Bal d’Afrique by Byredo Parfums

A few months ago: Enter an American girl in London, obsessed with beauty, finally made it to the Liberty store after walking up and down Oxford St. at least twice.  After deciding her future home needs to look like the outside of the shop, she wanders through every floor before allowing herself to peruse the beauty aisles.  She spots counters for brands she’s only heard about online, and several for brands she’s never even heard of.  Byredo Parfums is one of those brands.

byredo bal d'afrique 3

I was first drawn into the Byredo counter because the brand was totally new to me.  It said it was based out of Stockholm, Sweden and I happen to be one quarter Swedish.  I have never visited Sweden but my dad has and he said I would like it there.  Apparently they eat salmon like it’s chicken, everyone speaks English as well as Swedish, and almost no one is obese (the obesity epidemic disturbs me greatly… but more on that later).

Returning to Liberty.  The girl at the counter was very friendly and educated me on the brand.  She said they use the highest concentration of oils possible in their eau de parfums which makes the scent very intense and long lasting.  She also helped me choose which scents to test out of the twenty available.  After spritzing several on tester cards I completely fell in love with Bal d’Afrique.

byredo bal d'afrique 5

I was good and didn’t buy it right off the bat, but instead tried a bit on my wrist and wandered around the rest of the beauty section to let the scent develop.  I even left the store empty handed after finding out the price for both 50mL and 100mL.  The following morning I could still smell it on the cuff of my coat where it had rubbed against my wrist.

As we can all tell I was back that same evening to fork over my life savings for 100mL of what is possibly the most unique and amazingly complex scent I have ever come across.  I had been in the market for a new perfume and this one completely fit the bill.

byredo bal d'afrique 1

Now, why did I bother with this lengthy anecdotal introduction rather than just cracking on with the review?  I know not everyone will feel this way, but I believe that scents tell a story.  Every perfume I’ve ever owned brings me back to a different time in my life and evokes different feelings and I wanted to share something a bit more personal with you.

For me, this brief ten day trip to England was indescribably amazing.  It was my first solo international trip, my first time in Europe, and the first time I ever felt so completely at home and comfortable in a foreign place.  I realize that a lot of the thrill was due to the fact that this was a vacation and not me moving there, but I was so enamored with the lifestyle that I could completely see myself living there in the future.  This scent reminds me of the happiness, freedom and excitement I felt while exploring London.

So, what does this $220 bottle of fancy liquid actually smell like?  I’m not the best at describing scents, but I’ll give it a go.  I would definitely call this an oriental fragrance.  It’s quite citrusy when first applied and not at all floral, despite the fact that it contains floral notes.  I think they get lost in the mix, but I’m sure they add something to the overall result.  The citrus top notes make it quite fresh, but it’s also a very dark, warm scent due to the base notes.  This is the only fragrance one I’ve ever come across that seems equally appropriate for both summer and winter.  I think this would also be a good unisex scent for any man who likes a good citrus note.  Bal d’Afrique is very different from anything I’ve owned before.  It’s the only fragrance where I’ve had multiple people in the same day ask what I’m wearing.  The only downside is that unless you have an excellent French accent pronouncing the name is almost embarrassing!

The notes are shown below, with the top and heart notes included in a lovely little envelope with your purchase.  You should be able to click to enlarge the photo and read the product description.

byredo bal d'afrique 4

Top: Bergamot, Lemon, Neroli, African Marigold, Bucchu
Heart: Violet, Jasmin Petals, Cyclamen
Base: Black Amber, Musk, Vetiver, Moroccan Cedarwood

A few of the notes I didn’t recognize:

  • Bucchu- a flowering herbal plant native to South Africa
  • Cyclamen- a tuber plant with very unique, upswept flower petals
  • Vetiver- a tall grass whose roots are used to produce a fragrant oil

The packaging is, as it should be for such a luxe fragrance, beautiful.  I love the simplicity of it all.  The cap is magnetic and has a lovely weight to it.  The scent is very intense even with only one or two spritzes.  I can see this one bottle lasting me for a long time to come.  I find that on my skin it lasts about 6-8 hrs.  If I’m out and about for a full day I will reapply somewhere between lunch and dinner time.  Not entirely sure if reapplying it necessary, but my nose appreciates the pick me up.

Other fragrances I liked from Byredo included Gypsy Water (much more feminine, notes can be found here) and their Sunday Cologne (still unisex but a bit more masculine, notes here)  which I nearly bought for my boyfriend.

The Verdict

If you couldn’t already tell, I am completely 100% in love with this scent.  I love how unique it is, I love the memories it brings to mind, and I of course love the packaging.  If you like citrus notes and a more unisex scent this will probably appeal to you.  The price is very steep, up in the realms of Kilian and Tom Ford fragrances.  This bottle will certainly last a long time, but if and when it ever runs out I won’t be surprised if I shell out to repurchase.  If you’re looking for a worthwhile splurge on a fragrance, add Byredo Parfums to your shopping list.

Animal Testing: I was unable to determine whether Byredo Parfums are tested on animals.  If you know, please leave a link in the comments below so I can share!


Price per Eau de Parfum 100mL, $220 Eau de Parfum 50mL, $145
1 oz $66.67 USD $87.88 USD
100mL $220 USD $290 USD

Do you have a favorite fragrance from a slightly more obscure brand? Do scents bring back memories for you? Share in the comments, I’d love to know!


One thought on “Bal d’Afrique by Byredo Parfums

  1. Your comments are so lovely – I cannot resist – going to try to find it here in Cape Town where we grow Bucchu (and drink the tea all the time)


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