The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 20

Inspiring, tempting and gorgeous, this issue is packed with destination features - Chartres with its gothic cathedral, the French Riviera, the Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau, the Tarn region, Valence - gateway to the south and more. Mouth-watering recipes, plus useful guides for those dreaming of living in France...

I had my own

I had my own “Nose”. All to myself. Grasse, the perfume capital of France, the most fragrant place on earth... Kevin Pilley takes a tour with his "nose"... The town didn’t always smell this nice. It used to stink,” my Nose told me. “It was a leather tanning town and the stench was unbearable. The first fragrance produced was for designer gloves. Rose water to mask the ghastly smell. Catherine de Medici endorsed them. And Grasse quickly became the perfume capital of the world.” I was being shown round “The Galimand Studio des Fragrances” in the Route de Cannes. My Nose was a perfume expert and professional petro-chemist. “Every perfume has its own unique composition made from one hundred and forty-seven notes,” my private Nose said. “Each perfume has the peak, the heart and the base or, fond note. The job of professional noses is to create a harmonious formula. When you visit Grasse you must be prepared to be seduced.” For four hundred heady years, the tiny village in the foothills of the Alps-Maritimes above the French Mediterranean coast has been the centre of the international perfume industry. “Chanel No.5” was invented there in 1922. It was the first perfume to use synthetic materials - aldehyde. But, every year twenty-seven tonnes of jasmine are still harvested from the surrounding countryside and used by the local “fumeries”. There is also a weekly market in the Genoa-inspired square, a rose festival in May and a jasmine festival in August. And the perfumeries are busier than ever. My “perfumerie” crawl moved on to the museum on the third floor of the yellowwalled “Fragonard” factory where I was given a new Nose who invited me to take a deep breath. “You are standing in the most fragrant place on earth,” my Nose informed me. “You can smell the whole world from here. The finest smells the earth can produce.” "You are standing in the most fragrant place on earth" My nose swooned and reeled off the aromas. “Turkish roses picked at dawn, Egyptian orange blossom, lavender from the plateaux of Haute Provence, local petal-less wild mimosa, Madagascan ylang-ylang, Californian lemons, Calabrian bergamot, Israeli grapefruit, Indian Ocean vanilla, Russian coriander, Somalian frankincense, Sri Lankan sandalwood, Philipinno cloves, Japanese ginger, Kenyan cedar, Italian iris, Guatemalan cardamom, South African geranium…”

I couldn’t hold my breath any longer. The spiel was highly concentrated, and I was starting to hyperventilate. But my Nose asked me to muster one more inhalation. She wanted to educate my nostrils. Her nose told her I didn’t know my “Intuition” from my “Knowing”. Or, my “Youth Dew” from my “Brut”. “If you want to smell the world you need only to come to the French Riviera. We can now simulate the world’s most arousing animal musk. Did you know ambergris is a substance secreted by the digestive system of sperm whales? And castor is produced by beaver glands?” There was a lot of talk about modern, high-tech techniques and meeting the qualitative and quantitative expectations of the modern marketplace and making human beings smell desirable in an ecologically desirable way. Having finished the maceration rooms and proud of myself for finding out that ylang-ylang comes from a tree belonging to the custard apple family, my next stop was “The International Museum of Perfumery”.