Google “perfume capital of the world” and see what comes up. Chances are, you’ll see results for Grasse, France – a small town that you may not have heard of before, but is the home to a long tradition of flower fields and perfumes.
With so many scents to choose from, how do you make sure that your perfume is unique and fits your personality? Make your own, of course!
Today I headed to Grasse to do just that. Grasse is a small town in the French Rivera, not too far from Cannes. I was easily able to reach the town by train, but the train stop is far from the parfumerie – I walked two miles in the hot sun, with the help of Google Maps for navigation, of course. Sigh.
There are three major parfumeries, or perfume making houses, in Grasse: Galimard, Molinard, and Fragonard. I chose Parfumerie Galimard because it was recommended to me by my friend Amy, and I was too lazy to do any more research/read reviews on the other perfumeries in Grasse that offer “make-your-own” workshops.
As soon as I walked into the studio, the overwhelming scent of perfumes hit me, and hopefully masked all my sweatiness. ;D I signed in, paid my 45 euros (which I have to say, I think is a great deal, considering you get 100mL of your own perfume to take home!), and waited for them to call me. The perfumerie offers workshops in several different languages, but the only participants for the English session today was myself and a middle aged couple – I think they may have been German since they were speaking a language amongst themselves that I could not understand.
A master perfumer walked us through the steps. The lady was a bit older and looked a bit strict, but she was the kind of woman who you could tell was really nice when she smiled, if that makes any sense. Anywho, it started out with smelling a few small containers and picking which two you liked – this was hard because I kind of liked everything! The ones I picked, according to my instructor, were “fruity” and “oriental woody” so she grabbed the jars that fit those categories and told me to choose between those for the base notes. The base notes are exactly what they sound like – they serve as the foundation of the perfume and last on the skin the longest. I ended up choosing santal, musc floral, ambreine, and vanille as my base notes, and my expert instructor wrote down the quantity of each I should put in. I added them to the graduated cylinder myself which made the process feel very hands-on.
Next comes the heart notes. I had to smell ALL that was available and choose six. Phew! The six I chose were complex fruité, cocktail, fleurs de lilas, jasmin musqué, rose pétales, and magnolia. As you can see, I was attracted to the fruity/flowery scents.
After that, we were given a five-minute break, which allowed my nose to recover. Finally, we chose the top notes – the ones that blow away within the first five minutes of wear, which sounds a bit pointless. But they’re the first notes that you smell when you first spray the perfume, and they were really strong! Again, I smelled errthaaang that was available and it was hard to choose what I liked. I ended up going with freesia, péche blanche, manque, thé vert, and litchee. Yum!
By this point they were pushing me to think of a name for my perfume, since they were printing out my label, and since I mostly picked fruity/floral notes, I chose the name “Salade des fruits”… aka Fruit salad. Yes I totally derped on the name, don’t judge me. If I could do it again, I’d probably call it Eau de Qinqiu or something like that. The man next to me named his “Mr. Ed”, after all.
At last, the perfume was mixed, and I purchased a cute perfume bottle for 12 euro(the default one is dark and doesn’t even spray, and I wanted something nice!). My instructor smelled my graduated cylinder and said “Ahh… delicious!” and I smelled it and it smelled really good! A great mix of fruity and floral. I hope it wears as nicely on me 🙂 Unfortunately I have to wait two weeks to use it needs time to blend. You also get to walk away with a “certificate” that declares you as a student perfumer.
I had a wonderful time at Galimard Studio creating my own perfume. This is probably my favorite souvenir from France and one that will bring me back to the French Rivera every time I wear it 🙂