Travel: Fragonard in Fragrance Town– Grasse, France.
For the love of fragrance god, I cannot imagine going to France without stopping by Grasse. I heard my professor talked about it, I read about it in books, I have finally had the chance to visit the holy fragrance town, Grasse, this summer.
Grasse is a town located in southern France, about an hour away from Cannes. It is considered the world’s capital of perfume. Grass has had a prospering perfume industry since the end of the 18th century; many perfumers (including my idol Jean Claude Ellena) are trained or have spent time here to distinguish over 2000 kinds of scent. Grass produces over two-thirds of France’s natural aromas for both perfume and food flavorings. There are numerous old “perfumeries” in Grasse, such as Galimard, Molinard and Fragonard, each with tours and a museum. I had only one day to spend in Grasse, so I only made it to the International perfume Museum and Fragonard Parfumerie.
Eugene Fuchs, an entrepreneur with a special passion for perfume, opened Parfumerie Fragonard in 1926– he opened up his own perfumery based on the novel concept of selling perfumery products directly to the tourists who were beginning to discover the French Rivera’s charms. Fuchs chose to name it after the famous Grasse-born painter, Jean-Honoré Fragonard as a tribute to both the town of Grasse and to the refinement of 18th-century arts. After a few succeeding generations, Fragonard is still one of the main parfumeries in Grasse for tourist to witness (and smell) the art of perfume making.
Besides a fragrance museum in the parfumerie, Fragonard also offers tours every 30 minutes (with different languages) to take visitors through the perfume factory. We were very lucky to catch the English tour the moment we arrived. The lady told us a little bit of the company history, and showed us how they arrange the flowers for the scent absorption (using animal fat, which I didn’t know before), the distillation and the extraction using volatile solvents! I have to say, even as a person who studies fragrance, it is very cool to see all the equipment and processes of perfume making in the factory.
At the other side of the factory, they also have their fragrance boutique set up with all their fragrances and products. I was hooked on the one called Belle Cherie and got a bottle of that, but there are many more scents that are equally irresistible. They also have a huge selection of home scents, soaps and now even cosmetics if you’re not a fragrance person or if you want to bring home some gift items…. It is not a place to go if you don’t have self-control.. I’m just saying.
Fragonard also has a few locations outside of Grasse, they don’t all have factories like the store in Grasse, but they are still great to visit. Sadly they don’t have any stores outside of France yet…. For those who wants to have a whiff of Fragonard’s fragrances, you’ll have to make a trip out to France I guess!!