My First Autumn In Paris, writes Perfumer Rajiv Sheth

In about only a month or so after arriving in Paris for my first year at the ISIPCA perfumery school (a long time ago!), it was autumn in Europe. Of course we don’t have autumns in Bombay, where I was born and lived until I left for France, so it was a beautiful experience for me to live my life’s first entire autumn season in this city. 

Due to school schedule, we had travelled outside India either in summer break or very rarely during winter break. So, the two most beautiful seasons, spring and autumn I witnessed, only after moving to Paris. 

ISIPCA, is located in Versailles. I was living in Paris, in the 8th district. The gare Saint Lazare was a walking distance from home. So every morning, I used to walk down to the station and take the SNCF train to Versailles rive droite, I think the morning 8:13 am train. It would reach Versailles Rive droite terminus at 8:49 am and then it was a 10 mins walk to the school. 

This walk was an extremely pretty one, especially during autumn. The cold nip in the air was such a relief from the hot humid climate back home. There was complete silence, only the crackling noise of the leaves I walked upon. Watching the leaves fall, floating down the trees, rustling when I walked over them, almost wanted to jump over them like a child to listen to the cracking sound it made again and again! It was so picturesque, the leaves having different shades of yellow, red, brown and orange. In my mind, I associate the smell of autumn with the fragrance of patchouli; earthy, warm, slightly green, woody, rustic & moss like undernotes. Visually I can imagine the fermented tobacco leaves mixed with the colorful leaves of the autumn season. 

I recall it had made a great impression on me. It was like nature’s re-birth. A yearly spectacle, beginning in autumn and ending in spring. 

In this photo, I am sitting on the Champs de Mars, a few steps away from the Eiffel Tower and enjoying every bit of this scenery. The coat I am wearing was given to me by my grandfather. It was his winter coat which kept me really warm during autumn and winter. During his several travels and stays in winter back then, he was so wise in investing in a very good long coat, very light to wear but extremely efficient in keeping me warm. I still own this winter coat of my grandfather, as a treasure now! 

Since then I have lived several autumn seasons in Paris and I truly miss them now being back in India. When I miss it most, I dip a smelling strip in a good patchouli oil and close my eyes giving way for my olfactory memory to trigger the right emotions and imagination to take me back on that walk from the train station to the perfumery school.