Douce Amère: Saudade da Infância*

Douce Amère is a strange one. I am not sure I like it but I love wearing it. Another one of those scents where what I smell has nothing to do with what most people will tell you it does. It opens with a thick, sweet exotic flower burst (it actually reminds me of datura) but from early on bitter notes are playing hide and seek with the flowers. As it settles on the skin everything becomes, stickier, creamier, less floral. The unforgettable smell of sweetened condensed milk becomes the centre of the attention but right there, in the end of of the sweet milk trail awaits one of the most cryptic, nostalgic, ironic notes I have ever smelt in fragrance: a rubber teat, a pacifier. I am sure I don’t recall this smell from the time I was using one but I remember being disgusted by it when I was watching my younger cousins grow up. The overly sensitive smell of the five-year-old that I was could not believe that they were sticking that thing in a baby’s mouth and expected to eat from this. And I remember my parents telling me that I was a cry-baby and wouldn’t go to sleep without my pacifier and I just couldn’t believe it! So annoying was that smell to me.

Now after all these years rediscovering the combination of sweet milk and rubber strikes strange chords. Douce Amère is way too sweet for my tastes but every time I wear it I get this nostalgic feeling of sheltered childhood. Soft clouds of fuzzy cotton wrap around me, I feel the warm sensation of snoozing in a dimly lit room knowing that someone is watching over me. I am not sure where these feelings come from but it almost feels like they are popping out the depths of my subconscious, right from the time I was actually using that bottle full of milk. The word “nostalgia”cannot describe exactly how I feel. The portuguese word “saudade” is the only word that explains this.  A strong feeling of missing something that is part of you, is now missing and possibly can never be found again, filling you with a restrained sadness that will always be a part of you.

*Childhood Nostalgia

Notes from Parfumo: Absinth, Aniseed, Jasmine, Lily, Musk, Tiarella, Marigold, Tiaré, Cedar, Cinnamon

Notes from my nose: datura, sweetened condensed milk, rubber teat, vanilla

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.


  1. It really sounds like one strange & funny perfume.

    • Most people talk about cinnamon, anise and flowers… I get no spices at all…

      • I’m intrigued. I didn’t try it. I’ll check if I have it in my SL solids collection. If I like it in solid form I might order a sample

        • I think Douce Amère has only recently been added to the Exclusive line and actually export bottles available officially must be the last stock. But this means that you can email Les Salons du Palais Royal and they will send you a wax sample for free

          • I got my set of wax samples from SL two days ago but I just checked and it’s not here in my set.

            • Maybe they haven’t prepared the wax samples for this yet. By the way, with these you will only get the basenotes so they will all smell sweeter and duller than they actually are. Any favourites yet?

              • Christos, I noticed. And those solids are quite short lived. I find Serge Lutens more educating than wearable but I love Fleurs de Citronnier and Un Bois Vanille which I have in spray samples. Still got plenty solids to try and see if something clicks.

  2. Sampled a lot of the Serge Lutens line, but never this one! How prominent is the Absinthe note?

    • I am not 100% certain of my ability to identify absinthe. I have sampled Fou d’Asinthe and a couple of others representative of this note but I cannot boast that I “own” it. I recognize a milkiness that I get from absinthe.

  3. smellythoughts

    What a great write up! I haven’t tried this one either – love the fact your review doesn’t fit the listed notes AT ALL haha. Will hunt this one out, I think the absynthe has never appealed to me although I do enjoy it as a note, I don’t think I needed to try Serge’s take on it, it’s just like you said, I imagined it sickly sweet and syrupy.

  4. What a wonderful review! I smiled as I read it.

    I’ll have to try this perfume: Jo Malone’s Sweet Milk reminds me of condenced milk and I like it a lot (some nostalgic feelings as well though from significantly after-pacifier periods of my life).

  5. I tried Douce Amere so long ago that I really have no memory of it, but gosh, I loved reading your post. I know just that feeling you are talking about — “saudade” — though I never had a name for it before.

    Splendid writing, Christos. Reminds me of how when I was a little, I sucked my finger until there were tooth marks in it and my mother, worried that I would go to kindergarten with this habit and be made fun of, put tabasco sauce on my finger until I stopped. It was so hot I’m surprised my finger didn’t fall off, but apparently it didn’t take long to cure me. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Laughs, Lemmings, Loves – Episode 22 « Undina's Looking Glass

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