Monday, March 05, 2007

Smelling Cologne

How do you describe the scent of a city?

Recently a regular reader (you know who you are) left a comment here, the subject escapes me at the moment, but it started me thinking about something I’ve been noodling over ever since: Does this city have an identifiable scent?

I live in Cologne - also know as Köln, Koeln, Colonia – I’ve seen it written and spelled a number of different ways. It seems the word “cologne” entered the public vernacular a century or so ago as a generic term defining a lightly scented liquid, not as concentrated as perfume. The original Eau de Cologne, or Cologne water, was invented by Jean-Marie Farina and produced here in Cologne in the 18th century and was a favorite scent of the Emperor Napoleon among many others. One can still buy a fairly direct descendant of the original from the French firm Roger & Gallet under the name Jean-Marie Farina scent.

So much for the word “cologne” and how this ancient city’s name has become associated with the world of fragrance, now on to the question of just how the city smells.

Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be making notes of locations and their smells around town and will attempt to come up with an overall description of the aroma of modern Cologne.

Consider this a work in progress…

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Thanks! How frustrating it is to do a search on Colognes...your city always pops up to confuse matters.

1:16 AM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

Anon ... And the reverse is also true.

Star ... Thanks for the info.

8:08 AM  
Blogger vailian said...

Funny, I have lived here all this time and don't really associate it with any particular smell (unlike, say, London or Paris). Until they did the renovations in front of the train station, there was always a little hut near the main entrance that sold "Reivvekoche", a kind of deepfried potato pancake, now that was a distinctive smell!
It is not smelly, but next time you are near the Dom, check out my "Ode de Cologne" poster at the souvenir shops...

10:48 AM  
Blogger christina said...

Interesting. I think if I had to describe what Hannover smells like it would be exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke. :-(

I wasn't aware of the story of Jean-Marie Farina - the eau de cologne I'm most familiar with in regards to Cologne is 4711 - Echt Kölnisch Wasser which is made by another company but seems to have some historical connection. My grandmother was from Cologne and she used to douse herself with 4711.

1:18 PM  

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