Grasse is located in a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department on the French Riviera. The town is considered the world’s capital of perfume. It obtained two flowers in the Concours des villes et villages fleuris contest and was made “Ville d’Art et d’
Grasse is a town on the French Riviera, in the hills north of Cannes. It’s known for its long-established perfume industry, and this heritage is celebrated at the Musée International de la Parfumerie, in the town center. Large perfumeries such as Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard offer tours. Grasse Cathedral, a former Roman Catholic cathedral in the old town, contains many paintings, including some by Rubens.
Grasse, France: The world’s capital of perfume
Grasse wasn’t always known for perfume. In the Middle Ages, it was famous for leather tanning and leather products. Which means it still smelled, but really bad – as did the gloves that went out to the nobility. Then a local tanner, one Jean de Galimard, came up with the idea of masking the noxious odor with the scent of flowers.
In this medieval town and its environs, which are sufficiently inland to be sheltered from the sea air, a confluence of soil, sun and temperature nurtured the rose, jasmine, lavender, myrtle, wild mimosa and other flowers that were the genesis of the French perfume industry in the 17th century. Grasse is especially known for its fragrant May rose, the pale pink flower that blooms in May, and jasmine. Both flowers are at the heart of more than a few famous fragrances, including Chanel’s breathtaking star, No. 5.
To this day, in and around Grasse, Dior, Hermès and Chanel all grow May roses and jasmine in protected flower fields. Every year the town exuberantly celebrates both of these fragrant blossoms with two festivals, and just this year Dior re-established the famous Château de la Colle Noire, Christian Dior’s former residence in Grasse.
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