A trip to Grasse-the capital of perfumes

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Have you read Patrick Suskind´s book “The Perfume”? Or maybe you have seen the movie: Perfume – the story of a murderer? If you haven´t, I highly recommend it, it is a somewhat creepy story portraying a serial killer whose sense of smell is highly developed. And since that probably didn´t convince you, here is what Amazon says: “The novel explores the sense of smell and its relationship with the emotional meaning that scents may carry. Above all it is a story of identity, communication and the morality of the human spirit.”

In the book/movie the main character, Grenouille, decides to go to Grasse, the international capital of perfumes and the place where one must go to learn and master the art of creating unique scents. In my trip to the French Riviera I also had the opportunity to go to Grasse and although I was never a huge perfume user (although I collected pretty perfume bottles since I was a kid), seeing how everything is made and being at a true french parfumerie turned me into the happy owner of a perfume obsession. That place is amazing and definitely my favorite in France. It has at least 3 very big parfumeries, all can be visited and you can get a free tour while being shown what they do to create amazing smells. I got to go to Fragonard, la parfumerie named after the famous painter Jean Honoré Fragonard who was born in Grasse.  The smell inside is so strong that after you leave, your clothes will probably smell for quite a while like a mix of roses, lilies, jasmine and other flowers that grow locally.

We had the most charming tour guide, this petite French lady in her navy-blue uniform-suit who talked so passionately about flowers, scents and perfumes and showed us the different techniques used to extract the smell out of flowers and other natural materials while also making the difference between parfum, eau de parfum, eau de toilette and so on, a lot clearer. The tour ended with us smelling a lot of Fragonard´s perfumes and with me buying some “souvenirs”, of course. I bought some tiny pure perfumes, one called “La belle cherie” – a fruity and floral mix for day and another one called “Belle de nuit” which is associated with an arabian night and is a bit stronger.

And to point out the benefit of having a pure perfume instead of eau de toilette or so, I will tell you about the last time I used it. I have put a very small amount behind my ears (one of the warm points of the body) and I felt the smell for some time until my nose probably got used to it. Later that day I went to the gym and after working out a bit and warming up I started feeling the delicate, floral base notes of the perfume all around me, it was so interesting and such a nice surprise. The smell lasted even after I ended my exercise and after taking a shower. This never happens with my normal perfume which is probably an “eau de toilette”. However I am using “La petite robe noire” so I won´t give up on that either.

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“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”

― Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

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