Grasse has been home to a prospering perfume industry since the end of the 16th century. Over two-thirds of France's natural aromas for both perfume and food flavourings are produced here.
The unique microclimate is perfect for flower farming and twenty-seven tonnes of jasmine alone is harvested in Grasse annually.
Most importantly, it is home to some of the oldest 'parfumeries' in the world, no wonder then that Grasse is internationally recognised as the World Capital of Perfume!
Grasse - The World Capital of Perfume
Lying in the hills north of Cannes, in the Alpes-Maritimes department, sits the medieval town of Grasse. In the warm temperate air, small colourful cafes, brasseries and shops blend with russet-hued villas that are embellished with every colour of the Provençal palette.
Among the town’s steep, winding, cobblestone streets, gift shops sell pastel french soaps, fragranced candles, cosmetics and of course - perfume. No small wonder, because for centuries, Grasse has been considered to be the world capital of perfume.
What Grasse does best is to make things smell good, but remarkably, its place in the history of perfume is one that began with a foul odour. In medieval times, the town was home to a thriving leather industry, but the tanning process was so pungent it made the air smell very bad. Of course, this did not please the glove wearing nobility, until one day, a Grasse tanner presented a pair of scented leather gloves to Catherine de Medici, the queen of France. She was seduced by the gift and an industry was born.
Grasse is warm and sufficiently inland to be sheltered from the sea air and there is an abundance of water creating a unique microclimate - perfect for the flower growing industry. In this medieval town and its environs, the combination of rich fertile soil, sun and ideal temperatures nurture the rose, jasmine, lavender, myrtle, wild mimosa and other flowers that were the genesis of the French perfume industry in the 16th century.
Grasse is especially known for its jasmine, and the fragrant May rose, a pale pink flower that blooms in May. Unsurprisingly, both flowers are at the heart of more than a just a few famous fragrances, including Chanel’s breath-taking No.5.
Every year the town exuberantly celebrates both of these fragrant blossoms with two magnificent festivals and to this day, in and around Grasse, Dior, Hermès and Chanel all grow jasmine and May roses in protected flower fields.
Three big historic ‘parfumeries’ in Grasse have museums there; Galimard, Molinard and Fragonard. They each offer tours, perfume workshops and fragrance products. Grasse is also home to the prestigious Grasse Institute of Perfumery, which offers a number of levels of perfume-making instruction, including a nine-month immersion experience that accepts only 12 students each year.
Throughout history, many of France’s top parfumiers or 'noses' have trained in Grasse, learning to distinguish over 2,000 different kinds of scent and to creatively and expertly blend them into some of the world’s most famous and desired fragrances.
Grasse’s legendary influence and relevance in the perfume industry has remained unmatched since the end of the 16th century. Its history, the quality of its essential oils and fragrances and the creative expertise of the 'parfumiers' who have lived and worked here have made it the centre of the French perfume industry, and that's why it's now universally recognised as the perfume capital of the word.
Marseille soaps have been produced by French artisan craft master soap makers using traditional methods for over 600 years.
Uniting the rich organic produce of Provence with natural and ecological values, they create exquisite soaps with exceptional skin care properties.
Here you can discover their heritage and find out why they are internationally recognised as some of the best soaps in the world.