Grasse is a picture-perfect village nestled in the French Alps. It has been the perfume capital of the world since the eighteenth century.
We visited Grasse while driving along the French Riviera. The village is only 20 kms away from Cannes and 40 kms away from Nice.
Galimard, one of its bigger perfumeries offers free entry and free guided tours in all languages. The tours might be basic, but they are quite enjoyable. Our guide took us through the distillery, laboratories, and extraction rooms at Galimard. She offered a detailed explanation of the lengthy process of extracting essential oils from flowers and plants. We were startled on finding out that hundreds of flowers yield just a drop of essential oil, which is then diluted into EDT's and perfumes.
The field trips are the highlight of a visit to Grasse's perfumeries. During summer, fields are laden with flowers - roses, lavender, jasmine, orange blossoms - the list is endless. Here the air itself seems scented.
The tour ends in a shop where Galimard sells its own scented soaps, perfumes, incense sticks, and scented beads. The entire experience lasts 45 minutes, so we were done by the afternoon. We spent our evening exploring this picturesque village and its crumbling alleys. Make sure you set aside an hour to two to explore the village when you visit Grasse's perfumeries - it is well worth it.