The idea of Grasse is so entirely romantic.
It’s easy to picture it; a small, historical town surrounded by endless fields of lavender and their intoxicating fragrance. The lilac buds, swaying left and right in the warm, gentle breeze under an enduring mid-afternoon sun. It’s made for postcards and romantic novels.
In reality, the town is located in the heart of Provence, barely half an hour’s drive from the azure coastline of the French Riviera. But the rolling lavender fields tend to be further out.
It might not be how you pictured it in your mind’s eye but you won’t be disappointed if you’re in search of perfume – the fine fragrance houses can still be found all over town.
I stopped off at the family-owned Molinard, the oldest perfumery in town. It also happened to be the first one I encountered while driving in – call it serendipity.
Molinard was established in 1849, when its owners sold floral waters and Eaux de Cologne. Today, its range has vastly expanded to include Eaux de Toilette, Eaux de Parfum, soaps and solid perfumes in a great many more fragrances.
They offer a free tour around the factory, where you can learn all about the history of the house and perfume making. Having seen Perfume – The Story Of A Murderer*, it was absolutely fascinating to see it in real life.
Below are some photos I took while on my tour, which is available in English.
Custom perfume blends:
What I found really fascinating was the opportunity to blend my own perfume.
They have various blending workshops but the only one you can do without booking in advance is Le Bar des Fragrances.
You have the opportunity to sample a small selection of basic notes, ranging from fruit and floral to earthy and spicy. From those, you choose six different notes, three of which will form top notes while the other three forms the base notes. A final blend is then created by the perfumer based on your preferences.
This is €30 and you get 30ml of the finished product as Eau de Parfum.
I went for something that I imagined was light and fruity but once the top notes dissipated would leave a warm, vanilla spice. Actually, it’s quite difficult to imagine what the final product would be if you only have the individual notes as reference but that’s why the perfumer is at hand to achieve the perfect blend.
Is it what I imagined? Surprisingly, yes! But in a slightly awkward way as there were only six basic notes. For most perfumes, there are around 12.
That said, it was an interesting and educational afternoon and I’m still loving my perfume years later.