In May I got to tick off one of the things on my ‘Must Visit’ list.
I visited Grasse in the South of France on a wonderful sunny early summer’s day. The air was perfumed with the smell of roses as it was the ‘Expo Rose’ event in the main square. A visit to Fragonard to the Perfume Apprentice workshop and the International Museum of Perfume filled the day with scent, delight and a wondrous aromatic journey which, over a series of blog posts I will share with you. First, a quick history lesson and a few images to set the scene.
Grasse is situated high above the surrounding area with wonderful views out to Cannes, Nice and the sea beyond. During the summer the air is fresher and cooler than the heat of the resorts below. During the winter it maintains a warm atmosphere which may be why Napoleons sister and Queen Victoria vacationed there in the winter.
A true medieval city it withstood the Saracen raids during the 9th Century. During the 12th century it was an independent republic. The Count of Provence brought it into his control in 1227. It was under siege during the Wars of Religion in the late 1500’s. During the French Revolution it was the capital of the Var region. In 1860 when the department of Nice became part of France, Grasse became part of the Alpes Maritimes area.
The old town still has buildings that were constructed during this period. On the Place du Petit Puy is the Notre Dame du Puy cathedral dating back to the 10-11th century. In the Place Godeau there is a watch tower (Tour de Guet) at the Mairie which was originally the Bishop’s palace. It was during the Middle ages that the story of Grasse and perfumery begins – but that’s another story!