On vous dit tout sur l'odorat

We tell you everything about smell

  • Can you introduce yourself ?

My name is Roland Salesse, I was director for 10 years of the research laboratory on olfaction and taste at the INRAE ​​center in Jouy-en-Josas. And since I retired, I have devoted myself to popularizing science.

  • What is Le Petit Parfumeur?

It is an encounter between OUATE and a large number of children with whom we played before the 2022 summer holidays. Le Petit Parfumeur is about making them feel, but above all making them understand, that they have a nose and that they can use it.

  • Can you tell us about Nez en Herbe? What are the objectives ?

The association was born in 2017. It is a very young association. The covid also slowed it down since you couldn't smell with the masks. Nez en Herbe proposes to promote the olfactory awakening of children from the crèche.


  • What are the different stages of development of the sense of smell in babies and children?

The interest of the sense of smell is that it is already beginning to function in the mother's belly. In the last month of pregnancy, we are pretty sure it works. For example, when we give anise to the mother, we realize that after birth, the child who has experienced anise in utero, prefers this smell to another. So it starts there! This experience is stored in our olfactory memory, even if it is not conscious, and will serve us throughout our lives. Especially the smell of our mother, which we never forget. Gradually, we enrich our olfactory repertoire with age. And when you acquire language, you can start naming smells.

  • Are taste and smell related?

They are intimately linked. What is called taste is 80% smell. When we eat, we chew food, we release in the mouth the fragrant, volatile products, which will pass through the back of the throat and go up into the nose, and there, they will be felt by the olfactory mucous membrane which is at the very top. nasal cavities. For example, when you have a cold, you no longer have any taste when it is often because you have no more sense of smell.

  • What are the main roles of smell for a child?

The role of smell for children is greatly underestimated. Even if they are not taught, they have a natural curiosity that makes them use all the senses. There are dominant senses, but we realize that in a non-conscious way, they are quite capable of registering the smell of the mother, the family, etc. It is also used to find one's bearings in the environment. . But the main role is to say whether it is good or not.

  • How to stimulate the sense of smell in children?

Only exercise can stimulate. At first, when they are presented with scented products, they don't know what to do with them, they put them in their mouths, in their ears. But when they understood that it had to be put under their noses, the next time, they start again. It's a virtuous circle. It encourages their curiosity.

  • Are there predilections for having a good "nose"? Or does it have to work?

It is very difficult to say if there are people who are efficient on the olfactory level. We meet perfumers who say that it is a lot of work to reach their skills. There is no particular method, training is enough.

  • Why is the sense of smell a forgotten sense at school?

It's probably a cultural issue. That is to say that in our Western civilization, for a very long time we have depreciated, even forgotten, the sense of smell. We notice when we visit isolated populations, that some really have an olfactory culture. So it is possible that we had it, only we could not continue to cultivate it.

  • What does My Artist's Perfume make you think of?

The seaside and the sun. I really like this kind of succession. An air of vacation, it must be said.

My artist perfume