Niche Fragrance Magazine

Byredo Bal d’Afrique- A comforting love affair in Paris

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Bal d’afrique changed it all for me. I remember like it was yesterday, I was strolling through the streets of Paris and to my delight, there is some kind of fragrant store on every street corner. I think I started on Boulevard Haussman, spending a whole morning and part of an afternoon in Galleries Lafayette and Le Printemps (mind blowing experience) . Wandering, on a fragrant journey with no expectations or final destination, my nose had finally made it to the Mecca of perfume. I sniffed every Guerlain, Kurdjian, Nasomatto, Chanel Exclusif and everything else within arm’s reach. Unbeknownst to me, Colette would be my final destination. Grace to their crappy customer service, I had ample, uninterrupted time to give the more than hyped houses of Le Labo and Comme des Garcons a shot. Nothing. They all fell flat, maybe, it was my worn down nose, my beat energy or my running-thin patience. Then, a glimmer of hope, a slither of heaven and ray of sunlight beckoned me and it came in the form of Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique.

My eyes lit up and my mouth watered as I stood in the middle of Colette. I may have had the biggest smile on earth, could this be love?

Bal d’afrique is vetiver based, but one would never know that at the start. I get the brightest citrus; bergamot and lemon mixed with a sweet and slightly creamy marigold. It’s slightly white floral-citrusy-musky for the first hour or so. Take it from someone who does not like white florals, even at the start, which is its most feminine, Bal d’afrique is still quite unisex.

One must appreciate musk and vetiver to appreciate Bal d’Afrique. The musk is there, offering a fuzzy base for the first couple of hours. Then enter the vetiver; woody, slightly green and full of life.

The final stage is a whisper of  cedarwood at the 5-6 hour mark. My only gripe, why couldn’t this be as pungent as Pulp? Ok, pungent may not be the right word, but Bal d’afrique could benefit from a wee bit more sillage and strength. Not that I care for Pulp as a scent to begin with, but the amplification of its relatively “fresh” notes are something to marvel at.

Maybe it’s all coincidence to discover a fragrance so majestic in the same city that inspired its creation, but I like to think its fate. That was almost four years ago and Bal d’Afrique still stands as my personal favorite. Maybe it’s my affliction for Paris or sentiment, but one thing is true, Bal d’Afrique smells heavenly. Bal d’Afrique is my comfort scent of a distant past, my number 1 smell on earth and my fragrance journey could have ended there, but it was only the beginning.


Hi I am Narada! I discovered my love for all things fragrant after two years of living in France and running out of my sole bottle of cologne that I took with me, YSL L'Homme. Probably the greatest place on earth to run out of your signature scent. I tried to visit every perfumerie from Spain, all the way to Hungary. So, many of my reviews, stories and shorts may reference my travels. Enjoy!

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