The City of Perfume, Grasse, Provence, France

I am so very fond of the town of Grasse for many reasons, but mainly because it is the setting of some parts of my novel PROVENCE, Fragrances. A typical town of Provence exuding its own unique loveliness, Grasse is located in the hills, half an hour’s drive from Cannes. What inspired me to come here?  Everything!  Starting from the perfumeries where, for centuries, essences have been produced, extracted from the petals of precious flowers - and I visited them all, one by one, paying great attention to each.

Thus was born, in my mind, the perfumery of grand-father Stéphane Lemaire: and through him I was able to describe the secrets of his craft. Along the narrow streets that are lined with small, patrician houses, the history of the place transpired in all its charm. I chose this environment for the home of my heroine and through her I set out on an enthusiastic narration of a lifetime. 

And then there’ s that air of Provence that you breathe, and which comes from the atmosphere and beauty of the landscapes. There are some splendid hills nearby and the ambience is so different from that of the French Riviera – so much simpler, with a lifestyle focused on quality, traditions and, especially, the lack of haste. 

Provence - like Tuscany, is in my heart, although the landscapes are different. In both places the preponderant trait is the love of detail and it is that detail that makes them unique. To visit Biot, for example, is a wonderful experience where one marvels at the delightful little local crafts, much the same in character as a walk through Pienza,where craftsmanship, especially in all things of a gustatory nature, pleases the eye.

Grasse Old Town, Provence, France

Grasse Old Town, Provence, France

Barbara Athanassiadis