Grasse Pictures Guide, France

Grasse Town overview, France

Grasse, Côte d’Azur, France; looking over La Plaine de Grasse, where roses used to grow in their thousands.

Grasse Tourism

Once tiny and awaft with aromas, Grasse is now hulking, cramped and pungent with diesel fumes. A hilly place crowded with expatriates dreaming of a quaint, semi-rural home, Grasse is not much of a tourist attraction. It’s one of those sad places with a magical name but an ambience that has slipped away while no one was looking and the town planners were out to lunch.

Still, tourists keep on coming as it’s only 20 minutes or so from Nice or Cannes, the small old town area is of some interest and the perfumeries do a good job of freely entertaining and educating while later extracting €uros for minute, smelly bottles.

convenient car park - for visiting the cathedral or old town or even visiting a perfume factory

Grasse’s most convenient car park – for visiting the cathedral or old town or even visiting a perfume factory – is under these tired tourists.

Grasse's Fragonard perfume factory, France

Grasse’s famous, historic Fragonard perfume factory, with free museum, multilingual tours and golden gift shop.

Hint: if you’re driving to Grasse leave the wheels as soon as possible in one of the undergound parks, trying to find a roadside space is near impossible, not to mention the casual French habit of battering their way into a tight space may cause trouble with the rental agency when they see the dents.

Perfume

Fragonard perfume distillation process, Grasse, France

An English language tour explaining the ancient perfume distillation process.

The diminuitive, admission-free Fragonard museum displays some fine perfume-related artefacts. Among other perfumeries with free tours and museums are Molinard and Galimard.

Grasse has been the centre of the world’s perfume trade since the 18thC due to the fine climate and sheltered habitat that permitted extensive flower farming, though of course these days most perfumes are synthetically produced. Still, two-thirds of France’s flavours and scents are produced here every year and it’s an essential stop for ‘nose’ training.
At the beginning of every August there is a Jasmin Festival (Fête du Jasmin or La Jasminade) involving flowery floats cruising through the narrow streets crewed by nubile maids in who throw flowers into the crowds. The town also hosts free firework displays, parties, music groups and street activities.

Notre Dame du Puy Cathedral

Grasse cathedral, Côte d’Azur France

The city’s main sights are a Saracen Tower, the gate of the Hôtel de Ville (remember, that’s not a hotel! It’s the Town Hall), various perfume museums and the sturdy old Cathedral.

Notre Dame du Puy Cathedral, interior nave, Grasse, France

Cathedral interior nave.

Grasse Cathedral possesses three grand works by Rubens, easy to access and free to view.

There are a couple of excellent golf courses nearby, as well as skiing in season at Greoliers or fine walks, such as around the hilltop village of Gourdon or France’s Grand Canyon, the Verdon Gorge.

Although in the Côte d’Azur, Grasse is not on the coast, but provides easy access to classic towns such as Cannes, Nice, St Tropez, and even Monaco, while there are some great beaches just a few minutes drive away.

Getting there

By car, from most cities in France use the A8 autoroute and take exit 42. From Cannes (20 minutes drive) use the direct N2285 carriageway that crosses the A8. Leave the car as soon as possible in a town centre underground car park.
Grasse is 563 miles (900kms) south of Paris.

By train from Nice, Antibes or Cannes.

By bus from Nice (frequent) or Cannes (less frequent).