You want something refreshing, elegant, and often brilliantly priced. I’ve got the perfect scent solutions for you: the best eau de colognes (not to be confused with the generally American use of the term “cologne” for fragrances).
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If parfum is the highest concentration, then Eau de Colognes are at the opposite end of the spectrum with the lowest amount of oils at 2 to 4%.
They’re mostly about freshness and tend not to last more than a few hours. With their classic, timeless, elegant vibe, who could say no to that?
Insist on performance at all costs?
You’re missing out big time. Eau de Colognes are the ideal antidote to global warming heat and as some of my examples here illustrate, they can be remarkably cheap, so top up when needed.
Where known, the name of the perfumer is included in brackets after the name of the fragrance.
Our Recommendations For Best Eau de Colognes
l.T. Piver A La Reine Des Fleurs EDC (Michel Adam)
The French company has the distinction of launching the first aldehydic fragrance, L.T. Piver Rêve d’Or, in 1889, quite some time before the most famous example in the genre, Chanel No 5.
Founded in 1774, it’s also one of the oldest houses of French perfumery, although only perfume-geeks are aware of its existence and yours truly can’t find a functional website to learn more about it.
According to niche retailer Jovoy, it seems A La Reine des Fleurs takes its name from the perfume store founded by Michel Adam in Paris in 1774.
The freshness of citrus notes of lemon, orange and bergamot leads the way to the aromatics of lavender and rosemary. Thyme gives it a touch of herbal depth and I love how the spicy note of cloves – warm, woody, earthy, softly sweet – lingers in the background.
It’s sold in a splash cologne format and bottles as large as 14.25oz. The price you see on the Walmart site below is correct.
4711 Original EDC (Wilhelm Muelhens)
From the relative obscurity of L.T. Piver A la Reine des Fleurs to one many of us will recognise from the fragrance repertoire of our parents.
Apparently still made according to a secret recipe from 1792 (yes, it’s been around that long), it’s earned its iconic reputation for good reason.
Its attraction is evident from the start with pronounced notes of orange, bergamot and neroli proclaiming, “You’re onto something special.”
Lavender and rosemary contribute aromatic appeal to this blend that’s more than a fragrance – it’s a superb pick-me-up tonic.
The 4711 Remix range – Urban Summer (2020), Festival Vibes (2021), Exotic Paradise (2022), Sparkling Island (2023) – is well worth checking out if you want a more youthful spin on the theme.
On my recent visit to Mauritius, I picked up a bottle of this stuff for three reasons:
- It’s the very definition of cheap ’n cheerful.
- It reminds me of my mother.
- This 1965 release delivers lavender in camphor-ish style with herbal support from rosemary. Although on the rough and ready side, it’s a French pharmacy staple.
If splash cologne is not your style, simply decant the contents of the 8.08oz or 16.90oz into a smaller spray bottle for easier application.
Also look out for Bien-Être L’Original Naturelle EDC, Bien-Être L’Original Rose EDC and Bien-Être L’Original Fraîche EDC.
More than a century after its launch in 1916, Colonia still has much to offer. A lot of that has to do with the way this scent conjures up all sorts of images of the good life, Italian style.
It begins with a deliciously sharp-ish flourish of Sicilian citrus notes (lemon, orange, bergamot). A distinctive opening that’s impossible to resist.
The heart goes into more herbal territory with lavender, verbena and rosemary notes, while Bulgarian rose enhances the overall freshness.
These eventually give way to a woody base of subtle, yet uplifting vetiver, sandalwood and patchouli notes.
An essential part of any fragrance wardrobe.
I instinctively knew I was going to need something refreshing and rejuvenating on my recent trip to Mauritius.
And with temperatures of 25°C+, I was chuffed with myself for bringing this 2016 release from the family-owned French brand. I chucked it in my everyday bag and it went everywhere with me when I needed a cooling spritz.
It’s simplicity itself with notes of verbena (lemony-clean), yuzu (tart and green) and musk (for a bit of longevity, but not too much, it’s an EDC, after all, but so reasonably priced, just spray some more.)
My only complaint: I wish the company would share the name of the perfumer who created this gem, as it does with the releases from its Collection Grands Crus.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Champ de Fleurs EDC (Anne Flipo)
The niche pioneer L’Artisan Parfumeur added eau de colognes to their repertoire in 2017 with impressive results (also check out L’Artisan Parfumeur Sur l’Herbe EDC and L’Artisan Parfumeur Au Bord de L’Eau EDC).
Did you say light and bright? Then L’Artisan Parfumeur Champ de Fleurs EDC, a 2018 addition to the range, is calling your name.
It opens with fresh notes of pear and grapefruit, beautifully balanced between soft fruity sweetness and citric bitterness. There’s more freshness from floral notes of jasmine and lily-of-the-valley and white cedar, while musk brings clean powderiness to the drydown.
With its spring inspiration, it’s perfect for those days when only subtle and discreet sophistication will do.
Hermès Eau de Basilic Pourpre EDC (Christine Nagel)
I started wearing this 2022 addition to the French luxury brand’s quality-assured Colognes Collection in winter because I’m not particularly seasonal when it comes to fragrances but must admit it pops in all sorts of wonderful ways in the heat.
Opening with the sparkling citric freshness of Calabrian bergamot, it doesn’t take long for the star of the show, green basil, to make its entrance (FYI: the name of the scent references purple basil, the original inspiration for in-house perfumer Christine Nagel, but that variety can’t be distilled).
Yes, it’s fresh and herbal, but Nagel shows its aromatic and subtly spicy facets too, supported by the greenery of geranium.
Light touches of patchouli and spice conclude this beauty with musky warmth.
If you tell me I smell like a Mediterranean salad, I’ll take that as a compliment, thank you.
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Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.