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The Art of Candle Making Reaches its Apex In Paris at This Cathedral of Artesian Scents

by: Geoff Ficke

For many years I was intimately involved in the Perfume business as an international distributor, developer and producer of finished Branded fragrance items and raw materials. One of the necessities essential to achieving success in the essential oil industry is to spend considerable amounts of time in Provence, France. This hardly qualifies as hard duty.

In addition to tending to my firms requirements to source packaging and novel perfume formulary I enjoyed wonderful networking opportunities. From producers of rare specialty plants to famous “noses” I met some of the most creative talents in the luxury cosmetic world. They were always suggesting new stores and ateliers for me to visit to discover fresh, unusual, and often ancient, techniques and recipes for concocting some of the most wonderful aural experiences the world has to offer.

One of these visits led me to discover a nearly four century old purveyor of candles. These are not candles as you might envision. Tapers, votives, or glass encased, over-scented illuminations. The candles crafted by Cire Trudon are works of art.

Founded in 1643, Cire Trudon established quickly itself as the “apothecaire” to the Court of Versailles. Claude Trudon, originally a Parisian grocer, developed a wax production method utilizing the highest quality beeswax and then washing this material thru gypsum. Mr. Trudon imported the finest cotton wicks and this lead to a final candle that was the whitest, cleanest burning in Europe.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, before electrification of homes, candles were the preferred light source for use in illuminating space. Royalty and the upper class used copious volumes of candles to bring light to their palaces and lodges. A by-product of this type of lighting source is smoke and discoloration of furniture, frescoes and tapestry.
The Cire Trudon candles minimized these deficiencies and became the preferred purveyor of spatial light initially to the French, then quickly to royalty across Europe.

Napoleon Bonaparte was a great fan of Cire Trudon candles and gave them exclusively as gifts. When his son was born he received but a single present from his Emperor father: a Cire Trudon candle embellished with three solid pieces of gold sculpted as his head.

Cire Trudon avoided the calamity that befell so many candle manufacturers when electrification and the light bulb were introduced. The Company had long before become a cult favorite of the rich and famous owing mainly to its collaboration with the fragrance houses based in Grasse, Provence. The firm’ products tell stories through the wonderful, poetically conceptual scents that have been crafted over the ages by these perfumers.

The Cire Trudon range consists of 22 classic scents. Each tells a story. One of the most famous is “Solis Rex” (Sun King). The floor boards of the Palace of Versailles smell of fir bark and cedar wood. That this amazing aura is captured so magically in these candles is testament to the craft and creative genius of the perfumers of Grasse and the candle makers of Cire Trudon.

Cire Trudon also provides modern consumers proper guidance in the lost art of properly burning the ancient, simple candle. The first burn of a new candle should last about two hours in order to properly release fragrance. When extinguishing a candle use a metal wick dipper to gently push the wick into the wax. This will eliminate smoking which interferes with the scent. Two hours is the ideal time to burn a candle, not all day.

When in Paris a visit to the Cire Trudon store is to step back into time, a time when artisan craftsmanship was paramount. Cire Trudon candles are sold in fine stores around the world. However, they always seem more illuminating when experienced in their original home venue.