Create Your Own Perfume in French St. Martin!

Fragrance is like magic, a whiff of mystery that stays with you forever.  ~Anonymous

There are many reasons people wear perfume. For some, it’s something setting them apart as individuals. For others, applying scent is an automatic part of their morning routine. Fragrance can also alter moods and evoke pleasant memories.

The Island Scents of Beautiful French St. Martin.

On my recent trip to Saint Martin, I discovered a unique activity that left me spellbound. I wasn’t in the world’s perfume capital, but I could create my own custom fragrance right here on a French Caribbean Island.

C’est fantastique!

The Tijon Parfumerie has taken the best practices of the perfumeries of Grasse, France, and added a tropical twist.

John Berglund, owner, perfumer and, chemist, Tijon Parfumerie with a fellow perfumer

“The fragrances had to be true to the French perfume tradition while capturing the essence of the island,” said John Berglund, owner, in-house perfumer, and chemist.

The Tijon Perfume Experience teaches the art of perfume-making. We learned about the sense of smell and the science of creating a fragrance. The fragrances evoke the island’s natural beauty and are blended in the on-site laboratory.

Together with two other travel writers invited to St. Martin to experience the island’s magic, I was ready to create my own signature perfume.

The performer’s organ
A Sweet-Smelling Adventure

Perfume has had a glorious and sweet-smelling past going back to the dawn of recorded history. Mimi, our trained Perfumologist, taught us about the history of scents and how fragrances are created.

We got our first lesson in essential oils in front of the perfumer’s organ. With more than 300 scents, it lends structure, order, and organization to the creative process.

Perfumes have layers of scent with top, middle, and bottom notes. Fragrance notes are combinations giving perfume its character, and blended notes are called accords.

We learned there are four primary fragrance families: Woody, floral, oriental, and fresh. While all the notes in any fragrance work in tandem to create the desired scent, the base notes are the most important. The top notes are the lightest and, thus, the first to evaporate.

Creating my personalized scent
The Immersive Experience

Mimi explained our overall objective and how to get started formulating our scent. We moved to the laboratory to make eau de cologne, which has fewer fragrance oils and more water and alcohol.

Donning white lab coats, we moved to our workstations. In front of us were three beakers, a container of disposable droppers, and water. We created three scents, ultimately choosing our favorite.

We first added our base note formula mixture into each of the three beakers.                                                                                               

We then added drops of three additional oils from the perfume organ to each beaker. Narrowing down choices is tough when there are so many scent options. Mimi encouraged us to try things out of our normal scope of aromas and not be afraid to experiment. A small bowl of coffee beans to sniff when we needed to clear our noses of previous scents helped.                              

Mimi’s best advice?

“Don’t think too hard about all the choices,” she said. “Just give them a sniff and choose the scents that speak to you. The final blended elixir will be completely original.”

Eau de Saint Martin
Memory in a Bottle

By the end of the session, we’d created three fragrances and had an opportunity to try each on our skin. All were slightly different, each with its own character.

I chose my mine: A fresh, unisex scent that lingers in the air long after I’ve left the room.

It has notes of beach, cashmere woods, amber,    

musk, and vanilla. I have a copy of my custom formula on file with Tijon should I want to reorder in the future. Voila!

The most challenging part was naming my aromatic scent. I went with simple —Eau de Saint Martin — evoking island breezes, turquoise water, and blue skies: A memory of Saint Martin in a bottle.

If you go:

Learn more about Tijon Perfumery at

Find hotels and other St. Martin activities at

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