Grasse could be easily reached by train from Cannes. The city is considered the world’s capital of perfume as it keeps going on a well-established tradition which goes back to the 17th century.
According to local statistics, each year there are about two million worldwide tourists visiting the perfume factories, the perfume museum and famous perfume shops.
We went to Grasse to visit the Fragonard perfume factory. We visited Molinard and Galimard, the other two famous factories, while spending one day in Èze, a medieval village located on the French Riviera, between Nice and Monaco.
The city of Grasse is spread on a number of hills. The roads climbing towards the hilltop are serpentines. The pedestrians have got the choice of either following the roads or taking the shortcuts, which have been in place for centuries. The shortcuts consist of stairways under the serpentine roads, going straight to the next point. We were proud to climb the first 300 stairs from the train station to the Fragonard factory.
The old city is charming. Although the weather is drier here we did not enjoy too much the walk to the perfume factory because of the hot wind of Provence. Coming from a country where the cold and wet wind is part of our daily routine, feeling a hot wind around us was something unusual.
We visited the Fragonard perfume factory and we were impressed with the technology in place. During the visit, a guide introduced us the ancient perfume technologies of those times. We also saw how they evolved over the past centuries to what is today’s technology.
We also found out more about the perfumes themselves, from the stage of raw materials to the moment when they arrive in a shop. We understood the processes of distillation and enfleurage. Enfleurage actually is the method of capturing the plants’ fragrant components through odourless fats.
We also enjoyed a short walk on the narrow winding streets and stairways of the old Grasse. Fascinating!
The bright daylight as well as the forms, shapes and colours of the Southern France were everywhere.