Vintage L’Heure Bleue was my first Guerlain love. In fact, until I tried a really old bottle of vintage Shalimar extrait, no other Guerlain came close. There was just something about L’Heure Bleue for me, something that touched me deeply in ways I can’t always explain. Part of it is that I first encountered the fragrance during a happy time in my life, but mental associations are not the only reason. To me, L’Heure Bleue simply feels special. The way the notes are juxtaposed sometimes feels intellectually introspective in a way that almost rises to the cerebral, and that fascinates me, but at the same time, the fragrance always triggered an even stronger emotional response as well, filling me with joy, comfort, and a sense of serenity in a way that other legendary Guerlains did not at the time.
To me, and at its core, vintage L’Heure Bleue is a fragrance that is all about polarities and paradoxes, intentionally juxtaposed contradictions, light and dark, masculinity and femininity, delicate demureness and bold opulence. In the 1980s non-extrait versions that I had originally known and fallen for, its beauty was quieter, more thoughtful, and more tender than its intensely glamorous, sophisticated, sensual, and divaesque sisters, Shalimar and Mitsouko, sometimes even a little ungainly in comparison, and she also wasn’t quite so monumentally complex or technically brilliant as they were. I’ve always felt that L’Heure Bleue was not only overshadowed in the popular discussion by her siblings, but sometimes seemed to be overlooked entirely when people talked about their favourite Guerlains. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always been oddly protective of it. I had the sense — rightly or wrongly — that L’Heure Bleue was akin to the more demure, shy, bookish middle sister, “Jan Brady,” to use an American metaphor, saying “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” about her wildly popular, beautiful, intensely charismatic sisters.
What I never knew until recently what just how bold, confidently assertive, powerful, glamourous, and sensual L’Heure Bleue was in her own right, back in the old days. When I obtained a really old bottle of the extrait, I was flabbergasted to find that she wasn’t a demure wallflower, her beauty hiding under a delicate, fluffy, powdery, ultra-feminine facade. It was front and center. In fact, she was strikingly exuberant, intense, charismatic, and even a little masculine at times. There was no demureness, no need to dig below the surface to unfurl her layers of beauty.
Just as astonishing for me was the fact that, for much of the fragrance’s early life on my skin, there was very little of the “powdered marshmallow” character that has become so synonymous with the scent in the modern era. To the contrary, it wafted Shalimaresque traits at first sniff in a way that left me completely pole-axed. In short, it was an entirely new L’Heure Bleue than the 1980s EDT and PDTs that I had known, and it made me realise that I had actually never known L’Heure Bleue at all.
I suspect I am not alone in this, so, today, I would like to introduce some of you to a very different L’Heure Bleue, one that is a dark, musky, balsamic, heavily indolic, sensuous, smoky, and powerfully leathery floral oriental, rather a feminine floral powder puff and marshmallow. I’ll focus on two vintage, Marly boxed parfums, one which is circa 1967 given its base sticker and the darkness of its juice, and one that I suspect is from the 1970s because of its lighter coloured liquid. I’ll contrast the bouquet and character of those two versions with that of two eau de parfums that I have from the early 2000s. Their batch codes indicate 2003 and 2004, so they’re right before IFRA began to roll out its very first suggested restrictions in 2005/06 and one might argue that they’re “vintage” as a result. I’ll also briefly cover a 2011 modern version EDP that shows the impact of the IFRA/EU rules. Throughout the post, I’ll reference the 1980s EDT and PdT versions that I used to wear, to compare and contrast their scent, but they will only be general observations since I no longer have bottles from those eras to provide you a detailed olfactory breakdown of their scent. At the end of the post, I’ll briefly go over the ways you can to figure out the rough age of any bottles that you may find on eBay, but, once again, I have to emphasize that the technical issue of dating bottles is not my area of expertise, so I’ll point you to the experts for additional details and the specifics. In the final section, I’ll provide links to vintage L’Heure Bleue bottles on eBay and Etsy should you wish to buy a bottle for yourself.
L’HEURE BLEUE BASICS — ITS BACKGROUND, INSPIRATION, CHARACTER & NOTES:
L’Heure Bleue was created by Jacques Guerlain and released in 1912. My friend, the Guerlain expert and blogger, Monsieur Guerlain, has a wonderful article on the fragrance’s background and development that I recommend reading. It explains how L’Heure Bleue was influenced by Coty‘s earlier L’Origan and by Jacques Guerlain’s own 1902 Après L’Ondée, as well as the details of how the perfumer experimented with then-cutting-edge synthetics to create an olfactory equivalent of an impressionist painting. Those weren’t the only inspirations. Monsieur Guerlain writes:
The name L’Heure Bleue (meaning “the blue hour”) was a reference to the special hour at dusk on hushed, cloudless summer evenings when the light seems warmly blue and soft, the noise of the world is muted, and the smell of flowers reaches its peak. […][¶] According to the Guerlain annals, Jacques Guerlain wanted to capture the entrancing Parisian ambiance he found during his evening walks along the Seine. […] Composed two years before the outbreak of World War I, L’Heure Bleue also evokes the sweetness of a romantic prewar Paris, before darkness descended upon the city.
Monsieur Guerlain sums up L’Heure Bleue as a “magnificent marshmallow,” a description that always makes me laugh, but he’s absolutely right that the fragrance bears that aspect, and it’s particularly pronounced in newer and lighter versions. It stems from a fundamental central chord of heliotrope doused with green anise, vanilla, tonka, and iris/orris. Heliotrope can smell like powdery flowers, but its scent is even more like that of meringues, marshmallows, and spicy vanillic sweetness. At times, it can smell like almonds which, when combined with its vanillic sweetness, can create an aroma that frequently reminds me of almond-based marzipan. Once in a while, depending on the heliotrope’s quantity in proportion to the other notes in a fragrance, it can also smell exactly like Play-Doh, that powdery, almondy putty toy used by children.
I adore heliotrope, which is one reason why I’ve always loved L’Heure Bleue, but I know a number of readers, particularly men, who despise Play-Doh aromas in a fragrance and are also not keen on meringue-like sweetness or powderiness in general. If that is you, I’m telling you bluntly here and now that you are unlikely to enjoy L’Heure Bleue except (perhaps) in its very oldest, parfum form. Perhaps. You should certainly stay away from any non-extrait concentration from the 1980s onwards because there is little likelihood that the fragrance’s character, olfactory profile, and intense femininity would suit your personal tastes. The heliotrope is really front and center in all its various facets from the 1980s onwards in the EDT and EDP versions. On top of all that, there is a distinct suggestion of makeup powder in the non-extraits from those eras because of the way the heightened powdery sweetness interacts with the violet-scented orris. (In the old days, orris was used as a fixative in makeup, like lipsticks or face powder.)
Originally, though, there was far, far more to L’Heure Bleue than confectionary pastries, almondy sweet Play-Doh, or feminine makeup powder puffs. As we shall soon see, smoky orange blossoms, musky leather, and balsamic resins were also strong elements. There were even Bulgarian roses, a note that I had never encountered in any major or intense way in the 1980s era L’Heure Bleue that I had adored, but which I was astonished to see wafting in force in the old extrait versions. A huge, deep vein of blood-red roses pulsating through the opening? In L’Heure Bleue?? Who knew?!
I certainly hadn’t, but then extremely old L’Heure Bleue turned out to be like extremely old Shalimar in that way: its notes, character, and feel were different in the era and concentration that I originally encountered the fragrance than they had been decades earlier in its pure parfum form. The 1980s may not have been the 2010s in terms of IFRA-EU reformulation but, even back then, I think L’Heure Bleue had changed in its feel and vibe. Granted, one has to consider the impact of concentration differences, evaporation, and the concentration of notes when it comes to very old bottles, and even how the vagaries of memory may play a role in recalling how a fragrance used to be, but I don’t think those are the sole factors in explaining the differences. Just like with vintage Shalimar, I think the extremely old extraits were simply more opulent in their materials, the lavish quantities used for certain notes, and in the proportions which ensued.
Take, for example, the issue of powderiness which is one of the main traits that people now associate with the scent. “Melancholy,” “nostalgic,” or even “dated” are other traits, particularly amongst young(er) perfumistas who have tried more recent formulations of the fragrance. I don’t think that was true in quite the same way with vintage L’Heure Bleue parfum. In my opinion, the change in proportions or note ratios has impacted the degree of powderiness perhaps more than anything else, because it really wasn’t at the same levels before, not even remotely so with one very aged extrait that I tried.
In fact, I think people’s modern perception of L’Heure Bleue as being a “melancholy” scent is related to the powder issue just as much as it’s responsible for young people perceiving it as “old lady.” While I dislike that term in any context, I have to admit, I can see why people might interpret L’Heure Bleue that way, at least if they tried it in the last few decades. Monsieur Guerlain explained it more succinctly than I ever could: “Because L’Heure Bleue is so pronouncedly powdery, it is today primarily celebrated as a nostalgic perfume, probably explaining why most people think it exudes melancholy.” He then goes on to say: “What Jacques Guerlain meant to express, though, was a sense of serene happiness, represented by the magical stillness of the twilight hour.” He’s right, but, personally, I think it’s easier to convey serenity and timeless, romantic, non-fuddy-duddy beauty when one isn’t inundated in a gourmand powder puff, as one is today, and when there is a stronger emphasis on other elements, the way L’Heure Bleue had originally.
The point of this has been to provide a contextual framework for the olfactory analysis ahead, but we should get back to the basics: L’Heure Bleue’s note list. According to Monsieur Guerlain, the fragrance includes:
anise, bergamot, orange blossom, heliotrope, tuberose, carnation, violet, jasmine, Bulgarian rose, tonka bean, orris, benzoin, vanilla, musk.
Personally, I would add birch wood (leather) and styrax resin to that list as well, at least for the early decades. Every account of vintage L’Heure Bleue mentions the leather in the base, including Monsieur Guerlain’s. From the 1980s onwards, however, I think Guerlain substituted sandalwood for the birch leather, just as they did with Shalimar.
VINTAGE L’HEURE BLEUE EXTRAIT — 1960s:
Several months ago, I bought a corded, unopened bottle of vintage L’Heure Bleue parfum. It came nestled in the old brown and beige presentation boxes that I call the “Harvest” boxes because of their images of a man with sheaves of grain, animals, and nature. The “Harvest” boxes started around the 1930s, I think, or possibly even earlier, and they were used for different Guerlain extraits regardless of whether they came in the “Heart-shaped” design like my L’Heure Bleue or in one of its other shapes, like the “Parapluie” or “Umbrella.” This one had a gold Marly Horse logo imprinted inside as well. (For an explanation of all these terms, please see Part III of my Guide to vintage Shalimar.)
Recently, Raiders of the Lost Scent came out with a fantastic article on how to assess the date of vintage Guerlain fragrances based solely on the sticker (or postage-looking paper stamp) on the bottom of the bottle. The stamp/sticker has fallen off my bottle but was included inside the box and, judging by both the wording and colour of the text, it places the date somewhere between 1967 and 1976. I think my bottle is at the oldest end of that spectrum because of the crazy colour of its juice: it’s dark orange-brown in hue, unless one puts it in the light whereupon it’s actually and literally orange-red, which is the colour I’ve seen when people have shared photos of their pre-1960s bottles. Plus, the liquid in mine is thick in texture, and the fragrance’s bouquet is unbelievably concentrated, even for a very old extrait. It’s so concentrated, dark, and dense, that, frankly — if it weren’t for the Raiders of The Lost Scents sticker article and if I’d been judging by its smell alone — I would have guessed this was a 1950s bottle. Plus, an age of 60-something years would also explain the amount of evaporation in an otherwise unopened bottle. Nevertheless, dates don’t matter as much as smell, so let’s just call this version a 1967 one and go on from there.
This bottle of vintage L’Heure Bleue opens with bergamot drizzled over a floral bouquet of roses, jasmine, orange blossoms, and violets. The latter are beautiful, visually purple in hue but smelling green, dewy, sweet, liquidy, and also candied. On the sidelines, there is a soft fringe of green from tuberose that is both floral and mossy in nature. The floral bouquet may be at the forefront of the bouquet, but it is hardly the only thing. Rich vanilla is layered between each flower, along with L’Heure Bleue’s signature of heliotrope, anise, and tonka. Vanilla meringue and marshmallow powder are lightly dusted on top, though never enough to make the fragrance read as “powdery” in any way.
Each note is deep, layered, and robust in aroma. The anise smells partially like the bright green, fresh fronds of its plant (fennel), but also has an undertone of spicy black pepper. The vanilla is enormously creamy, like a French Bean vanilla custard ice cream. The jasmine and orange blossom are both syrupy and indolic, while the orris smells exactly like violets. The roses are incredibly beefy and blood-red, oozing out a honeyed, fruity sweetness in such a naturalistic way that they resemble roses growing in a garden. The bergamot initially smells bright, bold, but also raw, like the sort in 1970s Shalimar parfum, although it eventually takes on its Earl Grey and smoky tea aromas that were typical of older Shalimar bottles. In L’Heure Bleue’s base, darkness awakens after 10 minutes: thin streaks of treacly, smoky, balsamic resins lie next to birch tar leather that smells of singed campfire woods and smoky, cured, salty meats.
It was a slightly different story when I applied a small quantity of scent instead of my standard baseline amount (either 2 sprays or their dabbed, smeared equivalent). With only a few light dabs, the proportion were entirely different and L’Heure Bleue opened smelling much like a 1950s bottle of Shalimar parfum: wave after wave of roses and syrupy jasmine, both coated with rich bergamot-vanilla cream and lying atop a massive slab of resinous, woody, and smoky leather. There was only the lightest suggestion of the signature anise-heliotrope-orris-violets, a mere wisp in the background. It was so light and so minor in fact that when I smelt my very first bottle of truly aged LHB extrait, I had to double-check the name on the bottle. I don’t know what confused me more, the roses, the pulsating leather, the strength of the bergamot, or the absence of powdery heliotrope meringue. The bouquet did subsequently take on more traditional L’Heure Bleue characteristics, particularly the violets and heliotrope, but that opening really flummoxed me and was like nothing that I’d ever encountered in the 1980s.
This 1967 extrait changes in small, quiet ways as the hours progress, so small that one doesn’t always realise until, suddenly, one ends up wearing a very different fragrance than it was at its start. Most of the changes are simply to the order, prominence, and nuances of the notes that make up the fragrance’s 3 central accords: the indolic white florals, the leather, and the gourmandise. In fact, I think L’Heure Bleue is the most linear and the simplest of the “Big Three,” as I call Guerlain’s most famous early fragrances. (Sorry, Apres L’Ondee, I love you too.) What separates one stage from the next is often just the degree to which a particular note or accord is being emphasized. The first is the complex floral oriental bouquet that I’ve just described. The second is centered primarily on intensely indolic, intensely musky, smoky floral leather. The third is an ambered gourmand.
But, as I said, L’Heure Bleue makes its way slowly to each one. For example, roughly 30 minutes in, the flowers grow more indolic and sweeter, led now by the orange blossoms, then followed several steps behind by the jasmine, the violets, and the heliotrope, in that order. The rose brings up the rear, while the tuberose disappears entirely. There is only the tiniest iota of powder in sight, perhaps because it’s been swallowed up by the indoles and their smoky muskiness. While all of this is happening, the anise turns more peppery; the bergamot melts into the vanilla in such a way that they’re impossible to separate; and the smoky, tarry birch leather starts to slowly rise up from the base. It reaches the top at the end of the first hour and the start of the second. By the end of the second hour, L’Heure Bleue’s focus is begins to shift to the leather and indolic orange blossom, a transition to what will be the second main stage.
That stage starts at the end of the third hour and the start of the fourth. I’d estimate roughly 80% of L’Heure Bleue’s bouquet on my skin consists of floral leather: intensely indolic, intensely musky, strongly smoky and sticky orange blossom leather. Jasmine and bergamot-vanilla lightly lick its edges, while a thick, treacly river of balsamic resins tie everything together. There is hardly any heliotrope marshmallow, only a passing, ghostly whisper of violets, no anise, and no powder at all.
The leather is a real surprise in this version of L’Heure Bleue. Roughly 6.5 hours in, it turns animalic and almost raw in feel. I don’t know if it’s due to the indirect impact of the indoles, perhaps even the raw bergamot oil on the leather, or something, but it’s almost like a thick slab of barely cured raw hides on my skin, only this one has skanky, smoky, and deeply indolic florals (mostly orange blossom but some jasmine as well) slathered on top. In addition, there is a good dose of smoky resins (styrax?) that are practically smoldering in feel, and a drop of charred birch woods. There is some vanilla enfolded within, but it’s a light touch that is squashed down by the other notes. It’s the same story with the heliotrope which really feels like nothing more than another form of sweetness, one that is buried within the other florals’ syrupiness.
I don’t think L’Heure Bleue was intended to be this way, and I think evaporation, concentration, and the age of the extrait are largely responsible. They have amplified the darkness, smokiness, and muskiness which is innate to three separate elements: the leather, the indoles, and the resins. When those three things come together, then percolate for decades, the result not only intensifies their traits to a huge degree, but also gives them far greater prominence in the overall composition than Jacques Guerlain ever intended. After all, one is supposed to wear a fragrance at the time one buys it, not 60 years later. Still, the degree of the leather was such that I spoke to Monsieur Guerlain about it. He agrees that old extraits are extremely smoky, and he thought that eugenol may be an additional factor.
L’Heure Bleue’s drydown begins roughly 10 hours into the fragrance’s development, and the focus changes to a gourmand bouquet. The vanilla emerges as a dominant note, fusing with caramel-scented benzoin and the heliotrope. The end result is something that smells exactly like a melting marshmallow coated in caramel. I keep thinking of S’mores, an American treat, where melted marshmallows are stuck between cookies, biscuits, or, sometimes, between slabs of chocolates. L’Heure Bleue has basically turned into the olfactory equivalent of S’mores on my skin, where caramel-coated, melted marshmallows and a fading touch of indolic, syrupy florals are sandwiched between musky leather and balsamic resins. To the extent that marshmallows have an innate powdery undertone, there is some of that going on here but never so much that I feel as though I’ve been enveloped within a feminine powder puff.
I do, however, feel as though I’ve been dipped in caramel vanilla which is precisely what L’Heure Bleue turns into in the second half of its drydown: ambery, slightly resinous caramel shot through with creamy marshmallow vanilla. There are faint curlicues of smoke at the edges, but they’re subtle and simply add to the sense of caramelized vanilla. In its final moments, all that’s left is syrupy sweetness.
This 1967 extrait version of L’Heure Bleue had huge longevity, initially intense sillage that took a while to turn soft, and low projection. With several smears equal to a bit less than 2 sprays from a bottle (more like 1.5), the fragrance opened with about 3 inches of projection and 4 inches of sillage but the latter grew to 7-8 inches after 40-60 minutes. The projection dropped incrementally but faster than the scent trail. At the start of the 3rd hour, the projection was about 1.5 inches above the skin, while the sillage was back to about 4 inches. About 6.5 hours in, the projection was about 0.5, while the sillage was soft, but it took 8.25 hours in total for L’Heure Bleue to turn into a skin scent. It coated the skin as the merest wisp after the 12th hour, but lasted just short of 16.5 hours in total. When I applied the equivalent of 1 small spray, L’Heure Bleue lasted just short of 12 hours, but was very soft after the 5th hour on my skin.
VINTAGE L’HEURE BLEUE EXTRAIT — 1970s:
I have a bottle of L’Heure Bleue that’s extremely hard to date. It’s a “Parapluie” or “Umbrella” bottle, a design which was in use from 1952 to the end of the 1970s. It comes in a Marly horse version of the brown “Harvest” box, and the Marly horse logo was also used until the late 1970s. (See, Part III of the Shalimar Guide for more details on Guerlain bottles and box packaging.) Unlike Shalimar’s Urn/Bat bottle, the design never changed, so we can’t rely on that to tell us anything. The base of the small 7.5 bottle is too tiny to Guerlain to have used any sticker or stamp, so that option is out, too. Labels for the Parapluie bottles don’t tell us anything really about the age of the bottle but, even if they did, it had fallen off my bottle prior to my buying it. At a guess, though, I think that the bottle is probably from the middle to late 1970s. The factors that I’m relying upon are: its scent as compared to the extrait version I’ve just described; the Marly logo; and the colour of its juice as compared to the 1960s extrait.
[UPDATE 11/16: One of my readers kindly shared some of his Guerlain expertise on the subject of the bottle. “Sam in London” wrote that it was made of pressed glass, and “could have been made by one of three factories: Pochet et du Courval, Verreries Brosse or Saint-Gobain – Desjonquères.” (Bolding emphasis added by me.) As for the possible significance of the “B” imprint on the back of the box in the photo above, he was uncertain, and I certainly don’t know.]
The 1970s extrait opens on my skin with an intensely indolic white floral bouquet dominated to a significant degree by orange blossoms. Syrupy jasmine trails behind like a handmaiden, while bright, raw, and slightly bitter bergamot oil is drizzled on top. Once again, a thin fringe of greenness surrounds the flowers, thanks to tuberose that smells floral but also mossy, indolic, and camphorous. Candied purple violets, golden roses, and a very floral-smelling heliotrope quietly stand on the sidelines. Dark vanilla, cinnamon-scented benzoin, and a touch of smoky styrax leather run through the base.
It’s a beautiful, luxurious and intensely feminine bouquet. L’Heure Bleue may have been inspired by dusky, purple twilight on the Seine and impressionist paintings, but this version is a rich oil painting done in clear brush strokes in a palette centered on inviting, decadent golds, yellows, and cream that are lightly edged in dark shadows, soft greens, ambers, orange, and only a touch of violet. The main florals may be white, but they read as completely golden; the perfumer may have been inspired by retrospective, peaceful walks, but the scent itself feels ebullient, joyful, bright, and glamorous. There is not one sign of a girlie powder puff, like the modern versions, but also none of the more demure beauty and delicacy of the L’Heure Bleue that I knew in the 1980s. This L’Heure Bleue is a vibrantly confident adult woman who can joyously revel in her femininity without losing her glamourous side.
The 1970s version largely follows the same template as the 1967 parfum, but both the details and the feel of the fragrance are different in the first 60-90 minutes. It’s lighter, thinner in body, and softer than the 1967 extrait, less dense, dark, or heavy, although it’s still quite powerful when smelt up close. The bouquet is also brighter, less sultry and smoldering than the 1967 extrait. The initial note development differs, too. Roughly 15 minutes in, the heliotrope surges to the forefront, pushing aside the tuberose to stand next to the jasmine handmaiden worshiping the orange blossom queen. The heliotrope no longer smells purely floral but is taking on a distinctly vanillic sweetness that is just like marshmallows, only spicier. The tuberose retreats to the background, lingers for a short while, then disappears entirely not long after. The violets grow stronger than ever, turning purely candied in nature. More significantly, the vanilla and benzoin begin to seep up from the base, creating a distinct caramel aroma. The caramel note occurred so much later in the 1967 version but, here, it’s prominent right in the opening. In fact, the fragrance’s sweetness levels are rising in general. The jasmine once again turns to honey, while the orange blossom occasionally reminds me of a very floral version of orange marmalade. It’s far too sweet and gourmand for my personal tastes when smelt up close, but it’s absolutely delectable from afar. It feels even more golden than before, although, to me, the changes also mean that the vibe is shifting from its earlier complex, intense, haute couture glamorousness into something not casual, per se, but perhaps more insouciant or easygoing.
Since there is not one jot of powder in sight in the opening hour, there is nothing dated or old-fashioned in feel. In that regard, L’Heure Bleue skews away from a fragrance with which it shares some olfactory overlap, Grossmith‘s 1906 Shem-el-Nessim which was similarly inspired by Coty‘s L’Origan. Thanks to its intensely gourmand character, the 1970s L’Heure Bleue feels much more modern than the 1967 version, in my opinion. The degree of sweetness make it feel like an extrait which Roja Dove, Xerjoff, or AJ Arabia might have released in recent times: it made me think of Roja Dove‘s orange blossom gourmand, Ti Amo; the immensely honeyed jasmine of Xerjoff‘s Al Khatt (but without oud or its barnyard animalics); and the ambered, floral vanilla-caramel of AJ Arabia‘s Black V. The difference is, 1970s L’Heure Bleue also has candied violets, heliotrope marshmallow, golden roses, and an increasingly powerful streak of leather.
The 1970s version of L’Heure Bleue follows the progression of the 1967 one to a T. Only the timing and nuances of things are different. Roughly 45 minutes in, the leather joins the main notes on center stage, launching the second phase as early as the start of the 2nd hour. Once again, L’Heure Bleue becomes a smoky, intensely indolic, musky, orange blossom leather infused with fluctuating amounts of heliotrope marshmallows, jasmine syrup, vanilla custard, and caramel benzoin. A light touch of green anise and a few sugared violets are sprinkled on top; a sliver of singed birch wood runs through the base; and everything is wrapped up with ribbons of smoke. Basically, it’s a slightly more complex and more intensely floral, leathery, and indolic version of the S’mores drydown that I described in the 1967 fragrance.
At the end of the 2nd hour, smoldering resins join the party, and a veil of sweetened, vanillic meringue powder descends upon the leathery florals. The result is darkness edged with light, masculine contrasted with femininity, hot resinous smoke and leather side-by-side next to dessert pastries and violet-scented makeup powder. It may sound bizarre on paper, but it works beautifully and smells wonderful, even if it’s far, far too sweet for me personally when I smell my arm up close.
L’Heure Bleue’s third stage begins roughly 4.25 hours into its development. The leather disappears, leaving only a vapor of smoke in its stead. Now, the bouquet consists primarily of ambered, caramel marshmallow florals, as much as 80% of it at a rough estimate. The remaining 20% consists of tiny wisps of floral heliotrope, Earl Grey bergamot-vanilla custard, and anise, but they’re largely subsumed within the powerful central chord. When the full drydown begins in the middle of the 6th hour, there is only benzoin, caramel, and vanilla left, tied together with thin tendrils of smoke and an abstract, musky, strongly syrupy floralcy. Those strands slowly fade away, leaving just a haze of caramel on my arm in the very final hours.
The 1970s version of L’Heure Bleue extrait had lower sillage, projection, and longevity numbers than its 1967 sister. Using several smears approximately equal to the amount I used for the other fragrance, it opened with about 3-4 inches of projection and about 6-7 inches of a scent trail. Both dropped after 90 minutes. After 3 hours, the fragrance was close to the skin. It became a skin scent a bit after the 3.5 hour mark. In total, it lasted just under 12 hours, although one or two tiny patches on my arm wafted sweetness for a short while longer.
As a final note, I wouldn’t be surprised if this 1970s version were slightly truer to what Jacques Guerlain had intended. First, the leather phase was shorter, and the note was not quite so dominant in the same way as the 1967 version. Second, the fragrance had a heightened degree of brightness and sparkle in its opening that I suspect was more representative of the original.
VINTAGE L’HEURE BLEUE EDP — EARLY 2000s (+2011 EDP & 1980s EDT & PDT):
I have two bottles of L’Heure Bleue eau de parfum that are I’m going to call “vintage” because they were released in the early 2000s, before IFRA began its first wave of “suggested” restrictions in 2005/2006, supposedly in order to save mankind and humanity from allergic reactions. (The fact that the big aromachemical companies like Givaudan were spear-heading the push to deem synthetics as safer than natural materials, were lobbying hard and paying IFRA a lot of money, had nothing to do with it. Oh no, absolutely nothing at all…. It was all a purely altruistic and humanitarian effort to save that monumentally huge number of allergic people who had a gun to their head forcing them to wear fragrances that were hazardous with natural essential oils. I hope you detect the sarcasm and loathing in my voice.) Anyway, these bottles have batch sticker codes on their base dating them to 2003 and 2004. Despite the slight differences in the colour of their juice (the 2003 being browner and darker), they smell virtually alike, so I’ll talk about the 2003 one.
It’s difficult for me to review the eau de parfum because I really enjoy its scent from afar but, when I objectively and critically view its parts, both individually and collectively, I really can’t bear to smell the fragrance. It’s not a situation I encounter often, where the reviewer in me shudders a little and dreads to smell my arm in any depth up close, while the rest of me sniffs the scent trail wafting in the air happily. So long as I’m very far away from the fragrance, it reminds me of the 1980s EDT and PDT that I used to wear, although it’s not as beautiful, not as nuanced, not as smooth, and not nearly as well-balanced. (“PDT” stands for “Parfum de Toilette” which what Guerlain called its eau de parfum concentration, starting around 1984/86 and lasting until 1990 when it officially starting using the “eau de parfum” designation.)
Like the 1980s versions of L’Heure Bleue EDT and PDT, the 2003 EDP is heliotrope-centric, and right from the start. It opens with a mixed bouquet of flowers centered on heliotrope meringues, followed closely by violets that are candied but also a little dewy, green, and fresh as well. Orange blossoms and jasmine are several paces behind, both of them smelling syrupy, fruity, jammy, and faintly smoky in an indolic sort of way. There is a drop of bergamot that pops up before rapidly retreating to the sidelines. Once again, there is greenness that trims the flowers, except this time the tuberose smells purely synthetic, is merely an abstract suggestion, and dies even more quickly than in any other prior version.
Hanging over the flowers is a veil of anise and marshmallow powder, but it is the base which draws my attention with its streaks of synthetic woodiness that smell like completely fake “sandalwood” mixed with a slug of white musk and huge amounts of terribly shrill, poor quality vanillin that smells mostly of scratchy, grainy white sugar. L’Heure Bleue has never been an all-natural fragrance and I’ve never cared because the synthetics were judiciously handled, masterfully woven into the fabric of the scent to accentuate the notes in a positive way that never revealed the magician’s tricks. The synthetics in this 2003 EDP, however, are painfully and excessively obvious, and they show their cheap seams in a way that becomes more and more distracting for me as the fragrance develops.
Having said that, everything else is really pretty, at least to a heliotrope and violet lover like myself. If I don’t smell my arm up close and if I block out the awful base (that godawful, cheap “sandalwood,” the way the vanillin is increasingly shrieking like a deranged sugared banshee), then this 2003 L’Heure Bleue is a bright, rather delectable swirl of golden flowers laced in violet, cream, and just a touch of green. It’s basically a powdery feminine fluff ball where vanilla meringue vies with candied violets and other confectionary sweets under a stream of orange blossom and jasmine nectar.
To find any of this pleasant, though, one MUST love heliotrope in all its facets because the flower is highlighted in a way that exceeds even the 1980s versions. Each and every one of its olfactory characteristics are now on display, front and center, and they go beyond mere marshmallows, meringues, or floral-vanillic powder. For the first time, the heliotrope smells not only of bitter almonds and sweet almond marzipan, but, more importantly for some readers, it also wafts an unmistakable and powerful aroma of Play-Doh as well. I don’t mind it when it’s combined with everything else, but I know some readers dislike it immensely, so be warned.
In terms of the overall bouquet, the 2003 EDP changes in incremental, tiny steps but, in terms of nuances and the loudness of certain notes, the fragrance changes quite rapidly. Less than 15 minutes in, both the woodiness in the base and the powder up top grow noticeably stronger. More difficult for me, however, is the way the orange blossom, the jasmine, the violets, and the vanilla balloon in sweetness. The vanilla is particularly bad. It’s not simply tooth-achingly sweet like saccharine; it almost rises to the level of being acrid. In addition, it’s raspy and grainy in texture, and I can feel it coating the back of my throat every time I sniff my arm up close.
The vanilla may be the worst offender, but it’s not the only one. Around this time, the violets turn to pure candy, the jasmine’s honey turns suffocating, while the orange blossom turns into pure goopy, fruity jam. Matters aren’t helped by the benzoin’s arrival 30 minutes in, wafting dense, sticky caramel, nor by an abstract “rose” that smells more like red berried fruitchouli. It would be one thing to handle each type of sweetness by itself but, collectively, they are suffocatingly cloying for someone with my low tolerance levels for gourmands. As compared to the other versions, including the 1980s ones, the 2003 EDP is definitely death by sugar, like being drowned in a vat of pastry desserts.
Yet, despite all that, the fragrance has something surprisingly and wonderfully pretty about it when smelt from afar, perhaps because I’m such a sucker for heliotrope and this sort of orris/violets. Having said that, even the vapours wafting on the scent trail in the air have turned crystallized and ultra-sweet. It was never this way with the 1980s versions that I loved — never — or else I would not have worn them. Not once did they read as unbalanced, almost arising to the level of acridness.
If the vintage extraits of L’Heure Bleue turned indolic, leathery, smoky, and musky, the 2000-era EDP turns powdery, woody, and even more gourmand. In my opinion, there is zero birch in the EDP, so there is no sense of leather, but the beige woods (faux “sandalwood”) which replace it become a significant player in the exact same way. Just as the leather seeped up from the base to fuse with the main notes at the end of the first hour and start of the second, so does the “sandalwood.” The heliotrope smells more like almond Play-Doh than ever, while the anise starts to waft strong amounts of black pepper. The jasmine and orange blossom turn into a blur of simple white floral syrup. As for the bergamot, it turns ghostly, disappearing for large stretches of time before reappearing unexpectedly as the vanilla’s companion, then disappearing once more. For the most part, the second stage is basically a powdery, floral woody gourmand scent.
There isn’t much point in detailing the rest of the 2003 EDP’s development because it follows the basic LHB template from this point forth. The drydown at the start of the 4th hour is nothing more than a powdery floral marshmallow coated in caramel-vanilla that eventually dissolves into powdery, caramel-ish, syrupy sweetness.
This version of L’Heure Bleue had good longevity, and initially strong projection and sillage which gradually turned soft. With 2 sprays, the fragrance opened with about 4 inches of projection, while the scent trail was about 7-8 inches, perhaps due to the way my skin amplifies any fragrance with a high degree of synthetics in it. At the end of the 2nd hour, the projection was at 2.5, while the sillage dropped to 4-5 inches. The fragrance became a skin scent after 4.5 hours, but was easy to detect without huge effort up close until the 7th hour. In total, the 2003 EDP lasted a little over 11 hours.
The 2004 EDP that I have is practically identical in every regard. However, every time I wear it, I have the sense that it is weaker in body, feel, and sillage, and also slightly sweeter. (Yes, even sweeter!) Perhaps it’s merely my imagination, although the juice is noticeably lighter. Make of that what you will.
I want to briefly talk about a 2011 decant of L’Heure Bleue EDP that I own, even though it’s not vintage, because I think a differential comparison might be helpful to readers who have only experienced modern versions of LHB. This one has an intense black pepper note right from the start. There isn’t any discernible greenness or tuberose, but the bergamot is strong, dominant, and persistent. The problem is that it smells shrill, purely lemony, and painfully synthetic. There is practically no orris/violets to speak off, and significantly less orange blossom. There is, however, a ton more jasmine and, to my nose, it now smells excessively synthetic.
Oddly, the amount of heliotrope has been tamped down quite significantly in the opening phase, and it also doesn’t lead the fragrance right from the first sniff. In fact, there is so little heliotrope as compared to the 1980s and 2000s versions that, for much of its first hour, the majority of the bouquet smells of simple white florals (blurred together but mostly jasmine-ish) that have been drenched with shrill lemon (bergamot), raspy white sugar (vanilla), and clean musk. The other elements are either so watered down, minor, or muffled (particularly by the bergamot) as to be practically irrelevant. After this opening, the rest of the fragrance’s development approximates that of the 2003 version in its broadest trends.
But, for me, the strangest thing is how positively nondescript, anemic, translucent, and sheer everything is, even the supposed main notes. The fragrance is so wan, anemic, watered down, and lackluster that, had I smelt it blindly back in the 1980s, I would not have recognised this as “L’Heure Bleue,” especially during the first hour. I would have thought the fragrance was a cheap knock-off. It’s quite depressing, actually.
While this 2011 version isn’t represent “vintage” in any way, it’s significant because 2010 marked the era when IFRA/EU restrictions took over in a really major way. IFRA standards are non-binding and non-legal, but the parallel EU ones have the full force of law. What IFRA started in 2005/06 and 2008 really swung into high gear within the EU from 2010 onwards. So this 2011 decant represents a truly reformulated, modern version. A reader told me that Luca Turin feels Thierry Wasser has improved matters in the most recent version was just relaunched, but the 2011 version can still teach one a thing or two about how the fragrance has changed over time and, more to the point for our purposes here, that the older versions are better.
ALL THE L’HEURE BLEUES — 1960s TO EARLY 2000s:
Putting the modern 2011 aberration (and travesty) aside, I think L’Heure Bleue has actually held up surprisingly well over the last few decades as compared to some of her sisters. I think the reason is because it’s not so dependent on materials that are heavily restricted by IFRA/EU agencies. Heliotrope is not oakmoss, so L’Heure Bleue isn’t as vulnerable as, say, Mitsouko. In my opinion, the biggest reason for changes in character is cost-of-production considerations for the raw materials. But, when taken as a whole, L’Heure Bleue is still beautiful to pretty across its various decades, even if I’m not keen on smelling the 2000-era EDP up close.
What’s been interesting to me as I’ve explored the earlier decades and the extraits is how little they accord with my memory of the 1980s EDT and PDT. The latter both were closer to the 2003 EDP than, for example, the 1967 extrait. They were powdery, fluffy, sweet florals bouquets with a gourmand streak. That streak was basically amped up to crazy degrees in the 2000 era, but the bones of the fragrance otherwise remained the same as they had been in the 1980s. The bouquet of the 1980s EDT and PDT fell midway between the 1970s and the 2003 versions that I’ve described. The difference is that the EDT was obviously lighter, thinner, brighter, and less powerful than the higher concentrations. It had some shadows of darkness, smokiness, leather, and indolic muskiness, but they were mere shadows as compared to the 1967 version. I recall the sandalwood in the PDT, but it was never so much as to turn the fragrance’s focus into a floral-woody, rather than a floral scent. Both the 1980s EDT and PDT were powdery but, like everything else, it was balanced and well integrated into the other notes. I vaguely recall some almond with the PDT, but not with the EDT. Neither one, however, skewed into Play-Doh territory, though. In both concentrations, the heliotrope and violets were prominent, but one certainly smelt the orange blossom and jasmine. I honestly don’t recall tuberose being present; the roses were minor to the point of sometimes being ghostly whispers, always pale in nature, and short-lived. The bergamot never smelt like Earl Grey, but it was also never shrill, sharp, or like lemon. The vanilla wasn’t as rich as custard, but it also wasn’t sugary in nature and certainly nothing like cloying saccharine. It was silky and smooth.
It’s the 1960s and 1970s bottles in pure parfum form that are the real revelation with their central backbone of intensely indolic, smoky orange blossom accompanied by so much dark, smoldering, musky, almost masculine-skewing leather. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how much I really and truly enjoy the floral leather phase. It disorientates me in its alienness to what I knew so well, and it’s a little too assertively leathered and indolic for my personal tastes. But, at the same time, I find so much of this old version of L’Heure Bleue to be sultry, glamorous, and confidently bold that it’s hard not to be impressed or to fall under its charms. Even as I struggle with its leather or with the intensely syrupy nature of the orange blossoms and jasmine, the fragrance as a whole sort of sweeps me off my feet. I may be kicking and screaming a little as it drags me in its sway, but I’m also enjoying the ride.
Be that as it may, I don’t love the vintage L’Heure Bleue extraits the way that I do the Shalimar ones. I’m not obsessed, I’m not driven to want to wear it on each and every free night I have from testing, and I don’t sniff my arm with an almost orgasmic sigh of passion. Something is not hitting me personally in quite the same way as the really ancient bottles of vintage Shalimar, so I plan to seek out the oldest bottle of L’Heure Bleue EDT that is available as well as a 1980s parfum to see if either of those are the perfect Goldilocks version in terms of note ratios and, therefore, if they are more of a comfortable fit for my personal tastes.
For those of you who are considering trying vintage L’Heure Bleue for the first time, your personal tastes will dictate which concentration and era best suits your comfort zone. It will probably depend entirely on the notes that you want emphasized. As a general rule, when it comes to vintage fragrances that I buy for myself, I try to avoid anything past the 1980s but, in your case, you may well prefer 1990s or 2000 era L’Heure Bleue to one of the really old ones. If you’re a woman who loves intense gourmands, flirty florals, and girlie makeup bouquets, then you may actually want to focus on both a later edition and a weaker concentration. If you’re a man who wants musky, smoky, resinous leather and who doesn’t mind indoles or strong florals, then go as old as you can find, and stick to the extrait. Even if you dislike powder or Play-Doh aromas, the extrait may still work for you if you get one from the 1960s or earlier. But, even so, you must love indolic, strong florals that make the scent skew to the feminine side. There is no getting around that fundamental aspect of L’Heure Bleue.
VINTAGE BOTTLE DESIGNS, PACKAGING & DATING THE AGE OF A BOTTLE:
L’Heure Bleue came in most of the same bottle formats as vintage Shalimar except the main design for the extrait was the “heart-shaped” bottle and it never came in the bat/urn “Chauve Souris” design. But, just like Shalimar, there were also the Parapluie and Rosebud/Amphora designs for the parfum, the Goutte/Teardrop bottle for the Eau de Toilette, the Montre/Disk for the Eau de Cologne, and a few others. The accompanying packaging or boxes were similar to those offered for comparable Shalimar versions, except I’ve never seen a velvet flocked box for L’Heure Bleue parfum, only the Harvest boxes, with and without the Marly logo. You can read Part III of my Shalimar Guide for more details on each of those things, as well as the most basic tips for dating Guerlain fragrances in general and links to resources that elaborate even further.
The thing that makes L’Heure Bleue difficult for me to date is that weren’t deviations in the look of the bottles, labels, stems, or markings the way there were for Shalimar’s Bat bottle. It would be logical to assume that Baccarat and the other glass manufacturers used the same method for marking the bottom of the heart-shaped bottles (like acid-etching versus glass cutting), but I don’t know that for a fact. I’ve never actually seen a L’Heure Bleue bottle with acid-etching on its base, although I have for a Mitsouko bottle in the same heart design. My LHB doesn’t have it. Instead, it has a little symbol to the far right that looks like a squiggly sort of “B” that I assume stands for “Baccarat,” but I have no idea if that signifies a particular decade or not. (The bottle also came with a white paper collar imprinted with the word “Guerlain” on it, but I don’t know the dating significance of that either.) [UPDATE 11/16: “Sam in London” kindly explained that the bottle is actually not Baccarat. First, it’s made of pressed glass. Second, the squiggly symbol shown directly in the photo below is the “HP” mark of Pochet et du Courval. My sincere thanks to Sam for the information. The more facts and accuracy, the better.]
On top of all that, the look of the Harvest boxes doesn’t really change at all, so if one doesn’t have any outside packaging (like coffee bean paper, for example), then it’s even harder. As I explained in my Shalimar Guide, it wasn’t until 1976 that one could date things with real certainty because that’s when Guerlain started using batch codes. Prior to that, one had to rely on the look of the outer boxes, like whether they had a coffee bean pattern, a Zig-Zag zebra pattern, or something else. That’s useful information if you happen across an EDT, EDC, or PDT on eBay that includes its outer wrapping, but I don’t recall ever seeing the extraits on eBay with anything but the inner presentation, brown-and-beige “Harvest” box, and the look of those never changed over the decades in any noticeable way.
The one and only thing that may help is the base stickers on the bottle and a fantastic new guide from Raiders of The Lost Scents on them. All vintage Guerlains had base stickers or, as I like to call them, postage-looking “stamps,” which preceded the batch code stickers. Depending on the colour, the text, its wording, and any numbers that may appear, the article tells you the general decade of the bottle. For example, it turns out that one of my Shalimar bottles is actually from the 1940s (or earlier) because it has a red and blue sticker, and the text mentions “Belgique.” The stamp on another one of my bottles is slightly similar but it doesn’t have the word “Belgique,” and its roman numerals are located on the bottom left instead of the bottom right. All of that means the bottle is from the early 1950s. Since the same rules apply to L’Heure Bleue, the photos below should give you an idea of the stickers that you’ll find on that fragrance as well. For example, a sticker/stamp from the 1940s or earlier with the elements just described:
A sticker from the early 1950s, where the writing was still in red and blue, but the text did not include the word “Belgique” and the roman numerals were located on the left:
In terms of my L’Heure Bleue extrait, the sticker had fallen off but was tucked inside in the box and there is a photo of it below for you to compare. According to the Raiders article, it dates somewhere from 1967 to 1976 because: its colour is monochrome (not dual coloured); the last words in its text are “legislation en vigueur” instead of “magasins de PARIS”); and there is an alphabetic letter (A or B) in the lower left hand corner, not a Roman numeral:
I’ll let you study the Raiders’ post on your own if you have a bottle that you want to date, because it covers a lot more decades but, before I move on to other topics, I wanted to give André Moreau and Elena a huge round of applause and a “Bravo” for putting together an exceptionally useful, informative, and thorough guide. It must have taken a phenomenal amount of research and time, so I tip my hat to them both.
As for bottles and packaging from 1967 (really 1976) onwards, particularly those that have batch codes, there is no better resource than Raiders of the Lost Scent’s general Guerlain guide on those matters.
AVAILABILITY & PRICING — eBAY & ETSY:
Buying vintage L’Heure Bleue on eBay is a bit of an exercise in frustration and patience because bottles are not available with anything close to the same numbers as vintage Shalimar. In my experience, eBay tends to have “feast or famine” cycles of availability for a particular fragrance but, even taking that into consideration, L’Heure Bleue is still not as widely sold. The vintage parfum usually has the fewest entries and, if you’re looking for something 1 oz in size or larger, then you better be prepared to wait.
When I was looking on eBay US over the summer, there were never more than 5 extrait bottles at a time, sometimes even less. (I’m talking about listings for actual bottles, not tiny vials decanted from someone’s bottle.) Today, a search for “Vintage L’Heure Bleue Parfum” lists 13 results, shows only 6 entries (??), but 3 of them are for samples. Two of the other entries are 15 ml or 1/2 oz bottles, and they’re priced at $225 and $315. A third looks to be the same size but is half full (though sealed), and costs $200. If one broadens the search to “vintage L’Heure Bleue” of all types, an additional 24 entries pop up, 2 of which are extrait bottles (so we’re back to 5 total). However, most are eau de toilettes from the 1980s onwards, sample vials, or nearly empty bottles.
One thing stands out to me in that measly selection: a 1 oz, Marly box, Baccarat bottle that looks practically full (and that is mislabeled as being 1/2 oz) with a starting bid of $149. Unfortunately, the seller only ships within the US but, if you’re a hardcore L’Heure Bleue lover who lives overseas, then you may want to see if a friend located in America will let you use his/her address for receipt and then ship it to you. Assuming that you win the auction, of course.
There aren’t a lot of other great choices on eBay at the moment, and I don’t think there have been for a while. Most searches pull up a plethora of empty bottles. To tell you how bad the availability and prices are for vintage L’Heure Bleue, I’ve seen empty LHB heart-shaped bottles going for $80, and one person is offering a mere “Harvest” box, completely empty, for $150. That’s crazy!
These are significantly higher prices that what I encountered this past summer. As a point of comparison, I bought my 7.5 ml Parapluie/Umbrella bottle for about $68, while my 1 oz extrait was a roughly $180. Both were auctions, not “Buy it Now.” (As a side note, I bought my 2003 and 2004 EDPs, each one 2.5 oz or 75 ml, for roughly $85 and $60, respectively. Both were listed in the general “L’Heure Bleue” category, not as vintages, even though one of them came with the old black-and-gold box.)
Unfortunately, availability is even more limited in Europe. On eBay UK, a search for “Vintage L’Heure Bleue Perfume” brought up 52 results, almost all of which were empty bottles (with a few vintage poster ads thrown in). With a worldwide search for “Vintage L’Heure Bleue Fragrance,” eBay UK gave me seven results: 2 empty bottles, 2 EDTs, 1 EDC, 1 extrait from America, and 1 microscopic 2 ml mini extrait. The simple fact of the matter is American sellers have more vintage fragrances, but not even they have a ton of L’Heure Bleue.
My suggestion is to be patient, but also to expand your search. On eBay, keep an eye on the regular L’Heure Bleue listings, since someone might not realise that their bottle is a vintage one or mislabel their entry.
On top of that, consider other sites, like Etsy, for example. A search for “Vintage L’Heure Bleue” produced 31 results, and a few were bottles that were not offered on eBay. One shop, Starlet Fume, has a huge stock of vintage fragrances, 139 in total right now, and many of them are Guerlains, including five vintage L’Heure Bleue bottles. (The 6th result in that search is a huge, 250 ml hand-painted, gold leaf “Bee bottle,” but it’s from 2014.) Unfortunately, she doesn’t ship outside the US, and her prices are higher than what I’ve seen for comparable bottles on eBay, like her 1970 Rosebud L’Heure Bleue that is only about 10 ml full but priced at $225. That said, you should absolutely check out her store and offerings if you’re in the US. If you’re not but you discover something you really want, then, again, you may want to see if a friend located in America will let you use his/her address for receipt and then ship it to you.
Just to let you know, though, Etsy sellers are located all around the world. Parfums de Paris in the UK has a 2 oz, Baccarat, limited edition flacon of L’Heure Bleue extrait from a special, numbered release in the 1990s. It costs a whopping $2,241, but she ships to “selected countries,” in this case, the US and the UK. However, the listing says “reserved for TC.” I assume it’s a friend, but it’s strange that there is an option to add it to one’s cart (and it worked when I used it in a test run). I personally think $2200+ is excessively high for a 1990s bottle, but then limited-edition stuff never does much for me.
Having said that, I strongly encourage both men and women vintage lovers in the UK to check out her store which has 429 listings, 333 of which are classified as “women’s vintage fragrances.” 18 are men’s vintages, including one listing for 3 ml decants of Guerlain’s Cuir de Russie from a flacon that dates to 1872!! I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that. (If I weren’t so wary of the Royal Mail and how fragrances are confiscated unless FedEx is used — usually for crazy shipping prices — then I would instantly order a decant for myself.)
I fear I’ve gotten carried away and a little off track, but the point is that there are alternative to eBay if you’re looking for vintage L’Heure Bleue or for vintage fragrances in general. Etsy’s prices are sometimes a lot higher, but the selection is sometimes better, there is no auction bidding, and sellers are subject to feedback ratings just like on eBay so you can assess their reliability. While the individual fragrances that I’ve linked to here will undoubtedly be sold in the coming weeks, both the general eBay search links and the individual Etsy store ones will remain viable even if you stumble across this post in a year or two.