Updated: Sep 30
Our sumptuous classic French soaps immerse you in a sense of Provence every time you bathe, they are long lasting, look and smell beautiful, and leave a heavenly, lingering scent on your skin, but what makes them smell so good?
Simple - they are fragranced with the stunning perfumes and essential oils that could only come from the world-famous town of Grasse.
Yes... have you never wondered where your favourite perfume comes from?
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 that the air smelled rather badly. 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 micro-climate 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 17th 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 or have spent time 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 18th 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 Grasse is now universally recognised as the perfume capital of the word.
So, from Chanel to Dior, and from Lancôme to Yves Saint Laurent or any other of the host of world famous names in perfumery, the chances are that the essential oils and fragrances contained in your favourite perfume, or even the 'nose' behind it are from, or have trained in - Grasse.