5 Classic French Perfumes

by ally redmond
chloe perfume bottle

Sophisticated, seductive, a bit mysterious and, above all, irreplaceable. These are just some of the tenets of classic French perfumes.

Having a signature scent is, simply put, an essential part of being French. A spritz is not saved for any special or fancy occasion but rather is considered a necessity each time ones leave the home. 


The French are known for being masters parfumeurs (perfumers); their creations are notoriously chic, down the vessels they are presented in. As such, there is no shortage of amazing classic French perfumes to add to your collection. Read on for five of our favorites!

Chanel n°5 by Chanel

chanel perfume bottle

An iconic bottle that can very frequently be found on the vanities of French “It” girls. In 1921, esteemed parfumeur Ernest Beaux created five perfumes for designer Coco Chanel to choose from. She ended up choosing the fifth one – hence the name. It has been argued that this classic French perfume historically created the international demand for luxury fragrances. To put this into perspective, a bottle of Chanel n°5 is sold once every 30 seconds.

Miss Dior by Dior

dior perfume bottle

Dior parfumeur François Demachy famously said that he wanted this perfumes to envelop the wearer – scents, like the high fashion brand’s gowns, would emerge “one by one, from the bottle.” Miss Dior, the brand’s first, does just this. A feminine and floral French perfume released in 1947, its hints of green chypre, bergamot, jasmine and Grasse rose made it an instant classic. To this day, it remains one of the House’s most popular offerings. 

Eau de Parfum by Chloé 

chloe perfume bottle

High fashion House Chloé debuted Eau de Parfum, back in 1975, and it has remained a favorite of chic women around the world ever since. Both a romantic and classic French perfume, Eau de Parfum is a particularly unique and powdery scent that plays with notes of rose, honey, peony and cedarwood. They say that once you smell it, it is hard to forget.

Opium by Yves Saint Laurent

opium bottle perfume

A classic French perfume by the beloved French designer, Yves Saint Laurent, who released Opium in 1977 to complement his ready-to-wear collection inspired by the Orient. Unsurprisingly, having been called after the drug of the same name, it immediately caused an international stir, which launched it into stardom. And to liken it to a drug may not be too far off… the exotic scent, which blends florals with woody notes, is warm, spicy and, overall, intoxicating.

Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel

chanel perfume bottle

No roundup of classic French perfumes would be complete without Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle. A relatively new scent – it was created in 2001 to target the brand’s younger admirers – Coco Mademoiselle is inspired by and evokes the natural floral notes of Avignon, France (the hometown of the parfumeur). Light and airy, it is easy to see why it is the go-to for the so many French (and not-French) women.

Read Next: 3 Ways Coco Chanel Changed Fashion Forever

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