Grasse, France is a charming town situated between the sea and the mountains in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Renowned for its status as the perfume capital of the world, Grasse is a fabulous stop along the coast to take in some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes, rich history, and fragrant scents (bien sûr).
The history of Grasse dates back to the pre-Roman era. The town was first known as “Gras,” meaning “wild grass,” due to the abundance of herbs and flowers that grow in the surrounding hills. This undoubtedly became a principal reason that the town would become the perfume capital of the world beginning in the 18th century. With plenty of natural resources found in the surrounding area like lavender, jasmine, and roses, it was only natural that it would serve as the ideal location to produce high-quality fragrances and churn out a thriving perfume industry.
Read on for our guide to Grasse, arguably the best-smelling town of the South of France!
What to Do
One of the most popular attractions in Grasse is the Fragonard Perfume Museum, which offers an immersive experience into the world of perfume-making – from the harvesting of flowers to the blending of scents. Visitors learn about the history of perfume production in Grasse and watch as skilled artisans create fragrances using traditional methods.
At the factories of Fragonard, Galimard, and Molinard you have the opportunity to take a workshop where you can create your own signature fragrance! From haute couture practices to natural extract additions, you’ll surely be inspired to concoct a perfect scent that is uniquely yours.
The Fragonard family also has a remarkable collection of antique Provençal costumes and jewelry, showcasing only the best and most traditional patterns and techniques from the 18th and 19th centuries. The Costume Museum is well worth a visit for anyone interested in fashion.
If you’re sniffing for more, the Musée International de la Parfumerie exhibits the history of perfume production alongside displays of antique perfume bottles and artifacts in a 17th-century mansion.
You can also take a tour of the garden and smell the origin of the fragrance straight from the source. The gardens are particularly beautiful in the spring and summer, when the flowers are in full bloom.
Beyond perfume, another must-see in Grasse is the Notre-Dame-du-Puy Cathedral, which dates back to the 11th century. This gorgeous Gothic cathedral features stunning stained-glass windows and a peaceful courtyard, making it a great spot for quiet contemplation. Visitors can also climb the bell tower for panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Where to Stay
La Bastide Saint Antoine
For a luxurious experience, the Bastide Saint Antoine is a fabulous 5-star hotel overlooking Grasse. The 16 rooms and suites named after the picturesque villages in the Grasse region encourage you to discover the diverse surroundings. This elegant hotel also offers a gourmet restaurant, and a stunning outdoor pool.
Skylark Bed & Breakfast
Located close to the International Perfume Museum, Skylark Bed & Breakfast provides free breakfast featuring local cuisine, a terrace, and a garden. The contemporary “Loft Style” home is perfectly situated in the tranquil “Quartier des Parfumeurs” offering easy access to all the activities in the historic town.
Hotel Le Bellaudière
For a modest room with a gorgeous terrace view, the Hotel Le Bellaudière is a nice value option that is a short drive from the town center. In this bucolic and atypical setting, discover a 16th and 19th century bourgeois house where the great impressionist painter Auguste Renoir stayed.
What to Eat
As with most regions in France, food is an important part of the culture in Grasse. The town is known for its use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients and traditional cooking methods.
One of the most famous dishes in Grasse is the socca, a thin, crispy crepe made from chickpea flour. Socca is typically served as a snack or appetizer, and is best enjoyed fresh from the oven.
Another local specialty is the tourte de blettes, a sweet and savory pie made with Swiss chard, raisins, and pine nuts. This hearty dish is often served as a main course and pairs well with a glass of local red wine.
For those with a sweet tooth, the tarte tropézienne is a must. This creamy, custard-filled cake was first created in nearby Saint-Tropez, but has become a popular dessert throughout the region.
Grasse is a beautiful and fascinating destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in perfume, history, nature, or simply enjoying good food and wine, Grasse is the perfect place to experience the best of Provence.
P.S. Check out the MFCH Boutique for exclusive products from Fragonard!
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