Grasse Gains Recognition From UNESCO For Its Perfume Savoir-Faire

Life in France, Perfume News Updates

For the perfume lovers out there this is great news. This week Grasse has been recognised by UNESCO and inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Grasse is a town in the Alpes-Maritimes region of France, located near Nice and Cannes. It is known within France and worldwide for its tradition of perfumery, going as far back as the 16th century when tannery was a booming business. The discovery that fragrant perfume essences could mask the pungent animal scent on leather gloves started a fashion trend in the Italian and French courts and so the tradition of perfumery in the region was born.

The recognition by UNESCO is for three facets relating to the savoir-faire, skills and knowledge of perfumery :

  • the growing of perfume plants
  • the processing of the raw materials
  • and also for the art of perfume composition itself.

Apparently the application was a 10 year process and Grasse was chosen out of 40 nominations. Jamaica’s reggae music was another proud recipient.

Grasse is no longer growing  plants in abundance as it did in its heyday. Today there are only 30 hectares reserved for cultivation, yet at its peak last century there were 2,000 hectares of fragrant crops. Grasse is renowned for its wonderful Rose Centifolia or Rose de Mai that benefits from the unique micro climate of the area.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to see the harvesting of the Rose de Mai  in the Grasse region. The rose has so many facets and is superbly floral, with green aspects and honey too. It really is a beautiful scent and when you smell a whole mountain of delicate petals, the aroma that emanates is simply heavenly. You can click-through here for photos from the day and even though it was raining, the roses were absolutely stunning and glistened with dew.

Let’s hope that there will be a renewed focus and interest in people setting up shop in the Grasse area in all fragrance related fields so that the area continues to flourish. 🌹💥🌹

Notes : Cover image by Megan In Sainte Maxime