L’Artisan Parfumeur : La Traversée du Bosphore

Created by : Bertrand Duchaufour 

Date : 2010

Genre : Gourmand amber

Concentration : eau de toilette

The Bosphorus Strait is a natural boundary between Europe and Asia separating the West from the East, modernity from antiquity.  When I tested La Traversée du Bosphore it felt like a trip from chic, cerebral Paris to earthy, mystical Istanbul, which is why Denyse Beaulieu’s reference to the Orient Express in her perfume review is perfect.  In this fragrance, Paris is represented by France’s national flower, the fleur de Lys (or iris) while Istanbul is represented by a sweet, incense-rich amber.  How Bertrand Duchaufour pulls it off is simply a stroke of genius because I’ve never seen a perfume move so much.  LTdB goes from a frigid iris-leather accord to a warm, sultry amber in a matter of a few hours.  This shift may not be for everyone… it’s a bit Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde… but I found it intriguing and fun.

If Sophia Grojsman is the Queen of Roses, Bertrand Duchaufour is the King of Cold.  It’s not that Mr. Duchaufour doesn’t do other things, it’s that when he does cold notes, he can’t be beat.  The opening of La Traversée du Bosphore is as cold as it gets with one of the greyest, most frigid iris notes I have ever smelled… it almost gave me shivers.  Although I got a couple of fleeting whiffs of Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens, which always smelled way too vegetable for me, LTdB’s iris is luxurious and intense.  It’s not quite Chanel’s Cuir de Russie… nothing is.  But it’s still beautiful.  As well, there are some wood and leather notes in there… prompting my friend Ricky when presented with the scent strip to say, “It’s complex”.  That, it is.

The sales associate at the L’Artisan Parfumeur counter talked about many other notes, including apples, roses, pistachio and tobacco but, in truth, I didn’t get much of those notes in the top, middle or basenotes.  I just got this beautiful iris-leather opener which morphed into a candied amber about 3 hours into the test.  The gear change between the two main accords was intriguing.  It’s not unlike a sunset when the sunlit pink clouds are offset by a steely blue sky. 

La Traversée du Bosphore’s quality, sweet amber drydown seems to last forever and you have to wonder if this is the same perfume you started out the day with.  Once you’re there, you realize just how far you’ve travelled.  LTdB is a great example of top-down construction… starting in one place and taking to a completely different place.

Classifying this one is a puzzle but I’ll go with Michael Edwards’ strategy of basing his classification on the drydown.  So… it’s a gourmand amber.

Graphically, La Traversée du Bosphore  reminds me of the above Mark Rothko painting with its cool blue top and warm amber base.  Both painting and perfume are spectacular.

If this perfume doesn’t transport you, nothing less than a time machine will.


Top image : Untitled by Mark Rothko (1903-1970)

Leave a comment


  1. Dane

     /  November 6, 2010

    Meh. Capital M-E-H.

    Nice topnote tho.

    • That topnote is incredible! The iris gave me the impression of quality orris butter. I’ll agree with you that there are more beautiful amber drydowns but I thought the transition was impressive.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed TdB and hope to get a FB for Christmas. Thanks for a lovely review.



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