did read about reformulation. When I tried Bois de Paradis 2 years ago, I loved it


    • Hi Fazal, my sample was from someone’s private bottle, bought about 3 years ago. It’s probably the same version you smelled, and yes, it is lovely but something about it wears on my nerves, like lemon juice in a cut. And yet I can’t deny that it’s a beautiful fragrance…when it is not being intensely irritating. But that’s just my opinion!


  7. Oh man. Bois de Paradis smells like straight-up turpentine on me. Must be a skin thing, but GAH it’s just horrible.

    For the record, Amoureuse is da bomb. I think skin chemistry really matters a lot more than Certain Published People think it does.


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