There are ten parfumeries in and around Grasse, most of them making not perfume but essences-plus-formulas, sold to Dior, Lancôme, Estée Lauder and the like, who make up their own brand-name perfumes.
The ingredients that the “nose” – as the creator of the perfume’s formula is known – has to play with include resins, roots, moss, beans, bark, civet (a secretion from the cat-like civet), ambergris (whale vomit), bits of beaver and musk from Tibetan goats. You can visit three local showrooms for free, with overpoweringly fragrant shops and guided tours, in English, of the traditional perfume factory setup (the actual working industrial complexes are strictly out of bounds).
Fragonard 20 bd Fragonard wfragonard.com.
Galimard 73 rte de Cannes wgalimard.com.
Molinard 60 bd Victor-Hugo wmolinard.com.