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Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Honeymoon: Provence

Grasse, France

On Saturday, May 12th James and I flew from Amsterdam to Nice. Our plan was to have lunch in Nice and wander around then drive to Grasse, where we had rented a little cottage. We left the Amsterdam flat at 5 am so by the time we arrived in Nice, we really just wanted to get to Grasse and have a nap. So we decided to forego our lunch plans and arrived in Grasse in the early afternoon.

Bienvenue a Grasse. Perfume capital of the world.

We were a bit lost. It was analog maps and the compass on my iPhone guiding us, especially since the French are pretty relaxed when it comes to signage. At one point we stopped at a McDonald’s that was advertising free wifi in order to get our barings. It ended up that the McDonald’s was on a roundabout and our guesthouse was straight across that very roundabout.

We stayed at Mas des Romarins, which is walking distance from two perfumeries and 45-60 minutes walk from the town of Grasse.

After a nice little nap, we ventured out into the warm afternoon and trekked uphill to the town. Right at the top of the hill is Molinard, a little history of perfume museum with old bottles and photos and a small factory tour below. We wandered around there, then stopped at a creperie for a bite to eat.


The town was a quaint little village with windy streets and little stalls selling lavender and rose products. Overall I was disappointed in Grasse because I was hoping for more insights into the perfume industry and I was keen to see the rose fields where Channel grows their special stock. Alas, the internet (in French and English) was not helpful in getting us sorted out.

We did do one of the tours though, just to look around.

Perfume organ

Thankfully I discovered a loop road and we planned our adventure for the following day.

Grasse loop drive

Sunday, May 13

After a lovely breakfast we drove off to Valbonne, which is a typical Provence town.



Rose festival

Rose festival

There was a huge garage-sale event happening in one of the parking lots so we walked around there, then stopped at a butcher and vegetable stand to collect some lunch items.

Market day in Valbonne

Asterix in Valbonne


Then we took to the road, driving passed Chateauneuf-Grasse to Gourdon. The road was absolutely spectacular and Gourdon is tucked up at the top of a mountain.

Driving up to Gourdon.

Flower fields outside of Gourdon

In Gourdon James stumbled upon a confectioner who was only too happy to chat us up about his son’s visit to America, French politics, the art of making nougat and the perfume fields around Gourdon.

Grasse to Gourdon


Since it was afternoon, the roses would be already picked, but after having a sip of orange blossom liquor from their private stock, we decided to see one of the fields anyway.

Flower fields outside of Gourdon

It’s not really that hard to find beautiful roses.

Flower fields outside of Gourdon

In May, the orange blossoms are scenting the air more so than the roses.

Florian Confectionery

From Gourdon we travelled eastward to Tourres-sur-Loup and Vence. We stopped at the Florian confectionery and visited La Colle-sur-Loup where there village was celebrating Rose Festival. Then it was back to Valbonne for a nice dinner.

The Florian confectionery had a lovely garden with roses and orange blossoms.


Florian Confectionery

Florian Confectionery

In Colle sur Loup is where we encountered the Rose Festival with traditional dancing, sweets and roses bushes of every kind for sale.

Rose festival in La Colle sur Loup

Monday, May 14

Our host Claire made us a lovely breakfast in the garden and chatted to us about the jasmine growing and orange blossoms. By the time we left we had a small flower and herb garden of clippings in our car, which made for a fragrant journey to Chateauneuf-du-pape.


We also stopped at a few of the perfume factories to poke around. They are rather touristy but it was still fun to see the old stills.

Us in front of Fragonard


Fragonard perfumery in Grasse

Fragonard perfumery in Grasse

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