I love Granville; I do, I do. This is one of Dior’s recent La Collection fragrances, and is inspired by Christian Dior’s love of the coastal town of Granville, in Normandy, where he grew up.
Granville has attracted few reviews and Octavian at 1000 Fragrances is so far the only reviewer to have praised it unreservedly. There are also a few short (unfavourable) mentions at Peredepierre and Perfume-Smellin’ Things. Perfumer Francois Demachy says the fragrance is like the wind that blows through Granville, and
the waves that are constantly breaking against the rocks … Nature, in Granville, is anything but serene.
The idea is to capture this spirit of the north, with its wind and waves, rocks and forests. Octavian finds the fragrance cold, aromatic and bitter.
I don’t, quite. It begins with a citrusy burst, like Eau Sauvage but colder. That passes quickly in favour of herbal notes based on pine and thyme (more thyme than pine), but also a strange but slightly comforting medicinal scent that reminds me oddly of L’Heure Bleue, only much drier and more masculine. That must be the camphorous notes that Octavian notices, and to me they last the whole fragrance, joined lastly by a resiny, woodsy base.
I find Granville less bleak and sour than other people seem to. The Dior family house itself, called “Villa Les Rhumbs” (now a museum), is stuccoed in a delicate shade of pink, and is surrounded by a flower garden of Dior’s mother’s design. Dior apparently loved his childhood home and claimed it had a lasting influence on him.
The Chanel equivalent of Granville is Bel Respiro, named after one of Chanel’s country houses. But whereas Bel Respiro is to me as cold as charity, I sense a warm heart in Granville. Even with rain and a harsh salty wind whipping the pine forests outside, once the door is closed at Les Rhumbs there are crackling fires, a smile of welcome, a quick kiss for a grazed knee, and cakes for tea.
Granville can be applied lavishly and I can see myself wearing it often, especially to work. After the citrus-y opening it slips into the sort of a quiet background hum that I love. Not dull, but unobtrusive and elegant. It is not especially long-lasting but clings to clothes beautifully.
Granville and the other La Collection fragrances come only in those ridiculous Brobdingnagian bottles: 250 mls and – can you believe it? – 450 mls. One of those is never going to grace my dressing table but large decants are available online at good prices and I am going to have to get one soon because my sample is disappearing fast.