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Last Excursion in the French Riviera: Grasse

November 27, 2018
by Evelyn Little

For this week’s blog post, I decided to record our last excursion as the Fall 2018 class in the study abroad program in the French Riviera. We went to Grasse— a small town about 30 minutes away from Antibes—otherwise known as the perfume capital of the world.

We left Antibes at about 8:30 a.m. and arrived around 9 a.m. We got a tour of the perfume factory, Parfumerie Galimard. This perfumery has been in business since 1747, and is still one of the largest contributors to the 70% of perfumes in the world that come out of Grasse. Our tour guide told us that there are people who are referred to as "noses" -- people who have the rare ability to distinguish between many different fragrances and decide what is the best combination for each perfume made. One cannot just become a nose; they have to be born with the ability to smell the way they do. There are 40 noses in the world, and 38 of them work in Grasse.

After our tour of the factory, we were able to smell their newest spring and winter fragrances for both men and women. It was interesting to notice the differences between the fragrances, and learning how many essential oils go into making just one perfume. For instance, it takes over 100 kilograms of jasmine petals to make one bottle of perfume. We were also able to buy these perfumes at a reduced price, since we were in the factory itself – yay Christmas gifts!

After the tour, we were lucky enough to be able to make our own perfumes! We traveled a few minutes down the road to the actual lab where the perfumes are made at Galimard. We each sat at our own station, with a large array of fragrances in front of us. In each perfume there are a mixture of different notes: head notes, the first thing you smell in a perfume; heart notes, the second and heavier scents; and the base notes, the longest lasting and the final scent you will be left with throughout the day. The entire process took about an hour and a half, and we all left with our very own perfume that we can enjoy (and reorder) forever.

The rest of the day consisted of traveling to a couple of mountaintop villages, Gourdon and Saint-Paul-de-Vence. The views in these villages were just astounding, you could see so many parts of Côte d’Azur! In between the two, we stopped at an olive oil factory and got to taste a number of different olive oils. We ended the day with a gorgeous sunset view in Saint-Paul-de-Vence.

If you can ever make your way to the South of France, Grasse, Gourdon and Saint-Paul-de-Vence are definitely sights to see—and smell.

Evelyn Little is the Fall 2018 CEA MOJO Blogger in French Riviera, France, and is currently studying at Washington State University.
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