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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