The Scent of Linden Trees on Avenue Mozart {Scented Thoughts}



I kept meaning to go back to take a picture of the linden trees on Avenue Mozart for illustration, but never found the opportunity, although it shouldn't have been challenging. Finally, I decided to use for illustrating purposes a postcard of the Worth couture workshop I bought on that same avenue, which reminded me of the period the perfume I smelled evoked.

Let's rewind to a couple of weeks past, shall we, when it was still spring. For some reason, I tend to write those olfactory posts more during springtime.

If I had forgotten that it this is the season for linden trees to bloom, they did not let me forget that fact. The other day, walking down Avenue Mozart in Paris was a novel experience as I distinctly smelled in the air the smell of horse stables and manure....

For a brief instant, I wondered where the live animalistic smell was coming from but before I had the time to fully imagine a circus having planted its tent nearby - the Bouglione sometimes does just that - my head turned up skyward following the trail. I realized then that the scent was coming from or rather descending from the linden trees that are lining down the avenue. That those unconspicuous, regularly planted "street trees" which appeared to be mere urban furniture were actually tall lindren trees was the first time I unearthed that fact.

The initial word that came to my mind was "horsey" to describe the vivid impression of having entered an universe of ripe equine smells. The linden trees of Avenue Mozart smell "horsey" on a spring day in Paris. It is usually a fairly quiet, well-mannered avenue - with a few rougher, greasier spots - but never so raw as that smell.

I love the fragrance of linden flowers. I even wrote a post about it in the past. It was dedicated to a group of linden trees living in Cambridge, MA. It seems I could go on writing posts about linden trees all around the world. But in that spot of New England, they never struck me with their near-offensive stable-like smell. Going back however, I do see that I mentioned the sensation of smelling hooting monkeys. Still, here in Paris, it is much more of a 3-D, characteristic smell of equine excretions. The racecourses of Longchamp and Auteuil are not far either.

On this particular stretch of street in Paris, the linden trees seem to have benefited from the wider palette of fermented aromas that the French are famous for appreciating in their plates. Would their taste buds be receptive in that manner if it were not for the natural scents of their environment, the fact that their flowers were selected, refined for their pungency and carnality - like the deeply sensual and fecal jasmine from Grasse. Is it something in the soil? You can start imagining what several centuries of human history does to a soil filled with other things than vegetal matter. I mused about it when smelling Jo Malone English Pear and Freesia.


Coupled with the blonde hay-like nuance of linden flowers, the illusion of putting your head in a manger was fleeting, but uncanny.

Then, of course, my thoughts went to Marcel Proust who used to live nearby. Going back to a previous post where I translated a passage of his, I bump into a sentence where he mentions the scent of linden trees, he was smelling not far from avenue Mozart.

It was a wonderful, purely olfactory impression of being in a street still resounding with the noise of horse carriages, drowning the contemporary noises of the cars driving by. More of that please. Unfortunately, on the next days, the ripe smells had started to fade and wane. You really have to be there when they reach their apex. I should have noted down the time. It was around the 14th of June.


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