The adorably pretty French town of Grasse, just north of Cannes and an easy drive from Nice, is a very popular day-trip destination for visitors and locals vacationing in the French Riviera region. This is no surprise at all.
Proudly the perfume capital of the world, but unofficial, Grasse is where many fragrances come from. The town offers a brilliant chance for visitors from far and near, to develop one of the most under-rated sense experiences and to be alive and smell the goodness. If you are a perfume buff, this place will be a paradise for you.
Grasse also has a global museum for the art of perfume production. Three perfumeries to tour, and farms where nice-smelling flowers are gathered for fragrances. When you are not mixing a signature scent in laboratories, you could fiddle around Grasse’s costume and art museums or spend time out.
Before you know it, you could be on a Riviera beach, hundreds of meters up in a perched village or deep beneath in a cave.
Here Are Some Things to do in Grasse:
Learn about perfumery at Musée International de la Parfumerie
As earlier stated, Grasse is the birthplace of French perfumery. Many raw materials for these fragrances are grown in flower farms raised by the town’s microclimate and its unusual supply of water for the area. May rose, violet, jasmine, orange blossom, and tuberose are all grown locally.
The town’s museum displays the tactfulness, polished over the centuries that goes into Grasse’s perfumes. When you visit, you can monitor the origins of the perfume industry in the town, and how it was connected to historic trade and works like the Siagne Canal.
Wander in the Old Town of Grasse
When the essence of may roses, lavender, and jasmine are becoming a tad much, it might be a cue that you should seize the chance to get lost around the panoramic streets of the city. Compared to some French towns in the south of the country, Grasse’s Old Town is a bit rural in parts but definitely alluring.
Rue Jean Ossola is the major highlight of the Old Town, from where different stairways and alleys lead off. However, do not miss a walk from Aux Aires down Rue Amiral de Grasse. While wandering, you can indulge in a small retail therapy at the artisan shops, clothing stores, and antique dealers.
It is always a great idea to add to your Old Town strolls with a tasty lunch. There are many restaurants with interesting menus and options. If you are a vegetarian, many places serve a wide range of vegetarian options at a great value. Les Delicatesses de Grasse, located at 7 Rue Marcel Journet, offers a nice French Ambience with native cheese, wine, and meat. And if you are short on cash, Le Croissant Rose, located at 34 Rue Jean Ossola, is the perfect spot for something plain but filling.
Alternatively, you can go for an expansive meal option if you have the cash. La Bastide St-Antoine, which doubles as a restaurant and a hotel, is the place to be.
See the Notre Dame De Puy
The Notre Dame De Puy is a must-see when you visit Grasse. It is the town’s 1100s cathedral located in a historic side of town. Though the exterior appears a tad mundane, it covers a more lush interior that contains about three paintings by Fragonard and the iconic Baroque artist Rubens.
Thereafter, wander to the small patch of grass at Traverse St Martin, with deckchairs to relax in the shade (you will see a small coffee truck there). You can take in the views over the rooftops of both New and Old Grasse from the viewpoint opposite.
Make your Own Perfume in Grasse
What wine is to the Loire Valley is what perfume is to the beautiful town of Grasse. There are workshops in town that offer to teach the art of perfume making. In such a class, a professional perfumer will take lessons to take visitors deeper into the creative process in making their own perfume.
Apart from the terrific chance to get personal with the tactfulness of a person who designs perfumes for brands and people, it is interesting that everyone goes home with a bottle of their own creation. A perfume class can be done at any of the three perfumeries in the town. But visitors can book their classes in advance as they are well-known and come with limited slots.
Here are the Best Options for Perfume Classes:
Fragonard Perfume Workshop
In this class, attendees will be making their own perfume for about 90 minutes before joining a guided tour for 30 minutes. This class can be as expensive as €60 per attendee, but everyone goes home with a 100 ml bottle of their fragrance. Children under 12 are not permitted to visit.
Molinard Design Your Own Fragrance
This class is a one hour workshop that costs as high as €70 per participant. Everyone will receive a 50ml bottle of their own creation as well as a 10% discount on any perfume bought at the gift shop.
A Private Perfume Creation Class
If you want a more personalized session, this private class is all you need. After the class, you will leave with a 75 ml bottle.
Le Petit Parfumeur
The classes earlier mentioned do not have options for children under the age of 12. Therefore ‘little perfumers’ is a 30 minutes class for children between 3 and 10 years-old at Molinard. The little ones will go home with a 10 ml bottle each.
If you are pressed for time, and your budget is small to enroll in any of the above classes, both Molinard and Fragonard have shorter and cheaper classes as low as €30 per person. This includes a 20-30 minute guided trip to making a fragrance (12ml or 30ml).
See Jean-honoré Fragnonard Paintings
The popular painter was born in 1732. He would return later to the town while the French capital was gripped by the Revolution. Even though many tourists would think that he had something to do with the town’s perfume industry, they are wrong. But there is a popular perfumerie bearing his name. Eugene Fuchs founded it but honored the painter’s connection to the town.
About 12 of Fragonard’s songs (the biggest collection of his art outside the Louvre Museum) are displayed at the Jean-Honore Fragonard Villa-Museum, hosted in a nice 1600s’ house near the Fragonard Perfume factory. Entry tickets could cost as low as 2 euros, and this pass gives you entry to the Museum of the Art and History of Provence, which is a few minutes away.
Where to stay in Grasse
There are a few options if you plan to spend a night or two in the town. They are located in the historic center.
Here are Some Nice Hotels to Stay in Grasse:
For a traditional French experience and romantic encounter, this is a cracking option. Savor breakfast with the sight of the sun-soaked balcony, while there are adorable little touches in the entire 1500s’ house to display the historical credential of the town.
Best Western PLUS Elixir
Located miles from the Old Town, this comfy and chic hotel has a pool and great facilities that will make your stay worthwhile.
Moulin Sainte Anne
One of the town’s most popular options, this nicely restored B&B is located in an old olive mill. It has large rooms and a pool- fitting for relaxation after a day of sightseeing or doe lazy mornings.
The perfect choice if you want to have a comfortable and clean, but plainer room in the historic center spot for a while. With free breakfast and general kitchen available to guests, it is a wonderful choice for those who want to cook their own meals and do not have a vehicle.
Bear in mind that in the summertime, accommodation in Grasse is in high demand; therefore, booking in advance is important. The Grasse Jasmine Festival is organized in August’s first weekend.
Tour Parfumerie Fragonard
Indulge your nose at the free tour of the Fragonard perfumery and outlet. It also has an imposing presence in the city. Visitors will take a tour of the place, adding to what they have learned at Grasse’s perfume museum, seeing how the scents are bottled and where they are distilled.
They will also find a large emporium where a lot of things can be bought. And if they want more of fragrances, they can sign up in advance for a workshop at Fragonard. The class will last for about 90 minutes, where an experienced perfumer teaches the method and structure of perfume (head, heart, and base).
Appreciate Nature at Domaine de la Royrie
The town also has the perfect environment for olive cultivation, and ancient cultures are as lush as flower farms on the hillside and plateaux that surrounds the town. Planted by the monks in Lerins Abbey in the 15th-century, the hillside Domaine de Royrie is an olive grove that has lots of venerated trees, blossoming olives, and well-maintained soil. Upon visit, visitors will learn how everything is done there.
In the estate are also small houses where plantation peasants lived and a vegetable garden. At the tour’s end, Lionel Brault, the tour owner, will conduct a tasting session. In the session, visitors will learn the fragrances and intricate flavors of Domaine de la Royrie’s popular oils as they would a nice wine.
Things To Do In Grasse – Summary
Whether in the summer or winter, Grasse is the place to be in Southern France. On your next visit to the French Riviera, you must visit Grasse, especially if you are big on perfumes and fragrances. It is just one of the many things this ravishing town has to offer.