Grasse, Alpes-Maritimes

Grasse  is a town in the Alpes-Maritimes department  on the French Riviera. The town is considered as the world’s capital of perfume. It obtained two flowers in the Concours des villes et villages fleuris contest and was made “Ville d’Art et d’Histoire” (town of art and history).

Grasse’s main attraction is the Cathedral, dedicated to Notre Dame du Puy and founded in the 11th century. In the interior, are three works by Rubens and one by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, a French painter native of the town.

Other sights include:

  • Saracen Tower, standing at 30 m.
  • monumental gate of the Hôtel de ville.
  • Fragonard Museum, established in 1921.
  • International Museum of Perfume
  • Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Provence
  • Church of Placassier, built in 1644

Grasse has had a prospering perfume industry since the end of the 18th century. Grasse is the center of the French perfume industry and is known as the world’s perfume capital (la capitale mondiale des parfums). Many “noses” (or, in French, “Les nez” (plural)/”Le nez” (singular)) are trained or have spent time in Grasse to distinguish over 2,000 kinds of scent. It produces over two-thirds of France’s natural aromas (for perfume and for food flavourings). This industry turns over more than 600 million euros a year. Grasse’s particular microclimate encouraged the flower farming industry. It is warm and sufficiently inland to be sheltered from the sea air. There is an abundance of water, thanks to its situation in the hills and the 1860 construction of the Siagne canal for irrigation purposes. The town is 350 m (1,148.29 ft) above sea level and 20 km (12 mi) from the Coast (Côte d’Azur). Jasmine, a key ingredient of many perfumes, was brought to southern France by the Moors in the 16th century. Twenty-seven tonnes of jasmine are now harvested in Grasse annually. There are numerous old ‘parfumeries’ in Grasse, such as Molinard, Fragonard and Galimard, each with tours and a museum.

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