Parfum de France: Discover Mysteries the Nose Knows

As follow on to our recent blog on French wine, today we explore the art of perfume-making which can be as complex and mysterious as the world of winemaking. With the recently-released documentary Nose, you will learn intriguing secrets from the masters about what it takes to create perfumes that transport the wearer to new and exciting places. Dior's master perfumer, François Demachy is the main subject of the documentary taking you into his world of sensory discovery that produces best-selling perfumes under his stewardship.  Born in Grasse, the French capital of the perfume industry, Demachy recounts formative experiences such as how the smell of jasmine was an inextricable part of his adolescence. A scent, Demachy says, can fire the imagination bringing the wearer to a rose garden in France or a vineyard along the Italian riviera. Scented oils, perfumes and other fragrances have been adorned by people since early civilization. Perfumes, make us feel happy by invoking memories or providing a means of virtual escape from daily routines.

In addition to the minds of the master perfumers, the film also brings you into the fields that produce the raw materials ultimately harvested, transformed and distributed for use in creating impactful perfumes.  Demachy feels that it's important to see the perfume in its natural habitat, which gives us the opportunity to virtually travel along with him throughout the documentary to places such as patchouli fields in Indonesia, a bergamot harvest in Italy, rose farming in France, or even ambergris hunting in Ireland. Emphasizing the immense international coordination, it takes to build perfumes, Demachy gladly shares the stage with farmers and growers from around the world, acknowledging the importance of their invaluable natural resources.

An informative article in France Today highlights the importance of Grasse situated in the Alpes-Maritimes area of France, an area rich in the finest raw materials, thanks to its sundrenched fields full of meticulously tended flowers. In addition to Dior’s Francois Demachy, Grasse is also the birthplace of some of the world’s most celebrated master perfumers who work for Hermès, Vuitton and Chanel to name a few. The beautiful French town of Grasse, just north of Cannes and an easy drive from Nice, is an incredibly popular destination for those holidaying in the French Riviera region. Grasse offers an opportunity for visitors to challenge and develop one of the most under-rated of our senses and to, quite literally, wake up and smell the roses. Perfume is the central industry in town, and one which employs thousands to this day across various large and small perfumeries. Visitors to town are able to learn more about the process - from the incredible cost of creating a single liter of rose essence, the global supply chains for botanicals, evolving techniques, and the artistry and chemistry involved in creating a scent.  Grasse’s most famous perfume houses: Fragonard, Molinard, and Galimard even offer visitor tours. Bon apprentissage du parfum!

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