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