Gypsy Magic?

Gypsy Magic?

This story is especially dedicated to Gypsy Purple, who asked for pictures of gypsies.

I didn’t get any pictures of gypsies, although I saw a few in Nice and was strongly tempted to drive a few hours and extend my stay in the south a weekend longer, just to see this.

But completely by chance, we met the most extraordinary woman who was able to open doors I had found locked tight.

But locked TIGHT. I was in despair. No one from outside that wonderful world of roses I was writing about could get through these doors.

Je vais te donner un mot de passe,” she said with a wink. I’m going to give you a password. “Roumani.”

Roumani. Romani. Gypsy Purple, I thought of you right away, the gypsy-ness of that password. And it worked. I was able to go everywhere and do everything.

It is a short story, it takes no time to tell. But it is a BIG story, for me. And it is my favorite story, for she truly was the most extraordinary woman, so full of energy and enthusiasm and generosity of spirit. And she made all the things I had dreamed of possible, when I was beginning to think there was no way to do what I wanted to do.

And I am so excited about the book I will have to show for it!

Here is a glimpse of this extraordinary woman’s world:


The medieval streets where she works.

Bouchara Labo

Her magician’s lab of potions to be made, each bottle filled with a scent.


An enthusiasm for the antique bottles of her profession.


The delight of finding old perfume formulas in an ancient chest. Can you tell which perfume this recipe is for?


Even a fondness for Americans that this Parisian proudly flaunts.

One of the items in the picture from the Trésor post, the one where I challenged people to figure out all nine items, is a bottle of perfume that I smelled in her laboratory. We gave another, Automne, to my mother-in-law.

  • You know, it really wouldn’t hurt to give us little clues about this new book. Would it?
    Speaking as someone just really on the very edge of the fringe of the outer side of the writing world, I have to admit that the idea of going to France for “research” is really fascinating. I mean, my last research trip involved a drive “down South”, and it will be followed by yet another, very soon. For the next book, the one that is now percolating in my brain and starting to seep out of my ears, my research includes many long nights in bars. Bars. Can you believe that? Yeah, my husband had a hard time swallowing that one too. Then again, he knows the story, so he believes me.
    Now to figure out how I can get a trip to France out of him for the third book, that has nothing to do with France at all. Any ideas, Laura?

    And did I mention just how good it is just to have you back? I know that you needed that trip. I know it was good for you to go over and visit family, and take your little angel to see so many wonderful places. but really? I missed you. And I’m very glad that you’re back.

    June 15, 2007 at 5:53 pm
  • Laura…how precious you are…you have no idea what a treat this was!!!!!!!
    See….I TRULY was there with you….in spirit….gypsy spirit….what a magical story and I`m so very very happy all woked out for you……now the book….I`m excited…and curious….

    June 15, 2007 at 9:23 pm
  • Dee, I always say, set your book where you want to spend your time, so…are you sure setting your book in bars isn’t Freudian? 🙂

    And thank you for the sweet welcome home.

    Gypsy Purple, it was one of those stories that if I put it in a fiction book, everyone would say it didn’t sound true. But it was. You must have been there in gypsy spirit truly, because when she said “Roumani” was my open sesame, I thought of you right away.

    June 17, 2007 at 10:39 am
  • What a enchanting post this is! Is this the test kitchen for Chanel No. 5?
    I see 1928 typed on that recipe. Did it smell wonderful in there? You had quite an adventure!

    June 19, 2007 at 3:27 am
  • Phyllis, you were very close! It’s the laboratory of a smaller perfumer, Lynne Bouchara (wife of Guy Bouchara). But that is the formula for Chanel N. 5. Or rather some old perfume-maker’s analysis of Chanel N 5 and the formula he used to imitate it. It’s a photocopy of an old piece of paper she found in an antique piece of furniture she bought from another perfume-maker.

    (There is no patent on perfumes, I learned, so it’s legal and common for perfume-makers to analyze another perfume’s formula like that.)

    The laboratory itself had no particular smell–which makes sense, I guess, if she works in there to create perfumes. But when she opened those bottles…that was something.

    June 19, 2007 at 7:20 am
  • Please see my blog, for a mention of this fabulous post…

    June 19, 2007 at 10:18 am
  • A family story always says something about a great uncle who created White Shoulders. Hmmmm, I wish I could go back in a Tardis and see what the story really is. I particularly love the photo of the street. I can picture this woman (older, in my mind) taking you under her wing. What a great story in and of itself.

    July 8, 2007 at 1:35 pm

Post a Comment