Grasse is known as the perfume capital of the world. It was here that Channel once upon a time created her classic "No 5". It's said that it is the Cote d'Azur's climate that nurtures the the flowers that thrive here. It is almost as you can feel the scent of orange blossom, jasmine, lavender and roses lingering in the air from the gardens and fields that surround this city.
We visited the Fragonard house belonging to the grand old Fragonard family of Grasse since the 17th century. Here you could see how perfume is made. But the real crowd was in the small shop. Here there was a heavy mix of scents in the air from perfume, soaps and candles. You could if you wished create your very own perfume by mixing different essential oils. In the shop you could get unique perfumes only sold here.
In the past the flower blossoms were laid face down in a lard-smeared tray, then soaked the essence away in alcohol. Today the scents are condensed in large copper stills. Only the essential oils are kept except for rose and orange water that is still kept. The scents are then blended by a professional "nose" who must be able to distinguish some 500 distinct scents and may be able to identify up to 3,000. The products then get to carry the big names of perfume houses like Guerlain, Chanel and Dior. Grasse has set up three factories that create simple blends and demonstrate some of the techniques used in the making of perfume.
There was a Jasmine festival going on as we arrived to Grasse. Everywhere a long the cozy narrow streets you could see these purple and yellow flyers about the festival. They had also set up cables of air diffusers that actually sprayed out Jasmin scent every five minutes or something like that.
We also visited the Musée International de la Perfumerie. Here you could learn about how new perfumes are created as well as getting the general history of Grasse and many of the famous brands. You also get the entire history of perfume making that started almost 4,000 years ago already by the Egyptians. You are guided trough the steps of production. You get to use your own nose at various stations to test the scents of many flowers, spices, and plants used in the making and blending of the perfumes.
It was fun to look at all those famous perfume bottles. They had divided them up into different decades. I recognized bottles that had been favorites of my parents and later on perfumes I had gotten and loved.
Besides perfumes there were also some lovley soap shops like this one. It is really hard to just choose one or two soaps once you enter a place like this shop.
There were also of course all kinds of perfume stores selling their own perfume and brands not found elsewhere like this store. Here you picked your favorite and then you decided on the size of bottle you wanted and they would pour it into your chosen bottle directly from these large glass containers.
I loved Grasse that was a very pretty and lush city. Yes the climate here does seem great. I am sure that I would also thrive here. It is true that everywhere you go there are flowers of different kinds. The inspiration to create new scents is everywhere.My nose really got to practice distinguishing many different smells this day.