“Ca se sent que c’est toi” – line from “Ca, c’est vraiment toi” by Telephone, a very popular French rock group in the 80’s. This song has been played at almost every French wedding since 1982. Rough translation: “That is just like you” or could be loosely interpreted as “That smells just like you”
One thing everyone knows about the French is that they are masters of perfume. Most of the big names: Chanel, Lancôme, Christian Dior, Lanvin, Ralph Lauren, Givenchy, Guerlin, Kenzo to name a few are French and most of the rest are at least in part owned by a French holding company (LVMH, Loréal, Elf Aquitaine, etc). So why is it that so many folks have such bad b.o. sometimes? There is no rational explanation that I can determine. And also, I am still looking for the etiquette to correctly say to someone, “Excuse me but this elevator is too small for both me and your armpit smell, can you please take a shower before getting on next time?” The French (and everyone else for that matter) are full of contradictions. Some like this olfactory one are curious and inexplicable and you just never quite get used to them.
Just to further prove my point, my most wonderful olfactory experiences come from living here as well. Whether it was a visit in a perfume factory in Grasse or walking in the Luberon hills among lavender, thyme and rosemary bushes…but my absolute favorite has got to be the Provençal market in Antibes. When you walk in the hall, you are hit almost immediately by such overwhelming smells that you are tempted to drop everything in your life and pledge your life and eternal soul to…OK, anyway, so it does smell incredible and I think that it is the most delicious, exciting and unique combination of odors that I have ever experienced. One irony here is that the French typically think the US is the land of extremes. I think that I can find some arguments, like this particular article to prove that France too has its olfactory extremes to take this example 🙂