History of French Perfume

France is known for its majestic views, delicious foods, art, and luxurious lifestyles. And when it comes to the art of making perfumes, France grabs the top spot. In fact, several of the greatest names in the perfume scene came from France such as Christian Dior, Estee Lauder, and Chanel. France holds the highest international perfume sales in the world and French perfumes and cosmetics are the most well-known and respected brands in the world.

France is not the country that invented perfumes. In fact, perfumes have been used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The art of making perfumes are started by western civilization in Mesopotamia. It is used to hide bad body odors and make people look more attractive. Because bathing Is part of their everyday routine in their civilization, smelling good was very important.French Perfume

But it was until the Renaissance period where perfume was introduced in Europe. Back then, the only people who used perfumes were the royal and wealthy people. Some said that Catherine De Medicis, the wife of King Henri II, is the one who introduced perfume as a fashion in France. Back then, perfumes were just used to hide unwanted odors. The use of perfumes slowly became popular and due to its growing market in western society the perfumery industry in France was created. The 17th century was the time when the perfume business boomed in France. It even came to the point where they invented perfumed gloves. There was even a guild that was founded especially for gloves and perfume makers.

The Perfume Capital

Since the 18th century, Grasse is known to be the center of France’s perfume industry and the world’s perfume capital. The special microclimate in Grasse makes it the perfect place to grow aromatic plants that are used by the local perfume industry. The warm weather, sufficient soil and the abundant water are just some of Grasse’s secrets in creating aromatic perfumes. People come in Grasse to train on how to distinguish over 2,000 different kinds of scent.

Grasse produces rare scents like lavender, jasmine, orange blossom, wild mimosa, rose, and myrtle. And according to perfumes, jasmine takes the most time when it comes to harvesting and it is labor intensive since jasmine flowers have to be handpicked at dawn because that is the time where their scent is most developed. After handpicking them, they have to be treated immediately by cold enfleurage.

Over sixty perfumes companies are situated in Grasse. And 10,000 Grasse residents are employed by the perfume industry. Half of the business tax of Grasse comes from the perfume industry and the tourism and services that it produces.

Famous Perfumeries in Grasse

There are a total of three famous perfumeries in Grasse and all of them offers a public tour in which visitors can learn about the process of making perfumes. They also offer an interactive tour where visitors can make their own perfume.

  • Molinard: Molinard was founded in 1849. it is one of the oldest perfumeries in France. Molinard is not only famous for the aromatic perfumes they are also known for their luxurious bottles that are made of Baccarat crystal and Lalique Glass. They offer a tour with a fragrance course workshop in where clients can craft their personalized perfume.
  • Galimard Perfumery: Founded in 1747 by Jean De Galimard, Galimard Perfumery is known to be the third-oldest perfume company in the world. They provided the Royal Court a supply of ointment and perfumes.
  • Fragonard Perfumery: Established in 1926, Fragonard Perfumery is one of the oldest perfume factories in Grasse. What makes this perfumery special is that they have their own museum named Fragonard Musee de Parfum which holds rare items that is part of the 5,000-year history of perfume.

With today’s technology, the art of making perfumes with natural fragrances that are extracted from flowers is being replaced by chemically produced scents because it is much cheaper and easier to mass produce anywhere in the world. And that’s what sets France apart because, despite the advancements in technology, they still choose to produce high-quality perfumes that are made from the natural extract of plants and flowers with special methods and techniques that have been handed from generations to generations of perfumers. That’s why the French perfume cannot be replicated and replaced. And France continues to hold the reputation of being the source of exquisite perfumes in the world.