Grasse Tourist Attractions
GrasseGrasse, at heart still an ancient little town and Sous-Préfecture of the Département of Alpes-Maritimes, lies about 18km/11mi north of Cannes.
It has a sheltered situation on the slope of the Roquevignon some distance from the coast on the Route Napoléon. Even before the Côte d'Azur, Grasse was known as a winter health resort, on account of its mild climate. The town is famous as the center of the perfume industry.The area of Grasse is rich in finds from pre- and early historical times, especially of the late Neolithic era. It is believed that the place existed in Merovingian times (fifth/sixth century A.D.). In the 12th C. Grasse gained its independence but in the 13th C. came under the control of the Dukes of Provence. It was the seat of a bishop from 1244 unti1 1790. The perfume industry, which has made Grasse world-renowned, was introduced in the 16th C. by Catherine de' Médici. The Roccoco painter Jean Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) was born in Grasse. Pauline Borghese, the sister of Napoléon Bonaparte, lived in Grasse (garden above the town, Boulevard Jeu-de-Ballon 2; from here the view extends from Nice to Cannes).
Grasse is the most important center of the perfume industry, not only in France but also in the whole of Europe. The material from which the perfume is extracted is provided by the large flower plantations and lavender fields of the surrounding area. In and around Grasse about 30 large firms process throughout the year several million kilograms of blossoms (orange, rose, jasmine, thyme, rosemary, mignonette, violet, etc.). For the manufacture of perfume from natural raw materials three main methods are used: the first is the old-fashioned distillation process by means of steam; the second is an extraction process in which the perfumes together with fatty deposits are extracted by using alcohol; the third is a method of solution whereby the scents are extracted by chemical means. To obtain 1kg of ethereal oil 1,000kg of orange-blossom, for example, are necessary. To obtain oil of lavendar the plants are picked (either by machine or by hand), allowed to dry for a week and then treated with steam in vats. After the mixture is cooled the particles of lavender oils, which have a lighter specific gravity, float to the top of the brew and can be removed. About 40kg of lavender plants are necessary to obtain one liter of oil of lavender.Most of the perfume factories in Grasse (e.g. Fragonard, Molinard, Galimard) have set up sales rooms and operate guided tours.
Address: Centre ville - boulevard Fragonard, F-06130 Grasse, France
International Perfume Museum
The International Perfume Museum covers the perfume industry for which France is well known. Exhibits retrace the history of perfumes, soap and cosmetics, for over 4,000 years.The International Perfume Museum is housed in the former Hugues-Aîné perfumery built in the 19th century.
Address: 8 place du Cours, F-06130 Grasse, France
Because of the narrow thoroughfares in the Old Town, Grasse can only be visited on foot.A walking tour of Old Town Grasse begins at the Office du Tourisme (Tourist Office) in the Place de la Foux; not far east of here lies the Center International de Grasse, a modern congress and conference center. From the southern end of the square a double set of steps enclosing a fountain leads down into the Old Town.
Place aux Aires
The elongated Place aux Aires in Grasse is where the lively market is held every morning and also has a fountain. On the north side of the square stands the elegant Hôtel Isnard which was built by the wealthy Gerber Isnard (1781).
Place du Cours
From the Place aux Aires following the Rue Amiral de Grasse southwards to the Place du Cours, there is a pleasant view over the parts of the town lower down and into the valley.
In a curve of the street can be seen the pretty red facade of the Perfumery Museum. The Perfumery Museum was opened in 1989 and has many exhibits - from ancient times until the present day - illustrating the history and production of perfumes. Adjoining is a research and documentation center and on the roof a garden of scented plants has been laid out.To the south the Parfumerie Fragonard, on the ground floor of which is a very interesting museum about the history of the perfumery industry since ancient times, and a collection of perfumes of Grasse. The basement houses part of the production process and can be visited.
Villa Musée Fragonard
It was here that J-H. Fragonard withdrew in 1791 after he had lost his aristocratic customers through the French Revolution. On the staircase can be seen Grisaille pictures by Alexandre-Evariste, Fragonard's son, good copies of paintings by J-H. Fragonard which were done for the Countess du Barry, the mistress of Louis XV (the originals are now privately owned and in the USA), and other members of the family.
Address: 23 boulevard Fragonard, F-06130 Grasse, France
Musée Jean-Honoré Fragonard
The museum, housed in a late 17th C home, contains works by Fragonard in the Villa Fragonard.
Address: 23 boulevard Fragonard, F-06130 Grasse, France
Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Provence
In rue Mirabeau stands the former Hôtel de Clapiers-Cabris, a stately palace of 1771. It now houses the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Provence with historic furniture, ceramics and a collection devoted to the history of the town.
Address: 2 rue Mirabeau, F-06130 Grasse, France
To the northeast behind the Museum of Provençal Art and history and right in the center of the Old Town of Grasse stands the three-aisled Cathedral of Notre-Dame, originally 12th-13th C. and extended in the 17th and 18th C. The architecture shows influence by Lombardy and Liguria. Inside the church, which looks ancient because of its walls of great ashlar blocks, can be seen three paintings by P. P. Rubens (1601) - "Christ crowned with Thorns", "The Crucifixion" and "St Helena", a remarkable representation of the "Washing of Feet" by J. H. Fragonard, one of the rare religious paintings by this master of Roccoco, and the Altar of St Honorat which has been attributed to Bréa.To the north, opposite the church, stands the Ancien Evêché, the former bishop's palace, built in the 13th C. and later considerably altered; it is now the Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville). From the Place du 24 Aot which adjoins the church there is a fine view over the valley.
Musee Provençal du costume et du bijou
The Provence Costume and Jewelry Museum is housed in the former residence of the Marchioness of Cabris, sister to Mirabeau. The rooms hold a private collection of 18th- and 19th-century Provençal costume and jewelry.Household items are also on display including tablecloths, glassware, and pottery.
Address: 2 rue Jean Ossola, F-06130 Grasse, France
Cabris is a picturesque village, once popular with artists, above the Grasse basin (8km/5mi west). Of interest are the ruins of the 12th C. castle, a church (1606-50) and the Chapel of Ste-Marguerite with a winged altar of about 1500. At the western edge of the village stands the 16th C. Chapel of St-Jean Baptiste.
About 16km/10mi northeast of Grasse, the little village of Gourdon is situated on a ridge. The fortress, built in the 13th and 17th C. on Saracen foundations, houses a museum (Oriental and French weapons, pictures of the Cologne school of about 1550, primitive painting). The park-like terraces laid out by Le Notre partly belong to a botanical research station. From here there is a fine view of Cap d'Antibes and Cap Roux.Not to be confused with the town of Gourdon in the département of Aquitaine.
Gorges du Loup
The gorge which the River Loup has cut deep into the rock is reached from Grasse via Bar-sur-Loup and the D2210. The road (D6) through the gorge runs below rock walls up to 400m/1,313ft high, past the Cascade de Courmes (altogether 70m/230ft high) and near the 25m/82ft-high Saut du Loup. Near a winding stretch of the D3 which returns to Grasse there is an observation point (signed "Surplomb des Gorges du Loup"), from which there is an almost vertical view down into the gorge and up to the 1,248m/4,096ft high Pic des Courmettes.
Festival of String Quartets, Fayence, France
The Festival of String Quartets is an annual week-long festival that takes place in late October in the villages of Provence. The local churches are the settings for the nightly concerts of chamber music. The repertoires range from Mozart to Webern and the performers come from all over the world.
Laid out on the terraces of a steep hillside overlooking Grasse is the gardens of Villa Noailles. A wide variety of plants have been grown here.
Address: Avenue Guy-de-Maupassant, F-06130 Grasse, France
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