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Hidden away in the hills north of Nice, Grasse is the hub of the world's perfume industry and surrounded by miles and miles of fields full of lavender, jasmine and roses. A gentle microclimate and good water supply made Grasse an ideal location for plant cultivation, and the town has been at the heart of perfume production since the 16th century.

With a restored old town, views down over the Mediterranean, and a host of museums, perfume factories and scented gardens to explore, Grasse offers a revealing introduction to the perfume industry and its long and complex history.

Although quite different today from the medieval town depicted in Patrick Süskind's novel Perfume, the old town of Grasse has narrow, winding lanes, mansions and public gardens.

Also in the heart of town is the Parfumerie Fragonard, another old family mansion that has been used as a perfumery since 1782. Fragonard took it over in 1926, and it's now open to the public as a museum. You can tour the historic house, see the original equipment, learn about the historic extraction and distillation processes and attend perfume-making workshops.

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Audley Travel Specialist Ruth

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