A Pungent Start to an Alluring Industry

Renowned for beauty and an abundance of jasmine, lavender, and other tantalizing flowers, Grasse, France has a less than pleasant odor to thank for its rise to perfume stardom. Strolling through Grasse, certainly didn’t always smell like roses.                         

Heading north from the French Rivera towns, Grasse sits in the department of Alpes-Maritimes. Recognized as the perfume capital of the world, Grasse is home to low mountains, deep valleys and fields of natural delights harvested for scent creation.


In the late 18th century before Chanel No. 5 could even dream of leaving it’s on the world, Grasse was crafting leather gloves for French nobility. Specializing in leather tanning during the Middle Ages, Grasse had a less than appealing smell and the gloves produced often carried these odors with them.

Ohh the stinky dilemma, whatever is French nobility to do?! Jean de Galimard steps in as the perfumed crusader. Galimard began infusing the leather wears with scents such as rose water, and thus propelled Grasse into it’s rise to perfume stardom. The tanning leather industry would eventually fall in Grasse, but the perfume remained.

Galimond would go on to be one of the most recognized names in the perfume industry, sitting alongside renowned perfumeries Fragonard and Molinard, or the Grasse Big Three as I like to call them. Find yourself with some free time, do pop into these perfumeries and have a whiff, all three are open to the public for museum visits, tours and perfume creation.

Go on … create something special for yourself, so next time someone asks what you are wearing, you can say “It’s Custom!”