The French perfume industry started in Grasse in the 16th century as an extension of the glove industry.
Grasse had been a flourishing leather and tanning center since the 13th century. When perfumed gloves became fashionable, the town provided them, and when the leather business faded away, the perfume became king.
Grasse was ideal because of the sunshine and micro-climate that facilitated the growth of the most delicate flowers.
By the 17th century, perfumers and apothecaries began settling here, and in 1729, the perfumers published their official statutes.
The industrial side of the perfume business is located in the countryside and villages surrounding Grasse. The perfume industry now relies more on the chemical process than on flowers, and there are hundreds or thousands of products in our daily lives, other than soap and perfume, that require a "scent".
Some of the ancient factories, now abandoned, can be seen along the southern edges of the old town, recognizable by the high, brick smokestacks for their distilleries.
The public side of the perfume business can be seen through guided visits of the principal "parfumeries". The visits are free, show the process of making perfume, include their own little museums, and finish in the sales room where you can obtain their products. Brochures and product price lists are often available from the parfumeries.
- 60, Bvd Victor Hugo
- Tel: (33) 493 36 01 62; Fax: (33) 493 36 03 91