Friday, February 23, 2018

Best Smelling City in France


My very last day of sightseeing on the Côte d’Azur was a solo train trip. I took a break from packing and cleaning to visit Grasse one last time.

I have previously only visited Grasse by car. I knew it was perched on a hill, so I did some research online to find out how walkable the old town was from the train station. 

With all the trip planning I’ve done this year, I’ve come to really enjoy reading whiny reviews on Tripadvisor. They make me laugh. Whiny reviews are usually written by middle-aged Americans who haven’t traveled much. They get incensed by things that are common in Europe like buildings with no elevators or drinks with no ice. I love the fact that people get offended enough by these things to spend time bashing it online.

While researching Grasse, I came across two reviews about the walk from the train station. One reviewer said it was a horrible walk that left them sore for days afterwards. Another said the walk would only be difficult for an ailing octogenarian. I chose to believe the second person. It turns out the first person was not just another complainer. They were right. The second person must climb mountains for a living because they are crazy.

I went up and up and up and up. Up steep stairs and up never-ending hills. My calves were burning, but as a reward the views kept getting better. After what felt like climbing Mt. Everest, I reached the top of the village and the cathedral.




Once you reach the top of the hill, Grasse is very pleasant to walk around. Not only are the buildings beautiful and the views amazing, but the whole city smells like perfume.

Grasse is the perfume-manufacturing capital of France (and probably the world). Several perfume factories are based in Grasse. I’ve done the free tour of Fragonard several times and it’s very interesting to learn about how perfume is made. Read here to learn about how they make perfume.







Fun story- on a previous visit, our GPS led us astray and we mistakenly drove down the pedestrian-only street above. We ended up having to reverse down the whole street while getting awkwardly stared at by everyone around us.

Unfortunately, the walk downhill was not more relaxing. After checking the train schedule and realizing there wasn’t another for 2.5 hours if I missed the next one, I practically ran down the hill. I got a little lost but made it on the train with 30 seconds to spare.


I have so enjoyed exploring the Riviera and Provence this year. I’ve already planned a vacation back to visit in the distant future and what we will see next time. :)

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