You know the name Grasse, don’t you? Have you read or seen “The Perfume” by Patrick Süskind? Or have you ever been interested in perfume? Then you definitely stumbled across that name. But have you already been there? Or are you wondering if you should go?
A clear YES, let’s go to Grasse!
Grasse is located north of Cannes in the hills and is often called the “world capital of perfume”. In the past, Grasse was home to the tanner trade. In the 17th century, it became fashionable to perfume leather gloves. So the city shifted to the production of perfume. And you can still convince yourself of this at every corner today.
Perfume production in Grasse
At the Musée International de la Parfumerie in the city centre, you can learn all about the history of perfume. The major perfumeries such as Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard still exist and offer guided tours. But that’s not all: you can also create your own perfume under guidance! What fun! The ingredients for your finished perfume are stored so you can always reorder it again.
The old town of Grasse
Grasse consists of an old town centre, where the alleys are so narrow that one can only stroll through on foot, and a rather typical southern French town around it. Since Grasse is also a junction from where the main roads go in all directions, but especially into the mountains, there is always quite a bustle here. But as I said: in the old town only pedestrians. And lots of shops.
But I think there are some things here that you can’t find anywhere else. The shops offer more regional or Italian specialities – there is this one shop that only has biscuits! Delicious… Many, really extremely many perfumeries, a few antique shops, a few opticians… If you are looking for big brands, you will be disappointed here. But that’s what makes Grasse so attractive to me. Here you can be surprised by local producers.
While strolling so happily through the old town, you will eventually notice that you tend to walk upwards. At the highest point, you can expect the cathedral – where I was unfortunately not in yet, because so far always weddings took place – and a great view over the plain to Cannes and in particularly good weather far over the Mediterranean Sea. In the church, there are supposed to be numerous paintings to visit, including a few works by Rubens! But as already said: during my visits, there were always celebrations in the church.
Napoleon and Grasse
There’s one thing left and that’s Napoleon. From his exile on Elba, he set off for Paris with his army in 1815. After crossing the Mediterranean he landed in Golfe-Juan near Antibes and from there he covered 335 km to Grenoble in just a seven-day march. This route is now known as route napoléon and also passes through Grasse. You can easily recognize it by Napoleon’s coat of arms, the eagle. Those who like hiking can follow parts of the road. But in any case, one can marvel for a short moment, especially at the view over the plain that Napoleon and his army achieved at that time.
I would recommend a trip to Grasse at any time. And after learning the theory of perfume creation and perhaps even practising it in a course, you can take a trip to the gardens of the International Perfume Museum in Mouans Sartoux and learn which plants provide the raw materials for the perfumes and how they are processed. Afterwards, you spent an informative and, above all, fragrant day and deserve a trip to the sea.