Grasse: a visit to the capital of perfume!
Not too far from Antibes or Cannes (roughly a 30 minute drive), Grasse is the perfect town to visit on a day out. It has a rich history in perfume-making, and is renowned as the capital of perfume in the world - thanks in part to its jasmine, mimosa, rose, lavender and orange blossom scents.
One of the main perfume houses in Grasse, Fragonard, opens its doors to you in the form of various shops, a museum, and its historical factory ('usine'). The latter comprises a small museum outlining the city's perfume-making history, including how the making of scented leather gloves for royalty promoted the creation of perfumes, and collections of intricate and diverse perfume bottles.
The museum also takes you through the history of the perfume house, named Fragonard after the French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard - not the founder Eugène Fuchs!
But most interestingly, there are also free guided tours to take you through the entire process of perfume-making. From the distillation vessels built to extract essential oils by heating, to the enfleurage technique of infusing flowers in grease on glass frames, you get a taste of how these perfumes were historically made.
After going through the bottling, maceration and filtration rooms, you are invited to become a 'nez' (a master perfume-maker who can discern different scents in their hundreds!) yourself and smell your way through their flagship shop, which offers perfumes, diffusers, and soaps among other things. This year, the Fragonard 'nez' chose the passion flower as their flower of choice, and you can discover this range here as well.
The location of the factory museum is also perfect to enjoy the Provençal houses of Grasse and its green landscape. Don't forget to grab lunch afterwards in the adjacent Café des Musées, which serves delicious food in a beautiful setting.