grasse france

Just tooling around on my Google Earth–a favorite pastime of mine–I happened to land in the world’s most fragrant place, the city of Grasse, France. I’ve been to France only once, and didn’t visit Grasse, but lately I’ve been curious how different France looks from the rest of Europe. This street scene is pretty typical of French towns, sporting narrow streets between old stucco-faced buildings, and some tight places to try to park, which is why SmartCars are so much more popular in Europe than in the United States.

Note, however, the fresh lavender in the street median and the flowers that are hanging from a lamppost (which itself is out of sight in this shot). This seems very typical of Grasse, which is known the world over for being the home of the French perfume industry. Because France is the leader in perfumes, this makes Grasse pretty much the capital of the world’s perfume industry. This town on the Riviera has been the home of fine perfume makers for nearly 300 years. In the old days, and probably still to some extent, perfumers apprenticed with elder masters to learn the trade. Most of them lived and worked in Grasse. Surely the verdant flower growths in this part of France contributed mightily to the establishment of this city as the site of perfume making.

English-speaking audiences are probably most familiar with Grasse due to its depiction in the 2006 film Perfume: Story of a Murderer, itself based on the 1985 novel Perfume by Patrick Süskind. Most of the movie was actually filmed in Spain, though.