Such is the power of scent that it can bring forth recollections of treasured moments in time. Perfume-makers, such as Galimard in Grasse, France, have been perfecting their fragrance distillation techniques for centuries. Today, the company offers workshops where attendees can choose from 127 different “notes,” or scents, to create a personalized fragrance.
Fragrance is rooted in the everyday, the romantic, in cosmetics, the culinary arts, and even in the therapeutic arts. And it is undeniably intertwined with our memories. The smell of freshly baked bread or a certain perfume often recalls specific moments in time. So perhaps it is no surprise that companies like Grasse, France–based Charabot employ ingredients from olfactive families including gourmand, fruity, and citrus, as well as the more traditional, such as spicy, ambery/vanillic, aromatic, and floral scents.
After the French Revolution, Grasse experienced a historical high point of intellectualism, and a corresponding shift with the once-predominant tanning industry. As tanneries buckled beneath the weight of increasing taxes, they were supplanted by the burgeoning perfume industry. In addition to economic considerations, Grasse also boasted a great wealth of natural materials, and it wasn’t long before it was considered the world’s capital for the raw materials used in perfume making.
Today, Grasse, France, is renowned for its perfume industry—a monument of the region’s culture and history. Methods first developed in ancient times are still used for capturing fragrance, and Grasse perfumeries have been refining newer techniques, such as distillation, since the thirteenth century.
Charabot originated in 1817 as the Hugues Ainé Company. In 2012, Charabot was designated a Living Heritage Company (Enterprise du Patrimonie Vivant, or EPV) by the French Ministry of the Economy, Finance, and Industry in part as recognition of its purification, extraction, assembly, and distillation methods.
Grasse is also home to Galimard, a parfumerie established in 1747. Founder Jean de Galimard supplied King Louis and his court with perfume, pomades, and olive oil. The company still uses the natural resources native to Grasse—notably orange flower, tuberose, lavender, rose, and jasmine—to create its perfume. Galimard offers perfume-making workshops at Le Studio des Fragrances.
Text Cynthia Reeser Constantino