The perfume capital of the world, Grasse is the birthplace of the modern perfume industry and remains the leading source of plants and herbs used in the essential oils for perfume. This little town in the South of France is in the Riviera but slightly more inland than the other popular Riviera towns (like Antibes and Cannes!). So Grasse is a bit less busy and touristy, but heavy on the charm and definitely worth a stop while you’re touring the area. The main attraction in Grasse is definitely the perfume industry, so you should come here if you’re curious about it or in search of your new scent (or both, as I was!). I LOVED visiting Grasse, and it’s definitely worth at least a daytrip. Here are my suggestions to make the most of your visit, here’s my Grasse Visitor Guide!
Grasse Visitor Guide
When To Go
As with the rest of the French Riviera, Grasse is best visited in summer. But I would also suggest the shoulder season in April/May and September as good alternatives to avoid crowds throughout the region. If you’re up for some fun, head over to Grasse in August for the Jasmine Festival, which celebrates one of the region’s most bountiful and important flowers.
How To Get There
Grasse is connected to the rest of the Riviera on the awesome SNCF train system. It’s about an hour ride inland from Cannes, which makes it a great day trip for those staying in Cannes. But you can also reach it by train from Nice or Antibes or anywhere else on the coast. The trains to Grasse run less frequently than those along the coast, about every hour instead of every 20 minutes, so plan accordingly. Now when you get out of the Grasse train station, you’ll want to take two left turns and walk abut 100m down the street to the bus station where you pick up the bus to Grasse Centre (or centre ville). It’s €1.50, it’s quick, and it’s all uphill…so don’t bother trying to walk it. You’ll see out the windows when you’ve made it to the center of town, and you can just hop off at any stop downtown.
Where to Stay
I loved Grasse and I could easily spend a lot of time there, but it would be in a Under the Tuscan Sun sort of way, where I would enjoy the slow pace of life and the opportunity to delve into something like writing or art. You can see and do all the major attractions in Grasse in one day, which is why most folks come here as a daytrip. But if you do want to stay overnight here, I would recommend Airbnb as a way of slipping into that slow French provincial pace of life that Grasse offers!
What To Do
Buy perfume of course! I’m kidding, but actually all of Grasse pretty much revolves around perfume. There are a number of perfume factories here, which if you’re totally into perfume you could take some time visiting each of them. Most folks will be satisfied with visiting just one, and I suggest Parfumerie Fragonard, which is the most popular and accessible (right in the town center!). It’s a great chance to tour the factory and see how the perfumes are made, as well as shop for your new scent (I got mine there!). The tour is free and walk-ins welcome. Also leave time for the International Perfume Museum, which will give you a greater appreciation for the development of the industry here as well as the transformation of perfume over the centuries. This costs €6 and is available in French, English, and Italian. If you’re up for more museums, check out the Fragonard Museum and the Museum of the Art and History of Provence.
Grasse is more than it’s perfume industry though, so don’t miss out on exploring this cute little town. There’s a market on Wednesdays in the main square (near Parfumerie Fragonard). Rue Marcel Journet is an old cobblestoned street lined with shops and restaurants, and has many side streets that are not touristy. Also take the Rue Amiral de Grasse up to the Place aux Aires, where you’ll find artisan shops and sidewalk restaurants (don’t miss the Atelier Diana for great prints and art). Everything about Grasse is picturesque, so wander around with your camera in hand!
Where To Eat
Right near the Parfumerie Fragonard is a great little restaurant called Café des Musées, and I think it’s the perfect spot to sit and enjoy a glass of wine and people watching after museum-ing and shopping all day! I would skip the restaurants on Rue Marcel Journet and head straight to the Place aux Aires. There are a ton of great sidewalk restaurants up there and the energy gets buzzing at night when the square is filled with diners sharing stories and laughs over a bottle of wine!
Need to Know
Grasse is an easy town to visit, very tourist-friendly. Most everyone speaks English, and the town is very safe. I recommend bringing cash Euros with you since there aren’t a ton of ATMs in this small town, and be sure to budget a bit more if you want to buy perfume while you’re here. And lastly, be careful with your timing because the train station is a bus ride away from town and if you miss your train the next one isn’t for an hour! I use an app called Captain Train to check the train schedules while I’m traveling around the Riviera.
I hope you find your scent in Grasse, and learn a bit more about the creation of perfumes. I think this is a fascinating industry and I took away so much from my visit (not the least of which was a new perfume that I absolutely LOVE!). So if you’re headed to Grasse, I hope this Grasse Visitor Guide helps you make the most of your trip. Enjoy!
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