What Took You So Long? – Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune Perfume Review

Pamplelune – Guerlain’s ode to grapefruit

Have you ever discovered a perfume that you’ve known about for years but never tried? I have. I cannot tell you how many times I have perused the offerings of many a Guerlain counter, spritzing on and sampling almost everything they have to scent me with, but I always seemed to overlook, nay ignore the Aqua Allegoria line, meaning that up until very recently I had never tried Pamplelune. Now I can’t help but think; “what took you so long Thomas?!”

It was Persolaise’s review of the latest Aqua Allegoria; Lys Soleia, that led me to seeking out the Aqua Allegoria line, and I’m very glad that I did. My interest in the line, and Pamplelune specifically, was further piqued by Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels who had written that she was a big fan of Pamplelune but other people’s reactions prevented her from wearing it. Well after that I simply had to try it, and try it I did.

Pamplelune was part of the original crop of Aqua Allegoria’s released in 1999, a collection inspired by nature and intended to be more accessible to the younger Guerlain consumer. Available in a lighter concentration (EDT) and at a lower price point than the regular Guerlains, the Aqua Allegoria’s still manage to showcase fantastic ingredients, both natural and synthetic, to create perfumes that feel like non-ephemeral interpretations of nature for the skin.

Having stood the test of time, where other Aqua Allegoria’s have come and gone, Pamplelune was created to capture “the spirit of grapefruit” and that’s what it does. Now I should probably say that my opinion of grapefruit as a fruit is the same as my opinion of watermelon (see my review of Ruth Mastenbroek’s Amorosa), that is that I think It’s naff. It tastes so awful I don’t know why anyone would eat it, other than as a form of self-torture and on top of that grapefruit notes in modern perfumes are usually dire. Oh wait, now I know why it took me so long to try Pamplelune…

Don’t be fooled by the colourful interior of the grapefruit, it is a wholly evil fruit…

The Notes

Top: Acidulous Grapefruit
Heart: Flowers from Provence and Grapefruit
Base: Delicious Grapefruit, Patchouli and Vanilla

How Does it Smell?

“At dawn, shutters spring open
The sun rises and grows warm
View of a citrus orchard.”

One sniff of Pampelune and all my grapefruit-based fears are blown away. Pamplelune is the smell of a freshly squeezed grapefruit in all of its tart, bitter and sweet glory. There is nothing dire or synthetic-smelling about it, quite the contrary, the grapefruit in Pamplelune’s opening is full, brightly coloured, dripping in dew and heavily sulphurous. It is as close to the real thing as one can get.

The grapefruit is ever-present throughout Pamplelune’s development and is juxtaposed against a strong, earthy patchouli note that gives it a sparkling, effervescent quality as well as a touch of dirt and camphor. It takes complexity to make this kind of simplicity and the inner workings of Pamplelune, the small shifts from grapefruit to patchouli like the intricate workings of a clock, tick along so smoothly one hardly notices the changes.

Rich, green and pollen-stained white flowers occupy Pamplelune’s heart and lead one to think of the garden in which these beautiful grapefruits are growing. The base is an even richer affair, laying the grapefruit, flowers and patchouli over a bed of vanilla-scented earth that is dusky, sweet and glorious in absolutely every way, shape and form.

Sometimes the simplest smelling scents are the best and Pamplelune really is quite something. It certainly is enough to lead me to rethink my opinion of grapefruit, well the smell at least, you’ll never catch me actually eating one, I’m not a sadist. I can really see it being my go-to citrus scent this summer when the muggy weather really hits. It will refresh me and I will love it.


Pamplelune is available in 75ml and 125ml Eau de Toilette with prices starting at £33.


Notes vía basenotes.net. All qoutes via guerlain.com. Image 1 thescentsofself.com. Image 2 cagrapefruitforhealth.com.