May 1st in France is called La Fête du Muguet and every year rain or shine, we celebrate le 1er Mai with some Muguet des Bois or Lily of the Valley. It’s a wonderful day that rhymes with happiness, hope, renewal, and good fortune. It is still very popular in weddings ever since Princess Grace of Monaco chose this flower for her bridal bouquet and should you find a sprig that contains 13 flowers it is also considered a token of luck. You can read more about The French Tradition of La Fête du Muguet on May 1st or Labor Day in a previous post but today I’d also like to celebrate the flower and its intoxicating fragrance.
Under some moist shady grounds preferably in the forest is most likely where Muguet des Bois or Lily of the Valley also known as May Bells (convallaria majlis) grows. It is a woodland flowering plant with bell-shaped little flowers. It grows well in moist areas like woods in Asia and Europe. It has a short flowering season and blooms from April to June. Although, beautiful and sweet-smelling this flower is quite toxic and deadly to domestic animals and humans when consumed.
Granted its exquisite and intoxicating long-lasting fragrance, Lily of the Valley is widely used in beauty care such as luxury soaps, perfumes, body and hand lotions, candles as well as perfumes. However, since the essential oils of Lilly of the Valley are very difficult to extract most French perfumes have to, unfortunately, resort to using a synthetic version.
Utopic and iconic, one of the most well-known perfumes from the House of Dior celebrates Lily of the Valley with its classic Diorissimo introduced in 1956 by Christian Dior and then relaunched in 2009 because it was so popular. As bright as a crisp spring morning, this romantic floral bouquet blossoms with the freshness of lily-of-the-valley, which was Christian Dior’s lucky flower and the emblem of Dior Couture, it was created by François Demachy, Dior Perfumer-Creator. Diorissimo’s top notes include lily-of-the-valley and ylang-ylang, the heart is composed of amaryllis and boronia, leaving a delicate jasmine trail.
Enter another exquisite fragrance selection: Lily of the Valley by Penhaligon, a floral green fragrance for women manufactured in the UK and launched in 1976. The nose behind this fragrance is Michael Pick hall. With top notes of bergamot, Amalfi lemon, and geranium; middle notes are lily-of-the-valley, rose, ylang-ylang, and jasmine; and base notes of sandalwood and oakmoss it leaves an unforgettable feeling.
There are other perfumes containing Lily of the Valley include Muguet Millésime 2021 by Guerlain, L’Eau d’Issey pour Homme, Muguet en Fleur by Yves Rocher among others.
“May this Lily of the Valley sprig bring you much happiness! Que cette brindille de muguet des bois vous apporte du bonheur! “Tweet
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