A WEEKEND IN PROVENCE // exploring the perfume capital of the world


What to do in Grasse skyline

featured travel

The tannoy crackled, and a voice began to speak quickly in French. The passengers around me began to gather up with belongings; seeing my confusion, the woman next to me translated: ‘This train is stopping,’ she explained. ‘We will have to change.’

As we hurried to the right platform, it became clear we were both heading to Grasse. Luckily, the woman’s English was a lot better than my French, and we chatted for the rest of our journey. She told me her name was Sabine, and that she travelled to Grasse every weekend to visit her boyfriend. ‘You will love it there,’ she explained, ‘it’s a very relaxed and friendly place.’

Even after we arrived at the station she insisted on dropping me at my accommodation, farewelling me with two kisses and a loud, ‘Au revoir!’ out of the window.

A warm and welcoming start to my weekend in the perfume capital of the world.

Grasse is set in the hills of the Provence region, nestled between the lower French Alps and the Cote d’Azur – or the French Riviera, as it is known in the UK. The views are stunning – pastel-painted buildings dotted against blue-hued hills, sloping down towards the sparkling Mediterranean Sea.

I’d dreamed of travelling here since I was a little girl growing up in New Zealand: walking through the parfumeries, watching as master ‘noses’ (a nickname for master parfumers) created exotic scents with glass pipettes and the finest essential oils.

What to do in Grasse Molinard outside shot

And now, here I was – standing at the gate of the revered Molinard Parfumeries, where some of the world’s most famous figures – including Queen Victoria – have travelled to get their bespoke fragrance blends.

Walking through the doors is like stepping back in time – apart from the modern accoutrements, the salon and factory stands just as it did in 1849, when the store was first opened by Hyacinthe Molinard, distilling roses, jasmine and local flowers.

What to do in Grasse molinard salon

What to do in Grasse molinard salon display

What to do in Grasse molinard soaps

Since then the perfumery has been passed down through five generations, and to this day is a family-owned business, still using traditional techniques from last century, in perfume stills designed by Gustave Eiffel – yes, the same man who created the Eiffel Tower.

But I wasn’t just going to admire the history, I was also at Parfums Molinard to join their perfume workshop and create my very own unique signature scent in their perfume laboratory. I opted for the L’Atelier des Parfums – a €69 one-hour course allowing me access to 90 essences, under the professional guidance of one of their master parfumers.

I was in heaven. 

What to do in Grasse molinard workshop

My first task was to smell every one of the essences, which are grouped by base, middle and top notes, and put aside the ones that appealed to me. Next, I had to find the scents that blended well together, which I did by dipping a strip of cardboard into each essence, then mix and matching them until I found the perfect complement of scents.

After running it past the master parfumer, and getting her nod of approval, it was time to capture my bespoke scent. Her finely tuned nose knew exactly what ratios I needed to create my perfectly balanced mix (majority base notes, slight less middle notes and the smallest amount of top notes).

What to do in Grasse molinard workshop bottling

Next I used the pipette to decant exactly the right amounts into my  bottle, while the parfumer jotted down my formula. ‘We keep this on file,’ she explained, ‘so when you run out we can prepare another bottle of your personalised perfume for you.’

Proudly clutching my bespoke bottle, I spent another hour touring the salon, picking up some gifts to take home and drinking in the beauty and history of Maison Molinard.

What to do in Grasse molinard outside selfie

What to do in Grasse molinard outside still

What to do in Grasse molinard silhouette

A truly unique experience, and one I will remember forever.

Want to read more about the perfume capital of the world? Read my post on ‘What to See and Do in Grasse‘. 

Think you can’t afford a family trip to the French Riviera? It could be more realistic than you think… YELLOH VILLAGE is a collection of glamping and premium holiday housing located all around France, Spain and Italy. The St Louis luxury campsite and aquatic park is conveniently located between Cannes and Grasse, allowing you quick and convenient access to the perfume capital of the world.



  1. Oh wow, this sounds amazing! I had no idea this was the perfume capital of the world – it seems my travel bucket list has just grown…

  2. jennifer durrans - March 12, 2017 reply

    Omg I’m crazy obsessed with perfume so this would be a dream for me! Love it!

  3. I love perfume, I love travel – this is my ideal break!! Thanks for sharing x

  4. This is literally my idea of heaven! I adore perfume so escaping to this place would be ideal for me! xxx

  5. It’s so wonderful that Molinard Perfumeries is a family owned company and has been passed down through five generations, and so very interesting that they use perfume stills designed by Gustave Eiffel. This must have been a wonderful experience for you!
    Sarah Bailey recently posted…Three Horseshoes Inn & Spa Leek: ReviewMy Profile

    • It was so amazing – literally one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done! x

  6. That looks like such a fantastic trip to take!!! So interesting – I would love to go there and do the same! Fab x

  7. This would be the ultimate trip for me – I love perfume. They would have had to drag me out of Molinard Parfumeries

  8. this sounds amazing!! I would love to visit one day and have a sniff at all the gorgeous perfumes
    Natasha Mairs recently posted…Hotel Chocolat Mother’s Day Sleekster BoxMy Profile

  9. What an amazing place, I may have to look into booking a weekend away here x
    stephanie recently posted…A peek inside my wardrobe – new shoe additions from EGOMy Profile

  10. Sounds like a great experience, I’d love to make my own perfume! And what a beautiful place!! 🙂
    Lianne recently posted…My new favourite post-workout snackMy Profile

  11. I had no idea of the connections to the perfume world here. Sounds like a great trip x

  12. What a great memory and souvenir! Smell and perfume evoke such memories. We’d love to visit the French Riviera!
    Baby Isabella recently posted…My Lucky Charms from NEXTMy Profile

  13. Lovely to know more about perfume and Provence! What a lovely experience and so wonderful that its family fun!

  14. What a fabulous experience the perfumery looks lovely. That course must have been really interesting and great fun.
    MELANIE EDJOURIAN recently posted…Zoomer Zupps Tiny Pups: DivaMy Profile

  15. It looks amazing there, I visited the South of France last year with family. Some of us when to Antibes and the rest to Grasse – I’m gutted I missed out on this! xo
    Rachel recently posted…Mother’s Day Gift GuideMy Profile

  16. chloee griffiths - March 20, 2017 reply

    oh my god this city looks amazing, looks like you had a greta time xo

  17. What beautiful photos! This looks like a great holiday to plan!
    Yaya recently posted…Happy Home, Happy You – Ways To Make Your Home Your Happy PlaceMy Profile

  18. Looks really lovely to explore here. Love the fact it’s the perfume capital too. I’d definitely come home with a few new bottles!
    Ashleigh recently posted…MOTHER’S DAY 2017 GIFT GUIDEMy Profile

  19. Wow what an interesting place to be! I think we might book this for a weekend too!

  20. What a fabbulous trip, you must have had so much fun the place looks so pictureresque and beautiful.
    Nayna Kanabar recently posted…10 essentials to pack in your carry on airline bag.My Profile

  21. […] travel? You might also like to read about my trips to BRUGES, GRASSE & […]

  22. […] (If you’re planning a visit to France, you might also be interested in my features on CHAMPAGNE and GRASSE.) […]

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