It was created in 1989 and renovated in 1989. people say its the only perfume museum in the world in the birthplace of perfume. The museum presents the history of perfume production, functions of perfume and its effective use.
Grasse, situated on the border of the Cote d'Azur and the Provence, has two museums that enlighten the customs of this South departement of France in many ways. One museum is the "Musee d'Art et d'Histoire de Provence (1)" showing about the art and history. the other "Musee Provecnal du Costume et du Bijou (2)" emphasises the dresses and jewelry that belongs to this region. Both are situated in the old town of Grasse and are definately worth a visit (one is already great to get an impression).
Named after one of Napoleons successful Generals. I guess the unsucessful ones were not around long. Like there are probably very few unsuccessful skydivers around.
The significance of the door is that it is carved in solid walnut and bears an important french civic emblem. This apparently makes it interesting.
Solid walnut door connoiseurs to please form an ordely queue
During the French Revolution, Grasse became the capital of the Var. Tucked away in a corner in the gardens of the Musee Admiral de Grasse is this an unexpected memorial to the many prominent citzens of Grasse executed in the Terror that followed the "restructuring and new management arrangements" of France in the 1790's.
Chief Executive Citizen Robbespiere and his Committee for Public Safety (not to be confused with today's Health and Safety) let loose a terrible purge of France's senior management. Early retirement and cosy pension arrangements were not an option. Many public figures of Grasse are catalogued here in marble letters, their age and position, prior to having their heads detatched from their bodies. (Sort of "severance arrangements", you might say)
France often trumpets the ideals of the revolution - Liberte, Equalite, Fraternite. Rarely mention of "Decapite", courtesy of Madame Guillotine.
Grasse's new partof the town is also nice. There are many attractive perfume shops, restaurants and cafes. The location of the new town is higher than the old Grasse. >You may go to this new town first and then go down to the old town, this way it is easier to walk.
It was very interesting to learn very much about industry of perfume industry. For example, did you know how much flower of jasmine needs for production of aromatics of 1000 kilos? I liked that conducted tour was interactive and all participants tested their ability in perfume industry.
Of course at the end tour guide represent you various perfumes and you are welcome to buy some of them. If you don't want you leave the museum or buy some aromatic soap as souvenir.
The best way to get to know a place is to walk around and see it on foot. You are forced to go slowly and see what is going on around you. You smell the bread from the bakery and the flowers at the market. The merchants will offer you free samples of nearly everything and that's a great way to choose your sausages, cheese and fruits for those marvelous French pique-niques.
It you happen to be a budget traveler, walking is free! Always in its favor. 8^)
Couple of nice golf courses are near-by Grasse.
Golf de la Grande Bastide
- average course in the fields
Golf d'Opio Valbonne
- very lovely course in the middle of woods. Tee 16 just next to 2000 years old Roman aquaduct is excellent!
Golf Claux Amic
- luxury course in the mountains, hard work walking up & down the slopes
After the visits in parfumeries you are invited to their shops. You can buy not only parfumes there, but also different kinds of soaps, creams, lotions, bath salt, vaseline and many other things. However I didn't see any goods of known worldwide brand names, just the locally produced items. Anyway you can still find something you like for yourself or for a present.
There are three main parfume factories in Grasse: Fragonard (www.fragonard.com), Molinard (www.molinard.com) and Galimard (www.galimard.com). You can visit all of them for free (guided tours or without any guide). Some of them have offices in the village, some are just on the way comming to Grasse from Cannes, you can also visit their gardens. You don't need to know the address as there are lot of signs showing the direction to parfumeries. Although we were not successful to find Galimard... The sign showed 200m straight forward, but if you turn, on the same sign from the other side, Galimard had to be 100m in the opposite direction! So we went to Fragonard which was just by the street. I preferred Galimard as on their internet site they offer you to make your own parfume for 35 euros including 3 1/3 fl.oz. It takes 2 hours and your parfume is recorded for the future at their databases. Its a pity I could not find it.
Medieval origins of Grasse found in the little Square of the Sisters, dating back to 15th century.
Reputedly home to Catherine de Medici, the Italian connection following from Grasse being allied for several preceding centuries to Pisa and Genoa. Catherine introduced the fashion of perfumed gloves - designed to help shield high society from the smell of the populace, who, before the invention of the roller-ball underarm deodorant, must have been pretty whiffy .
No doubt the Grasse naval museum is of interest however as the staff didn't appear to make it back from lunch, I was left to study the interesting features of its gardens, one of which is this lifesize marble reclining semi-nude sculpture of Princess Pauline Bonaparte, the Emperor Napoleon's sister. Or maybe it was Napoleon the Third's sister.
Anyway, for an emperor's sister, she needs to cover up a little more.
This shows all the hallmarks of a celebrity centrefold shoot - in marble. "Fantastic Princess, love, now give us a little more, a little more, thats it, lovely, now hold it there, while I get the hammer and chisel out - this may take a little time."
This museum is in the old 18th century Hôtel Pontevès-Morel, and dedicated to the career of the Amiral de Grasse. In the late 1780's de Grasse led a crucial force that converged on Yorktown and defeated the largest concentration of British soldiers in America's War of Independence. Soon after the Yorktown defeat, Britain recognized the United States of America and withdrew its forces.
Defeating the Perfidious Albion would be an immense source of national pride to the French. However being midwife to the birth of America must indeed be a cause of nearly daily recriminations. "Why did we didn't we go in, Grasse, eh ? We'd beaten the redcoats. All of America could now be French-speaking, instead of a couple of poxy provinces of eastern Canada. The United States of France was in our grasp." Perhaps Amiral de Grasse, having defeated the English, in the best French tradition, then shut up shop and closed for a very very long lunch.
None of this was known to me at the time as the Museum failed to re-open after lunch.
Look up and you will see interesting 19th century architecture in the narrow little streets, however much of it is in a serious state of delapidation and disrepair. A few coachloads of Norwegian tourists visiting the perfume outlets does not create sufficient economic engine to fire up the scale of investment required to revitalise Grasse.
Queen Victoria came here, Princess Pauline Bonaparte, the Emperor's sister, spent several years here for her health. However there is not enough here to attract today's tourist, who is spoiled for choice. A good start has been made re-opening the rail connection with Cannes and the rest of the Riviera. They are rebuilding the main thoroughfare and there is a casino. They put on seasonal festivals and concerts, though travel by public transport - even if possible late at night - is deeply unattractive,
Undergoing major renovation of the exterior. Untypically for some of the lavishly decorated churches elsewhere on the Riviera, the interior is quite sparse and consists of simple bare stonework and a high vaulted ceiling. It looks its age. Which is fair enough as probably I do too.On its walls are three works of Reubens and a Fragonard.