Seemingly cradled by the surrounding cliffs and hills, the
charming town of Grasse is famous as the center of the world's
perfume industry. Throughout much of the Middle Ages, Grasse was
mainly 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.