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By Chere Di Boscio
Louis the XV made love to his Queen while they flickered in his bedroom. Louis the XVI ‘s cell was illuminated by them as he waited for his execution at the guillotine. Peasants were married and wept for their dead by their light in the Gothic cathedrals in Paris, and still today, Cire Trudon candles illuminate some of the world’s most stylish homes.
In the 17th century, candle makers were as common as baguettes. However, one manufacturer, Cire Trudon, became popular with Kings for the quality of their goods: this small, family run business used a meticulous wax purifying technique which allows for an even, white, smokeless burn. The light from these candles was so beautiful that the company survived not only the French Revolution, but the invention of gas, and later electric, lighting. Today, it is the world’s oldest surviving candle maker, and is still considered the most prestigious.
The Best Candle Makers in the World?
In fact, even the moulds used to make the candles have not changed for over 300 years, and are still stamped with the words: “cierge pascal pour la Chapelle du Roy a Versailles” or “ Bougies de nuit pour le Roy” (“Easter candle for the Royal Chapel in Versailles”, or “Night Candles for the King”). So important were the candles to the leaders of France that when Napoleon’s son was born in 1811, he gave him one single gift: a Trudon candle with his cameo, encrusted with three gold nuggets.
The company is renowned today for its wax bust of Napoleon, which, though made of wax, is not meant to be burnt–indeed, Cire Trudon candles are so sought-after, they’re practically collectors items in their own right. The durability, naturalness and beauty of the candles have led many to state that these are the best in the world.
The Perfume of Power
The scented candles are relatively new, however, and feature primal scents reflecting the natural world, but simultaneously evoke power with products named after grand estates and historical figures.
There’s Balmoral, with its top notes of foliage, mint and cut grass and base of musk, pine and sap, or Trianon, dedicated to Marie Antoinette, with its galbanum and cyclamen top notes, punctuated by hyacinth, rose and white flowers on a musk base. Slightly out of place in this historical context is Ernesto, dedicated to the revolutionary Che Guevara, whilst Nazareth is a churchy scent, with cinnamon and citrus notes sitting on a vanilla, musk and myrrh base. My personal favourites are Ottoman, which gives a nod to the spices (clove, cinnamon) and regional perfumes (jasmine, myrrh) that helped boost the Oriental Empire’s trade, and Parquets de Versaille, heady with the wood and wax scents of that famous flooring.
Crafted from vegetable wax and using only cotton wicks, these natural creations use no harmful chemicals whatsoever in their manufacture, and have been given consumer approval by Greenpeace. Part of the profits from the sales of the Nazareth candle go to the Terre d’Aveilles foundation, which protects bees and other pollinating species, further underscoring Cire Trudon’s strong ecological credentials.
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