Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune: Right Through To The Bitter End


A small patch of blue sky was spotted for at least twenty the minutes the other day. I don’t care what anyone says, I’m calling it Spring. I am making excuses to get my Spring and Summer Scents out, if not my cooler clothes. In the world of fragrance, you’d be hard pushed to find anything more refreshing than a sharp citrus note on a hot day. And if we’re talking citrus, we have to talk about Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune.

This is a slippery customer, old Pamplelune. Wearing it on two previous occasions, it has gone sour and bad on me, like a hard shrivelled Clementine that I removed from my fruit bowl recently. Looking at reviews all over the Internet, it would seem I am not alone.  Today, I can report that Pamplelune is behaving itself, and I have not yet reached the sour rotten note, nor the famous “cat pee” so often mentioned by disappointed wearers.


When this is first applied, it is pretty much agreed that the Grapefruit top note is sharp, refreshing and unbeatable in the Citrus Category. It’s the aftermath that creates problems. Like a beauty Queen with a sleazy past, positive first impressions are soon pricked like a bubble.

Today, Pamplelune is better than it was last time I tried it for a day. Maybe this is because my skin is warmer, or maybe because the more perfumes that take me out of my comfort zone, the more my tastes are changing.  In any case, when the delightful and sparkling Grapefruit notes softened down and drifted away today, the drydown was better than I remembered.  It’s green rather than bitter, with Petitgrain and Cassia Leaf providing a fresh spicy accord,  and I detected a bit of unsweetened Vanilla smoothing out the edges. The Grapefruit is still there but instead of being juicy and tart, it’s more like a palate soothing sorbet now.


This is hit and miss, depending on your skin, the weather and what your personal perfume tastes are. There seem to be an equal number of brickbats and bouquets for Pamplelune. I have a foot in both camps. I have had the sour rind smell before now on two occasions, yet today I have a unique and grown up citrus fragrance that has made itself at home.

Pamplelune was created in 1999, and like many fourteen year olds, it’s difficult and capricious. I implore you, no matter how much you like Citrus and Grapefruit, do not buy this blind, unless it’s a very small bottle.  You can love it from afar, but until you meet, you won’t know if there’s chemistry.


3 thoughts on “Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune: Right Through To The Bitter End”

  1. Did you ever get the slight note of BO that Pampelune is notorious for?
    I love it and wear it in hot, sunny weather, but I do find myself turning round occasionally and thinking ‘phew! stinky pits! Ooops, that’s me!’ and it is, but it isn’t because I skipped the shower. Dear ol Luca Turin pointed it out and now I can’t help but notice it occasionally. It doesn’t bother me now, because I know it’s those sulphur compounds in the grapefruit, not my stinky pits. (And as you’ve probably realised by now, I don’t give a hoot what other people think of my smell.)

    I think it’s worth it for the remarkable ‘wakey wakey!’ factor in wearing Pampelune. It is a proper eye-opener in the morning – almost as good as an espresso.

  2. Whilst I didn’t get the BO twang, on previous forays I did get a sort of bland bitterness, as if I was smelling shrivelled grapefruit pith, rather than juicy citrus flesh. It kind of went sour and dead on me, like rotten oranges. However, the day I reviewed it, it put on its best bib and tucker and showed itself at its absolute best.

    It stayed fresh and zingy and lasted for about nine hours. it was fabulous. it must have known we were going to be talking about it!

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