The town lies in the hills above Cannes and offers a fresher climate than the balmy coastal towns. It is a little but scruffy in places but does have some wonderful grand mansions in the centre and around the outskirts.
Blessed with a mild winter climate and a perfect setting on the southern slopes of Montagne de Doublier, Grasse has attracted visitors for centuries. In the early 19th century Pauline Borghese, Napoleon's favorite sister, spent a winter there. Queen Victoria was so taken by Grasse, its climate and surroundings, that she returned several times to winter at the Rothschild's villa. Today, the town of 40 thousand has a substantial population of expatriates: the many villas and apartment complexes on the hill sides are witness to the fact.
It's prime location (only 15 km from Cannes, 40 km from Nice) is not the only attraction of Grasse. What makes the tourists arrive in droves is the scent of flowers, concentrated in powerful essence. Grasse is the perfume capital of the world. When you approach the town, you'll soon become aware of that fact. Billboards invite you to a free tour of one of the major perfume factories: Fragonard, Galimard or Molinard. These tours are worth while, educational about the intricacies of perfume making. They are not a tourist trap, even though at the end the guides will steer you to the factory store where you can buy fragrances, soaps and other local products.
Beyond its perfume connection, Grasse presents a charming old town with winding streets and surprising quiet in squares and alleys. When you are in the main streets of the old town and its string of shops, you'll find yourself transported into the scented world. It's impossible to avoid the displays of dried flower petals (create your own mix), soaps, eau de toilette, and other items of fragrance. Indulge yourself in the richness of scent. If it begins to overwhelm you, find your escape to the Mediterranean sea, or the quiet of a Provençal village, just a few miles to the north or west of this perfume centre of the world.
It has an authentic old medieval centre which you can wander around with the help of a free walking map available from the tourist office. You'll find plenty of cafes and restaurants (Place aux Aires), gift shops, and of course, perfume shops.
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