During my trip to Paris in 2014, I popped into an opulent little shop on the Rue de Seine named Cire Trudon. Dark and moody, this little boutique’s walls were covered in rich black and gold wallpaper and displays made of black, lacquered wood. I stared in awe as the sales associate greeted me in the typical “laissez-faire” French attitude.
I walked over to a table displaying several Cire Trudon candles covered in clochettes and thought to myself “I don’t care how much these candles cost, I’m not walking out of here without one.” I picked up the clochette containing the Ottoman candle and swooned as I inhaled its seriously intoxicating scent. To my amateur nose, it brought me back to being a little kid dragged to church by my mom each Sunday. As much as I hated that, I did love the comforting scents of incense, wood and old books.
I went weak in the knees inhaling Ottoman’s heady aromas of clove, cinnamon and Turkish rose, with base notes of tobacco, leather and patchouli. It was right up my alley. What wasn’t right up my alley was the insane price – the other thing that literally made me weak in the knees, as I clutched the candle table as the sales associate informed me that the candle cost €80. Eighty euros. EIGHTY FREAKING EUROS. That translates today to $123.33 CAD. I couldn’t do it. I composed myself and headed back to the café where my husband waited for me with a huge look of relief on his face that I wasn’t carrying an additional shopping bag.
So, why would these candles cost the same as a week’s worth of groceries? Let’s look into that.
Claude Trudon acquired his boutique on rue St. Honoré in 1643, 373 years ago. Back then, it was a grocer and candle store. During the reign of Louis XIV, his candle manufacturing company took off creating him a fortune. Mr. Trudon used a labor-intensive technique to create his candles, harvesting beeswax from hives, then washing, filtering and exposing it to sunlight to create the whitest, purest wax possible. His candles were used to light cathedrals and such beautiful places as Versailles, and their use continued through the French Revolution. Cire Trudon candles were also used to illuminate the Imperial Court during Napoleon’s Coronation in 1804.
Cire Trudon was so revered, that the company survived the arrival of electricity and was awarded with a gold medal at France’s World Fair in 1889.
Up to present day, these candles are still dripped and made by hand, and the company employs perfumers to make each of its patented fragrances. I guess it’s safe to say they’ve earned their price.
Other candlemakers such as Diptyque may not boast such impressive histories, but still command high prices. What makes someone pay upwards of $100 for a simple candle? I assume the same thing that drives people to spend $2000 on a handbag, $1000 on shoes or $500 for a simple sterling silver Tiffany & Co. pinky ring: status.
I got sucked into the pricey candle phenomenon with my little obsession with Diptyque. I like to think it’s their original, intoxicating fragrances such as Feu de bois (my favourite) or Patchouli, a close runner up. I am not a fan of sugary sweet scents by the likes of Bath & Body Works (B&BW) or Yankee Candle Company but I much prefer their pricing. I have noticed that B&BW has started offering more sophisticated choices such as Fireside (which I bought two of). Maybe my dreams will be realized one day and Diptyque will have a Buy 3, Get 3 Free sale one day. Hey – you never know…
Will I stop lusting after an $80 candle that works the same as a $4 option from Pier One? No. I just can’t help myself! These pricey options smell just too wonderful and you only live once, right? YOLO!!!
Are any of you obsessed with Diptyque, Cire Trudon or any other fancy candles? What are your favourites? I’m currently eyeing Ladurée’s Lavender Candle, but I’m thinking that the $72 cost is better spent on something I really need, like a trip to Shoppers Anonymous.