Seemingly cradled by the surrounding cliffs and hills, the charming town of Grasse is famous as the centre of the world's perfume industry. Throughout much of the Middle Ages, Grasse was primarily known for its leather tanneries. Yet in the mid-16th century, the French queen Catherine de' Medici popularised scented leather gloves. As the hills surrounding Grasse are populated with fields of jasmine, roses and lavender (to name a few), the town was in an ideal position to maximise on the new fashion.
The perfume trade was an unprecedented success, and a number of the perfumeries founded at the time are still making new fragrances today. One of the town's oldest perfumeries is the Parfumerie Fragonard, which has been sited in its current premises since 1782. In the 1920s it gained its current name in tribute to Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Grasse's most famous artist. Nowadays, the perfume factory still produces perfumes, soaps and cosmetics using their time-honoured traditional methods.