France // The Côte d’Azur //


Grasse, 16km inland from Cannes and an easy day-trip from the coast, has been the world capital of parfumiers for almost three hundred years. These days it promotes a fragrant image of a medieval hill town surrounded by scented flowers, though in truth, the glamour of this friendly place is mostly bottled, and the perfume industry is at pains to keep quiet about modern, unromantic innovations and techniques.

Though the main purpose of coming here is to buy perfume, there are also several worthwhile small museums including  the fascinating Musée International de la Parfumerie, a worthwhile adjunct to a factory visit, and probably far more informative. It displays perfume bottles from the ancient Greeks via Marie Antoinette to the present, and has a reconstruction of a perfume factory.

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