Grasse, The Perfume Heaven


It is known that in Grasse the most costly and appreciated variety is cultivated, Jasminum Grandiflorum, with the most delicate scent and whose production is reserved for the most exclusive brands. The Grasse jasmine is the only one in the secret formula of Chanel N°5.

“In 1921, if you wanted rose or jasmine, the only place you could find it was Grasse,”

Never been there, but heard the sun lits up giant trees and tiled roofs as they pulled into the town. Its 22 miles from Nice, 11 miles from Cannes, Grasse lies on the famous Route Napoleon. ‘The perfume capital of the world’ and despite four centuries as the Queen of Perfume it still rightly deserves this title. The nearby sea and mountains have had a favourable influence, giving the region a pleasant and healthy temperate climate, and the town’s little buildings lend it an easy charm. Wow..

Many of the most popular French perfumes are developed in the town of Grasse located in the south of France. Grasse has a long history of perfume production and today the perfume industry employs hundreds of people in the town. Part of the reason for the success of Grasse as a perfume manufacturer is that its Mediterranean climate in the south enables the cultivation of many different types of flowers which were then used to extract the perfume essence. Although most modern popular French perfumes rely more on chemicals than floral essences today, more often than not the inspiration for a perfume comes from a natural source such as vanilla, rose or lotus.

16th Century, the perfume industry, spawned and developed by two factors, namely, the cultivation of aromatic plants supplying the tanneries with the raw materials required to perfume leather, and the fashion of perfumed gloves introduced by Catherine of Medicis. Perfumery, as an art form and industry, was born in Grasse. And today, it’s economic and tourist heartbeat is fragrances, used for food flavouring, and for perfumes, soaps and cosmetics.

Flowers are everywhere and Nice has the best flower market of all, over 100 market stalls dedicated to flowers. The February Carnival in Nice is famous for its ‘Battle of the Flowers’ where spectators are pelted with flowers and petals by the lavishly decorated floats as they parade through the City. Visitors and tourists to the City can go on a walking tour around various gardens open to the public, visit greenhouses and perfumeries, there are several excellent Museums dedicated to the History of Perfume and the Fragrance Industry that are worth visiting.

‘Parfumerie Molinard’ is the oldest family run business in France. Founded in 1849 in Grasse you can still visit the original factory rooms where perfumed products are still created with loving attention to detail.  The Head Office, factory and museum are in Grasse, the ‘House of Fragrance’ is in Nice. Perfumers to Royalty, Molinard has worked with Baccarat and René Lalique for many years who have created some stunning perfume bottles for Molinard.

Grasse’s main attraction is the Cathedral, dedicated to Notre Dame du Puy and founded in the 11th century. In the interior, are three works by Rubens and one by Jean-Honore Fragonard, a French painter native of the town. There’s also Saracen Tower, standing at 30 m, monumental gate of the Hotel de ville, Fragonard Museum, established in 1921,International Museum of Perfume, Musee d’Art et d’Histoire de Provence, Church of Placassier, built in 1644, PerfumeBronze parfumeur in old Grasse.

The importance of scent in Grasses’ history is brought to life at the Musée International de la Parfumerie – a museum in the town which provides details of the process of perfume manufacture and covers 3000 years of the industry’s history. The museum’s chief treasure is the travel case of Marie Antoinette and the building also houses a greenhouse where the public can experience the all-encompassing, aromatically fragrant plants and flowers growing at first hand.

It is also known that in Grasse the most costly and appreciated variety is cultivated, Jasminum Grandiflorum, with the most delicate scent and whose production is reserved for the most exclusive brands. The Grasse jasmine is the only one in the secret formula of Chanel N°5.

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