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Auvergne Fragrances: An Interview with Poécile founder Léa Chonier

I wanted to help people discover my landscape through scent.

– Léa Chonier

The approach of midsummer in Auvergne is always heralded by a symphony of wildflowers — each with its own hidden olfactory attribute. In the mountain pastures and woodlands, they work their floral magic, forming a blanket of pastels and casting — over the wind — a melange of fragrances that raises the spirits like the aerial sylphs about whom some mystically inclined Renaissance philosophers theorised.

Entrepreneur Léa Chonier has skilfully and mindfully captured some of these natural scents, synthesising them to create the Auvergne-based perfumery Poécile. Passionate about sustainability, the environment, and local expertise, Chonier draws special inspiration from Auvergne’s landscapes, which she has collectively characterised as a “volcanic Eden”.

I spoke to Chonier to learn more about Poécile’s origins and influences.

A.D. Manns: Which part of Auvergne are you from?

Léa Chonier: Poécile was created in Saint Rémy sur Durolle, a village 60 km from Clermont-Ferrand. It’s my home village. Before setting up Poécile, I lived in Paris. I’m leaving Paris to spend some time in my native Auvergne. And this return to my roots sounds good!

I rediscovered my region through my senses and I’m realising that it’s often said that perfume is an invitation to travel, but that it’s often a distant journey…So I decided to put France at the heart of the creative process, drawing inspiration from our landscapes to put them in bottles.

AM: What experiences in your village and the surrounding countryside have most influenced Poécile’s overall philosophy?

LC: I wanted to help people discover my landscape through scent. With Eden Volcanique, I transcribed my region in the bottle. I drew inspiration from my walks in the forest with my family, from moments in my grandmother’s vegetable garden, and I also from narcissus. Narcissus is a flower from the Auvergne. In May and June, you can see fields covered in these white flowers. 

Our fragrances are designed as journeys. Eden Volcanique was inspired by a walk in Auvergne, not by one landscape in particular, but by several. You start by imagining yourself in the heart of centuries-old forests, feeling the freshness of oak moss. Then Eden Volcanique takes you to the top of the Chaîne des Puys, and you feel the pure air! Finally, the walk continues in the heart of a narcissus field where you can imagine yourself picking these beautiful white flowers with their aromatic notes.

AM: When did you decide that you wanted to become an entrepreneur?

LC: It was the lockdown that made me realise that I wanted to create my own brand, my own business. Then we worked to create the right formulas and the first fragrances came out in November 2021.

I think I’ve always had the soul of an entrepreneur. I’m a very curious person who’s always looking for a challenge. The job of entrepreneur actually encompasses many different professions. It’s very exciting every day.

AM: What was most challenging about creating Poécile?

LC: It was important for me to find the right people to work alongside. Men and women who are experts in their field. Finding the right materials and the right manufacturing processes. It takes time, but it’s essential. I’ve chosen to work only with French producers. My desire is also to highlight French know-how, with the perfume in Grasse, the bottles in the north of France and our wooden caps made in the Jura for example. 

For more information on Poécile, which ships internationally, click here.