May 28th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Grasse Smells… very nice!

The French village of Grasse located near the French Riviera is famed for its perfume factories, in fact it is considered the world’s capital. To the south, only 15 km away, is the city of Cannes with its yachts, fine-sand beaches and luxury shopping. To the east, about a 30-minute drive away, is Nice, with its international airport, pebble beaches and the bustle of a busy city. Turning inland from Grasse, at zero distance, you have the hills and forests and canyons and rivers. The French perfume industry began in Grasse in the 16th century. Grasse has been a popular senior tourist town for several centuries, with the smell of flowers and clear air. The altitude of the town, from 300-400 m, and the hills behind give Grasse a fresher climate than the beach during the heat of the summer.

Princess Pauline Bonaparte, the Emperor’s sister, spent the winter of 1807-08 in Grasse, recuping her mental and physical strength. Queen Victoria vacationed several winters in Grasse, staying at the Rothschild’s or at the Grand Hotel. Napoléon himself passed through Grasse on 2 March 1815, but didn’t have time for vacationing.

Seniors Discover More Than Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard

The old town (“vieille ville”) is large, old, and extremely attractive. Tiny streets wind forever between the 17th and 18th century buildings, up and down ancient steps, passing through arched tunnels and sometimes opening out onto large squares.

The three “biggies” for perfume are Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard. Each have great tours for seniors to enjoy firsthand. It got its start way back in 1747 and that makes for a lot of petals that have gone through the distillery. You will want to try out your “nez” here to see if you can tell the different flower scents with jasmine being the most prized and collected only in the early morning hours when the dew is still on the petals.

There are several other attractions in Grasse that will draw you attention. The Museé International de la Parfumerie being one. Very near Grasse is the world-famed Gorges du Loup that features very deep valleys.

Strolling the cobbled streets of Grasse cafes, the Notre Dame du Puy cathedral and the 12th-century bishop’s palace — a senior visitor would find it hard to imagine that the medieval Provençal town is associated with a billion-dollar perfume industry. But with soil and climate that are perfect for fields of jasmine, tuberose and hyacinth, perfume has a long history there.

Seniors Play, Eat and Stay in Provence

Lonely Planet advises seniors to simply stroll through the village’s tightly coiled streets. The village has it’s own preferred Url in French or English. A B&B in Grasse could be attractive to seniors and La Rivolte offers superb accommodations. France This Way also is a helpful addition.

Two other “musts” when you are in the area are Vence and St. Paul-de-Provence. This video should whet your appetite for a visit to this part of France. Provence… whenever I think of Provence I want to go back there.  It is unlike any other part of France or the entire world… full of lavender, jasmine and many other flowers, small historic villages and sunshine everyday. Spend some time just “wandering” down the myriad of small roads and “stroll” through village after village, taking in the scents, the open-air markets, the small cafés and the marvelous town squares.  Try the local beverages and cuisine and enjoy the entire area.  jeb

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