July 31, 2017

Grasse: Perfume Capital of the World

The town of Grasse isn't quite as picturesque as many others along France's Riviera coast but it is considered the capital of the world's billion dollar perfume industry. I spent a fragrant morning touring the local factory of Parfumerie Fragonard, one of the oldest in Grasse, to learn about the history of perfume and traditional production techniques.

Parfumerie Fragonard, Grasse

The French perfume industry began in Grasse in the sixteenth century when perfumed gloves were made popular by the Queen, Catherine de' Medici. Centuries later, Coco Chanel came to Grasse to create her iconic fragrance, N° 5. It's one of my favourites.

World Map of Key Scents

It takes almost one ton of jasmine flowers to produce just one litre of essence.

Fragrant Jasmine

Perfume Distiller

Perfumed Soap Eggs in the Factory

Once the 20-minute guided tour of the factory was over we sampled several different perfumes in the gift shop. On a previous visit to France I'd purchased Étoile, which had been a favourite among the ladies in our tour group, and it was a bestseller again. (I find the scent similar to Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue.) My only purchase this time was a colourful tote bag for 10€.

Fragonard Gift Shop

Perfumed Soaps Packaged for Sale

In 2017 Fragonard Celebrates the Peony

My Favourite Fragonard Scent, Étoile

Fragonard Tote Bags

When everyone was content with the purchases they'd made we took a short walking tour of Grasse, including the Museum of Provençal Costume and Dress; Cathédral Notre-Dame-du-Puy with three Rubens paintings; and a view terrace behind the cathedral.

The Town of Grasse

Narrow Laneway in Grasse

Museum of Provençal Costume and Jewelry

World War I Monument

Cathédral Notre-Dame-du-Puy

Cathedral Doors

Cathedral Interior

Cathedral Bell Tower

Brass Pavement Plaque with the Grasse Coat of Arms

The Old Town of Grasse

Window Railing

Pigeonnier or Dovecote

View from Place du 24-Août

The novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by German author Patrick Süskind is partly set in Grasse. The book was also made into the 2006 film starring Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman.


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