906km (563 miles) S of Paris; 18km (11 miles) N of Cannes; 10km (6 miles) NW of Mougins
Grasse, a 20-minute drive from Cannes, has been renowned as the capital of the world’s perfume industry since the Renaissance. It was once a famous resort, attracting such royals as Queen Victoria and Princess Pauline Borghese, Napoleon’s lascivious sister. Edith Piaf too fell under the town’s spell, vacationing and then living out her final years in the village of Plascassier, just east of the town center.
Today some three-quarters of the world’s essences are produced here from thousands of tons of petals, including violets, daffodils, wild lavender, and jasmine. (It takes some 10,000 flowers to produce just over 1 kilogram of jasmine petals, and almost a ton of petals is needed to distill 1 liter of essence.)
The quaint medieval town, which formed the backdrop for the 2006 movie “Perfume,” has several free perfume museums where visitors can enroll in workshops to create their own scent.