Our visit to Grasse – The perfume capital of France

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Our visit to Grasse – The perfume capital of France. We had the most amazing visit to Grasse towards the end of our stay in the South of France. On the first day we visited the Musee International de la Perfumerie in Grasse. The museum is comprised of four floors dedicated to perfume. It starts with the cultivation of the flowers, and how the perfume is made. Then moves on to how the industry developed over the years including the methods used to market the perfume.

Exquisite perfume bottles

On one of the floors, there are examples of exquisite perfume bottles created by Baccarat and Lalique. A whole floor is dedicated to how the industry is connected to fashion. There are photographs showing many well-known couturiers such as Chanel and Dior who created their own perfumes.

The whole museum was truly an olfactory journey through time.

Perfume bottles in the Museum

Some of the stunningly beautiful perfume bottles created over the years.

On the second day of our stay we visited The Fragonard perfume museum.

Fragonard was founded in 1926 by Eugène Fuchs, in one of the oldest factories in the city, originally built by perfumer Claude Mottet in 1841. The firm is named after the local painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard, the son of the perfumer at the court. The first Parisian Fragonard boutique was opened in 1936.

A woman bathing in the 18th Century

A lady taking a bath. Baths were not taken very frequently in those days and were only available to the wealthy. This is one of the reasons that the stronger perfumes were popular during this period. These days as we wash frequently we don’t need our perfumes to last so long. That is one of the reasons that Eau de perfume has become more popular.

Perfume travelling case in Fragonard museum

The above photo illustrates a perfume/cosmetic box. Wealthy women in the 19th century used these cosmetic boxes when they travelled. It must have been very heavy. Can you imagine carrying this around with you? Our current way of packing looks very minimal in comparison.

Costume and jewellery museum

We then visited the Costume and jewellery museum. Costumes from the 18th to late 19th centuries are displayed in the former residence of the Marquis de Cabris. I am always amazed at how much taller we are these days. All the costumes were really petite.

Costumes in the Fragonard museum

During this period many of the materials were imported from the orient. You can see influences from India and the far east in the colour and design of many of the fabrics.

Costumes in the Fragonard museum
Jewellery in the Fragonard museum

We also saw some exquisite jewellery from the same period.

Needless to say that we visited the Fragonard shop after our tour of the museum. There were so many fragrances to choose from that it was slightly overwhelming. I finally chose “Belle de nuit”. I also bought some lovely body lotions, soaps and a diffuser. All of which will make excellent gifts for friends and family. MarksandSpencer offers a good range of Fragonard gift sets and diffusers. You can also find some available on Etsy.

Our visit to Grasse – The perfume capital of France

Parasolls in Grasse

I am not sure if these stunning umbrellas in the narrow streets of the old town were for decoration or to provide shade.

It was a very hot day and by 1.30 pm we were beginning to wilt so we stopped for lunch at a fantastic restaurant Le Fleur de Lys. It is very small and tucked away in a side street. The food was delicious. I had one of the best pasta with truffles dishes I have ever eaten. You need to book in advance as it is very popular.

By this stage we were exhausted and went back to rest at our chambres d’hôte un palmier à sa fenêtre (more about that and photos in my next post)

Our chambres d’hôte was exquisitely decorated. I took as many photos as possible. They will be included in a separate post next week. I will also be covering our visit to the Molinard Perfumery factory which we visited on the second day of our visit.

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