How many of us can resist the lure of perfume? Walk into a mall and there they are, with tiny bits of temptation to lead us into emptying our wallets at the source of the tiny glimpse of olfactory euphoria. Well, the craze for olfactory indulgence isn’t recent, without getting into the ancient history of fragrance, let’s step into the origins of the modern perfume industry. France is the cradle of the perfume industry and it all began 300 years ago. Did you know that in the beginning it was used only to make the hands of women smell nice, their leather gloves used to be soaked in perfume. From there it got into getting sold in pretty bottles.
1. Perfume paradise
Mauve fields of heavenly lavender as far as the eye can see that’s the first thing that flashes before the mind’s eye when we say, Provence. That along with splashes of sunshine provided by vivid yellow sunflowers and the comforting shade of olive trees. Heaven is having a picnic under the mighty oaks and chestnut trees flanked by the lavender fields. With its abundance of sweet-smelling flowers and fragrant herbs it could not be anything but the perfume capital of the world and to date, Provence in France is known for perfume production. Here’s where you should be if a perfume is what you live/earn for!
2. Grasse smells sweeter this side
16 kms north of Cannes in southern Provence is the quaint town of Grasse. In addition to the International Museum of Perfume, the top four perfume producers of the world are here. The French perfume industry is at the helm of the global industry with a sales count worth billions of dollars. For history buffs a visit to the perfumery called Fragonard is a must-do. This 18th-century building is located in the heart of the old town of Grasse. Its history starts in 1926 when Eugene Fuchs opened a perfumery and he called it Fragonard as a homage to the renowned painter from Grasse. It has a guided tour that’ll take you through the magical world of perfumes and the various steps it goes through to reach you in a bottle. From flowers to packaging.
3. The tour
The first floor has the Perfume Museum, it’ll give you the history of perfume back in the days to the present day. All with a priceless collection of pictures, vials, bottles, flasks, and documents. Interestingly you can pick up perfumes at factory rates from the museum shop.
4. The Fabrique des Fleurs
Fabriques des Fleurs is a modern factory, located on the outskirts of Grasss, it is surrounded by an exquisite garden of flowers and aromatic herbs used to make perfumes. It was inaugurated in 1986 and state of the art machines for manufacture and packing. The visits to the laboratories and packaging rooms are free and it’s here that all the secrets of perfumery will be revealed to you.
Open every day including Sundays and public holidays and it offers free guided tours throughout the year.