Grasse photo grasse0071s.jpg (8 k) Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, is a gateway town to Beyond. To the south, only 15 km away, is the city of Cannes with its yachts, fine-sand beaches and luxury shopping. To the east, about a 30-minute drive away, is Nice, with its international airport, pebble beaches and the bustle of a busy city. Turning inland from Grasse, at zero distance, you have the hills and forests and canyons and rivers of Beyond.

location map for Grasse area map
Dept: Alpes-Maritimes (06)

Also:  | Lost Railways | Route du Mimosa | Route Napoléon |

Nearby: | Antibes Juan-les-Pins 21 km | Auribeau-sur-Siagne 8 km | Le Bar-sur-Loup 10 km | Cabris 6 km | Cannes, France 20 km | Chateauneuf-Grasse 7 km | Draguignan 56 km | Fayence 31 km | Frejus 45 km | Gourdon 14 km | Mouans-Sartoux 8 km | Mougins 10 km | Nice, France 42 km | Opio 8 km | Saint Vallier-de-Thiey 12 km | Le Tignet 9 km | Tourrettes-sur-Loup 20 km | Valbonne 12 km | Vence 16 km |

Hotels near Grasse: | Grasse | 8 km Auribeau-sur-Siagne | 8 km Opio | 8 km Mouans-Sartoux | 9 km Tignet | 10 km Bar-sur-Loup | 10 km Mougins |

Grasse has been a popular tourist town for several centuries, with the smell of flowers and clear air. The altitude of the town, from 300-400 m, and the hills behind give Grasse a fresher climate than the beach during the heat of the summer.

Princess Pauline Bonaparte, the Emperor's sister, spent the winter of 1807-08 in Grasse, recuperating her mental and physical strength. Queen Victoria vacationed through several winters in Grasse, staying at the Rothschild's or at the Grand Hotel.

Napoléon himself passed through Grasse on 2 March 1815, but didn't have time for vacationing.

 Grasse narrow street photo The old town ("vieille ville") is large, old, and extremely interesting. Tiny streets wind forever between the 17th and 18th century buildings, up and down ancient steps, passing through arched tunnels and sometimes opening out onto large squares. Many of the streets aren't as clean as they should be, but still worth a wander.

The principal square near the top of the old town is the Place aux Aires. A pretty, three-tiered fountain splashes in the center and arcades line one long side. Until recently (2004) this was the site of the daily market of flowers and regional foods, now sadly gone. The nearby shops (butchers, bakers, etc.) are still in business.

 Grasse Notre Dame du Puy Somewhere down in the old village a narrow street comes out onto the Place du Petit Puy (and through the archway into Place Godeau) with the 10-11th-century Notre Dame du Puy cathedral (rebuilt in the 17th c.) and its huge 18th century clock tower. Inside the cathedral are three paintings by Rubens, commissioned from the then-unknown artist in 1601 by the Archduke Albert for the Santa Croce di Gerusalemme in Rome, and offered to Grasse in the 19th century. There's also the 1754 painting Christ Washing the Feet of the Apostles by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.

Also in the Place Godeau is 12th-century "Tour de Guet" (watch tower) at the Mairie, which was the Bishop's Palace.

Perfume

The French perfume industry began in Grasse in the 16th century. Have a look at our Perfume page.

Walking Tours

An historical walking tour of Grasse (about 90 minutes) has been laid out by the Office de Tourisme. A free map has information about each numbered site, and numbered panels are located at the appropriate points throughout the old town. Optionally, you can rent a portable CD with an audio description of the tour.

Caves, Grottos

In the porous limestone hills north of Grasse there are a number of holes and grottos for visiting or exploring (with the local spelunking clubs).
Many of the holes are on the Plateau de la Malle, about 4 km north of Grasse, which rises up to the Plateau de Caussols

Favorite Sons

The English writer and actor Dirk Bogarde lived in Le Pigeonnier in the hills of Chateauneuf-Grasse just to the east of Grasse.

History

Name

First record, 11th century

Prehistoric, Roman: There are a number of very ancient artifacts in the region of Grasse: bronze-age and Hallstatt-era tumulus at St-Christophe and megaliths at the Siagne; oppidum at Pey-Loubet and St-Christophe; ruins of a mausoleum and sculpted items at La Paoute; a funerary stela at La Malle (now in the museum).

Medieval: Grasse is a true medieval town that withstood Saracen raids in the 9th century. Grasse was an independent republic in the 12th century, with diplomatic relations with the neighboring city-state republics of Genoa and Pisa. In 1227, the Count of Provence, Raymond Bérenger brought Grasse into his control. It was the Bishopric of Antibes from 1244 to 1790. In 1536, Charles-Quint invaded the city-state of Nice and sacked Grasse, on the order of the governor of Provence. In 1589, the "Ligueurs" layed siege to Grasse and took the town during the Wars of Religion.
During the French Revolution Grasse was the capital of the Var. In 1860, after the County of Nice became a part of France, Grasse was attached to the Alpes-Maritimes.

Office de Tourisme

Tel : 0493 366 666; Fax: 04 93 36 86 36

Web: www.grasse.fr

Email: info@grasse-riviera.com

Dates

Market: Every Sat - Marché, Place aux Herbes
Foires: last Mon. in Feb.; Mondays following St.Marc, St.Michel and St.André
Every April - Grasse-Alpine Auto Rally
Every May - International Rose Festival, for 5 days
Every May - Santo Estello - an annual rendez-vous for protecting the regional languages of langue d'Oc.
Every Aug - Fête du Jamin, for 5 days, with flowered floats
Every Dec - Noël Provençal - animations de rues, foire aux santons, etc.

Museums

Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Provence

This museum of Provençal art and history, located in the old "hôtel particulier" (town house) of the Marquise de Clapier-Cabris, an 18th-century mansion that's also called the Petit Trianon. features archeology and ethnology as well as painting, pottery and history.

Musée International de la Parfumerie

You'll find here information about the entire process of creating perfume, and antique items relating to 3000 years of perfumery. The key treasure is Marie Antoinette's travel case, and there's also a very fragrant greenhouse growing aromatic plants.

Musée Fragonard

The Jean-Honoré Fragonard museum is located in the 17th-century Villa Fragonard where the painter and his family stayed while visiting Grasse in March 1791.

Musée de la Marine - Amiral de Grasse (Navy Museum)

This museum is in the old 18th century Hôtel Pontevès-Morel, at the top of the steps leading down past the pretty little park at the bottom of the Bvd. du Jeu de Ballon (the main street through Grasse). Featured is the career of the Amiral de Grasse who fought actively in America's war of independence, especially in winning the battle of Yorktown.


Olive Oil Mills    (List of Mills - 06)

Rossignol Oil Mill - Moulin à Huile du Rossignol

Location: 41 Chemin des Paroirs

Tel: 0493 701 674, or 0618 188 415

Web: www.moulin-du-rossignol.com

Olive oil and olives available.

Royrie Domaine - Domaine de la Royrie Royrie

Location: 88 Chemin des Haute Ribes

Tel: 0609 866 327

Web: www.royrie.fr

Olive oil available.

Sainte-Anne Oil Mill - Moulin à Huile Sainte Anne

A lovely ancient mill on the road leading out of Grasse to the west. Worth a visit.

Location: 138 Route de Draguignan

Tel: 0493 702 142

Web: www.huilerie-sainte-anne.com

Olive oil available.

Transportation Grasse

Grasse-Nice. The Grasse-Nice bus line pass through Pre-du-Lac, Le Rouret, Roquefort, Villeneuve-Loubet, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Nice Airport and Nice. There are at least 10 busses a day in each direction, 7 days a week.

Local Towns and Villages. The STGA bus line provides service between Grasse and: Antibes, Auribeau-sur-Siagne, Biot, Gare de Biot, Cannes, Magagnosc, Mouans-Sartoux, Mougins, Peymeinade, Le Plan-de-Grasse, Pont du Loup, Plascassier, Sophia Antipolis, Spéracèdes, Le Tignet, Valbonne, and Vallauris.

For Cipières and Gourdon, there's one bus a day, from Mon-Fri, leaving Grasse at 15h30.

Castellane-Grasse-Nice. Bus service is provided once a day, every day (including Sundays) between Castellane, Grasse and Nice.

Bus


Sports

Cycling Tour de France

On the route of the 2009 Tour de France, stage 2, Monaco to Brignoles. The tour passes through the center of Grasse, from East to West, and heads out onto the Route de Draguignan.

Golf

Swim

Hiking

Maps

IGN (1/25,000) #3543 ET "Haute Siagne"

The GR51 Balcony of the Cote d Azur runs through the hills just a short way above Grasse. A shuttle bus from the town goes up to the swimming pool. Around the bend of the road (the N85, Route Napoléon) are the Grasse tennis courts.

The GR51 east passes the front of the tennis courts, into the woods, and goes on to Magagnosc, Bar-sur-Loup, Gourdon and up the Gorges du Loup.

The GR51 west crosses the road and goes down the hill towards the west, eventually passing Auribeau-sur-Siagne and on into the Massif des Maures.

At the left end of the tennis courts (nearest the road), the GR4 hiking trail goes straight up the hill (zig-zagging of course) to the Plateau de Caussols and on to the Plateau de Calern where it passes the domed telescopes of the observatory.

Dining

L'Amphitryon

Location: 16 Bd Victor Hugo

Closed: Sun, Holidays; 20 Dec-4 Jan; 10 Aug-10 Sept

Tel: 0493 365 873; Fax: 04 93 36 10 66

South-western France cuisine. Located out of town a bit, in the direction of Draguignan.

Baltus

Location: 15 rue de la Fontette

Closed: Wed dinner; Sat lunch; mid Feb-mid March

Tel: 0493 363 290

A tiny place, with piano, naif paintings, and good familiale cuisine at reasonabl prices. Location: old town - at the top of the Place aux Aires, exit right (rue des 4 Coins) and continue through the arch.

La Bastide Saint Antoine

Location: 48 ave Henri Dunant

Tel: 0493 709 494; Fax: 04 93 70 94 95

Located out of town, at Saint Antoine (home of Beyond); "reputation" and stars, but we find it stuffy and over priced for questionable "high-class" quality. Web: www.jacques-chibois.com Email: info@jacques-chibois.com

Lodging - Hotels