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Grasse – fragrance history and perfume art

By Hannah Werneth

Over 30 years ago, the capital of fragrances inspired author Patrick Süßkind to write a literary masterpiece about a cruel murderer who was only interested in one thing – the perfect scent. We at PAFORY don’t really have anything else in mind either, but are much more affable in our search for it. The town around which the fascinating events in the novel revolve is a small town away from Canne. We are talking about Grasse.



Grasse as a fragrance capital

Anyone who has ever been near a tannery knows how unpleasant and biting the fumes of this work sting the nose. In the Middle Ages, today’s fragrance capital was best known for its excellent leather – but also notorious for the stench. To make the products more attractive to customers, i.e. less smelly, Galimard, a tanner, used the treasures of Provence. He dipped his gloves in baths of lavender, orange blossom, mimosa and all sorts of other fragrant plants.

Today, master perfumers are successfully trained in the city. They are called „Nez“ (nose) and after 7 years they are able to recognize around 6000 fragrances. Although the raw materials, which in the 17th century were mainly grown directly around Grasse, are now also imported to the perfumers, but about 30 perfume factories in the city prove that Grasse will dethrone no one so quickly, not even Paris.





Grasse is worth a visit in any case. The city is teeming with perfumeries that blend into the maze of old and new buildings like little paradises. In the city, of course, there is the Musée internationale de la Parfümerie, where you can explore everything Grasse has to offer in terms of fragrance history and perfume art. But interesting facts can also be found elsewhere. Almost every factory offers tourist tours, but that’s not all. Those who finally want to call their own distinctive and indeed unique perfume can create one there with expert assistance. Perhaps so one or the other discovers that on him a „Nez“ has been lost.




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See you soon, your PAFORY team 🤍