If you want to experience something that is available to only a select few, come away with a handmade unique product that you have made, and all for less than a 100 euros then this article is for you.
Grasse is situated north of Cannes in the hills of the French Riveria and is universally considered to be the perfume capital of the world. It is also the home of the Musée International de la Parfumerie, which is well worth a visit if perfume is your thing.
Grasse has three major perfume houses: Fragonard, Galimard and Molinard all of which offer interesting tours of the processes involved in distilling and mixing scents.
The Maison Molinard was founded in 1849 and is to this day a family run business that began with a little shop in the centre of Grasse that sold Eaux de Cologne to the nobility in beautiful dainty Baccarat and later Lalique crystal bottles. Since then it has grown and adapted, surviving two world wars and fending off fierce international competition yet managing to maintain its credentials and remember its origins. It’s guided tours and videos have ensured that knowledge about perfume is no longer the sole provenance of nobility but accessible to everyone. Of the three perfume houses Molinard’s tour is the most interactive with the addition of a new olfactory circuit where visitors can take a quiz to test their knowledge. The majority of the tour transports visitors to the parfumerie as it was in between the two world wars and ends with a visit to the state of the art laboratory.
All this is very pleasant especially if you are a perfume addict like me, but by far the highlight of the day is going behind the scenes at Molinard and designing and creating your own perfume from a range of 90 scents. Sheer heaven.
We were shown into a mock up of the laboratory as it was in the 1930s and seated at a circular table that had 90 perfume bottles on a Lazy Susan. The process of creating a scent was explained and basically we were asked to choose 3-4 top notes 3-4 middle notes and 4-6 base notes. These were then combined initially with others in its notal group and then all three groups combined together, tweaked and voilà! we had our own personal 50ml scent to take away along with a certificate. You can also name the perfume, which is again great fun and when you run out you can re-order your scent from Molinard as they ship to all over the world. My only reservation is that it is a shame that there are no stabilizers included in the scent and as a result my perfume changed very slightly over the proceeding weeks becoming less bright.
Our day was topped off by a visit to the Notre-Dame du Puy cathedral built 11th century and housing a beautiful altar piece attributed to Louis Brea, three canvasses by Rubens and a painting by Fragonard, plus stained glass windows and statues by Baillet.
What more could you want? Food for the mind, body and soul, a perfect day out in Grasse.