Two of my favorite French things have Armenian roots: Charles Aznavour and Papier D’Armenie.
Papier D’Armenie, a sweet-smelling room deodorizer, magically rids a space of cooking smells, moldy smells and, amazingly, cigarette smoke. It’s similar to incense, but comes in a packet of 2″ x 3″ chits of paper. Each burns for a short amount of time, kidnapping funk as it wafts away.
The killer ingredient in it is styrax. In the late 1800s, Auguste Ponsat, a Frenchman, observed in Armenia that people would burn the dried sap of styrax shrubs to freshen up a smelly home. Ponsat developed paper pages coated with styrax resin. Papier d’Armenie has been manufactured in Montrouge, a southern suburb of Paris, ever since.
A few years ago, a lighter, more floral variation of Papier D’Armenie was introduced (it’s the bluish cover with the bird illustration). And now a third version has been introduced. Today at the hardware store, I spotted “La Rose.” (Can a Karl Lagerfeld collab be far behind?) In typical French style, the booklets are as chic as they are useful. Can you think of any other country whose room deodorizer makes an appropriate souvenir gift?