"Grasse: Perfume, Napoleon, and Madame Guillotine" Top 5 Page for this destination Grasse by NiceLife

Grasse Travel Guide: 55 reviews and 137 photos

Scent Centre

Grasse is the capital of the French perfume industry , and home to the House of Fragonard, who in 1926 purloined the name from a famous French painter, Jean-Honoré Fragonard. The artist was born in Grasse and produced, as well as landscape and portraiture, erotic pictures and of mythology in the Rococo style of excess, well suited to an association with perfume.

The Fragonard factory and laboratory is located in Eze village, but Grasse is their showroom and their museum of perfume-making and accessories. Here you can marvel at how many trillion flower petals have to be crushed to make just one squoosh of the stinky stuff, and understand why it costs so much.

Many of the famous designer label perfumes are manufactured here on their behalf , and the main ingredients of rose and jasmine are grown in the surrounding area. Other large perfume houses in Grasse include Molinard, Galimard, and Mane, so, if you wish, you can go on a "perfume crawl" - and arrive home smelling like Turkish brothel (whatever that smells like - how would I know?)

House of Fragonard

Perfume, perfume and yet more perfume. Grasse's main tourist attraction is the perfume houses. You can sample and smell and buy, and even have your own unique concoction made up exclusively for yourself. ("Yes, ladies. He's wearing Trubshaw. Trubshaw for men"- cut to wild stallions pounding through the surf - "Because he's worth it."

The bottles are probably the most attractive part of this smelly business. Somewhere among the chemists and "noses" are the designers of these lavish bottles. The art is the way you shape the glass to seductively hold the precious liquid.

But if you really want to take the romance out of perfume, study how its made.(You may want to skip this section) In spring and summer, roses and jasmine are picked and rapidly transferred to large vats, where they are washed in solvent to capture the essential oils, resins and waxes from the petals. The solvent evaporates to leave behind a solid 'concrete'. When the essential oils are required, alcohol is used to extract them from 'concrete', leaving behind the purest form of floral scent - known as 'absolute'. These are then blended to create perfumes to which the marketing industry adds "branding and packaging" to transform it into "Dior Addict" or "Chanel No 5"

Old Grasse

Perfume is Grasse's trump card but a few interesting historical features apart from that are to be found within the confines of old Grasse, mostly related to Napoleon, his relatives, his generals and his admirals.

The best way to see Grasse is from a distance. Wander up and away to see the signature cathedral tower on the crest of the town, which rises 350 metres above sea level, and out 15 km east to Cannes and the mediterranean beyond.

Closer inspection finds a town a little down at heel,doing its best to smarten up but still some way to go.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Good if you are interested in perfume
  • Cons:Not much good if you are not interested in perfume
  • In a nutshell:An interesting excursion for perfume lovers?
  • Last visit to Grasse: Jul 2005
  • Intro Updated Sep 20, 2005
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Reviews (12)

Comments (6)

  • KristaB's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    They believed (some still do) that bathing is bad for one's health. I hope to get to Galimard and make my own perfume, even though I do bathe regularly. Lovely pages, thank you.

  • breughel's Profile Photo
    Jul 7, 2008 at 10:51 AM

    You are right about the dangers of Grasse. It is one of the small towns with the highest degree of criminality according to a recent review in "Le Figaro". I much appreciated your sarcastic comments. Excellent tips on all the Côte d'Azur.

  • xuessium's Profile Photo
    Dec 8, 2006 at 5:21 AM

    I was expecting a fragrance house visit as a to-do...they do not open doors to the visiting public, mate?

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Mar 31, 2006 at 7:24 AM

    Like your style! My sort of page - where are you going to take me next? leyle

  • La_Holandesa's Profile Photo
    Oct 20, 2005 at 2:08 PM

    Tres Bien! Grasse is so nice!! to drive up to the hill and so on...been there also to see and smel the parfumes. u went to see napeleon's sister naked ? i went and saw someone naked heheheh Lol! your funny! salut Anita

  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo
    Sep 17, 2005 at 8:11 AM

    I dunno. U look pretty young and healthy from my viewpoint. Church doesn't look too shabby either. Nice page ( no double pun intended).

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