The city has 50,000 inhabitants and provides space for a rather large and very interesting old town – vieille ville, as the French say – with cozy narrow alleys and dark and narrow passages.
A magnificent place to explore medieval architecture and your own imagination and listen to the charming sound of the many fountains that adorn Grasse’s cobbled squares.
There are also many small cozy squares with cafes and shops used by both tourists and residents of the district, primarily descendants of immigrants from the French colonies.
Place du Cours Honoré-Cresp is a nice and more open breathing space in the old town and a suitable place to end an inspiring walk.
Grasse is a nice resort
As a holiday resort in the summer, Grasse is a good choice, as both the city itself and its immediate surroundings of large and exotic flower fields contain a lot of unexpected beauty. And the place does not feel like a regular tourist area, as it is not the souvenir shops that dominate. It does, however, do something completely different.
The capital of perfume
Grasse is primarily known for its large production of plant extracts for fashion houses all over the world, which buy up the extracts and mix and add these simple spirits, thereby creating finished perfumes.
The scent of i.a. lavender, roses and jasmine are felt in many places in the air – in and near the area’s giant flower fields. Many of these are available to the public, as are several of the perfume factories, the most famous of which, but far from the oldest, is probably Parfumerie Fragonard, but also names like Molinard, Galimard and Domaine de Manon ring the bells of professionals and customers .
Perfume has been known and used for centuries in Grasse, but it was not until 2018 that the city received some kind of official recognition, as its special perfume manufacturing technique was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. If you are into perfume, Grasse is simply the city you must visit.
In addition to being world famous for its perfume industry, Grasse also has other very interesting attractions. Exciting museums and especially the Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Puy from the 13th century.
In addition to its ecclesiastical beauty, the cathedral contains an unexpected secret: three large oil paintings by Rubens, depicting three of the 14 stations on the cross as well as one of the rare religious works by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Read more about the cathedral here.
You should also follow the city’s winding streets to one of several beautiful panoramic views in the valley down to the sea, which boasts olive groves and flower fields that stretch all the way to the bays of Cannes and Théoule. One of these vantage points is located just behind the impressive cathedral.
If you are into sports and golf, then several of the region’s golf courses are located in the area, and there is horse riding and tennis in the green surrounding areas.
Flower festivals in Grasse
There are two important times of the year for both tourists and the inhabitants of Grasse. It is the two celebrations of the flowers that, with their fragrance and aromas, contribute to the entire perfume industry, which is Grasse’s economic heart.
Both roses and jasmine are some of the most important ingredients for Grasse’s famous perfume industry, and a festival to celebrate these fragrant flowers is held in May and August, respectively. Among other things, jasmine and turnips, which are part of Chanel No 5, are grown in protected fields around Grasse. Chanel does not use flowers grown elsewhere.
Rose festival in May
May is the month of rose, and how better to celebrate this than in the world’s perfume capital, Grasse, on the French Riviera. Every year, over a weekend in early to mid-May, the city honors the rose in all its forms at a 3-day rose festival, ExpoRose.
Around 50,000 roses are imported from all over France and Italy for the 3-day Expo Rose, where this venerable perfume capital is adorned with thousands of garlands.
Around 8000 bouquets, 13000 rose bushes and over 25000 cut roses decorate fountains, statues, shop facades and public squares throughout Grasse.
Dance and music performances, tastings of everything rose-flavored, along with a market selling rose-themed gifts and food, and of course rose plants of every color and black imaginable, complete the festival.
The scent in the air is amazing, as it is not only the tens of thousands of roses that smell, but also rose perfume that is sprayed via nebulizers into the streets of the old town and contributes to the fragrance explosion.
Grasse Jasmine festival in August
Every August, the annual Fête de Jasmine takes place under the heat of the high summer sun. The festival was first held in 1946, where it consisted of dance, concerts, exhibitions, and party fireworks.
Today there are over a dozen flower fleets, from which thousands of flowers are thrown, which encourages a “flower fight” on the streets of Grasse. Local firefighters “extinguish” the festival spectators in jasmine water before the party ends with a picnic, fireworks and the choice of ‘Miss Jasmine’.
By Peter Sejersen – 2022