Here Comes the Chanel No. 5 Train

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Any country that could invent the bidet obviously has a penchant for vaguely ludicrous cosmetics, and so it came to pass Friday that the Parisian subway system received the first application of a new perfume. The scent, named Madeleine (after one of the more notoriously fetid stops on the Metro) is to be splashed throughout the subway system over the next few weeks in order to combat the unwholesome odors that have permeated the city's underground since its creation in 1900.

The hope is that Madeleine's bouquet of "countryside, woods, flowers and fruit," as Metro officials described it, will be more agreeable to commuters than the customary combination of industrial fumes and assorted human waste. That distinction apparently did not apply to Madeleine's precursor, Francine, an ill-fated odor that generated more complaints than praise when it was floated in the early 1990s. Five years in the making, Madeleine was designed to be "sweet rather than violent," a scent "that lingered for two weeks and that suggested a feeling of cleanliness and well-being rather than of filthiness being covered up," according to Metro director Jacques Rapoport. Pepe LePew would approve.