International Perfume Museum

Created in 1989, the International Perfume Museum of Grasse is divided into two complementary areas. The International Perfume Museum, located in the town center, focuses on the role that perfumes have played in civilizations. The gardens, located in the plains of Grasse, are home to a conservatory of plants used in the composition of perfumes.

Grasse and perfume

In the Middle Ages, the town of Grasse was especially famous for its tanning and glove-making activities. The tanners and master glove makers were thus renowned throughout Europe. But leather tanning was based on smelly methods, and the rich bourgeois and nobles complained about the unpleasant smell of their leather gloves and accessories. Until one day a craftsman has the idea of dipping his articles in baths of perfumed essence. From the 16th century onwards, the gloves sold by craftsmen in Grasse were scented, and the fragrances they exhaled became a real selling point. Perfumery developed strongly in the region of Grasse and was carried by a land favorable to the cultivation of fragrant plants.

In the 17th century, plants from all continents were imported into the region: jasmine comes from India, tuberose is native to Italy. In the 18th century, leather work was abandoned in favor of perfumery  which became the main activity of the town in the 19th century: flower gardens multiplied in the countryside. Struggling at the end of the 19th century and in the 20th century, the perfume industry of Grasse was able to transform itself and find a new balance, thanks to the image of quality, know-how and luxury of French perfumery.

International Perfume Museum

What better place than Grasse, the cradle of luxury perfume of which France is the emblem, to set up the International Perfume Museum? Created in 1989, it offers visitors, through several museum tours, the opportunity to discover the importance of perfume in many cultures through the centuries. The history of this activity is recounted, from the beginnings to industrialization, from industrialists to the big Houses whose names still convey a certain idea of luxury.

It is a complex know-how, based on the work of many generations, which is highlighted in its noble, refined and elegant aspects. The different aspects are addressed, with an anthropological approach that takes an interest in all aspects: from raw materials to distillation and manufacturing processes, whether industrial or handmade, including trading, design work and product enhancement.

Several thematic journeys

The museum is organized in five main parts, with a historical and chronological approach that spans four millennia: Antiquity, the Middle Ages, modern and contemporary periods, each period having its own connection to perfumes. Contemporary themes are also addressed: elegance, classicism, magic, dynamism, frivolity, hygiene.

The International Perfume Museum appeals to all the senses. Numerous precious objects, designed to host these subtle fragrances, are on display: alabaster, ceramics, glazed earthenware, and the most finely worked metals please the eye and amaze.

The lively museography takes an interest in the past without forgetting the present and the future. Visitors are offered an outlook work, with reflections on globalization, marketing, communication and new markets.

MiP’s Gardens

The most subtle fragrances, which invite themselves in the wake of the greatest celebrities, which help us to feel beautiful and seductive, are most often born in flowers.

The gardens are home to many fragrant plants, which flower in the sunshine of the French Riviera. Visitors stroll here amidst roses, jasmines, tuberoses, broom, orange blossom, geranium beds and precious lavender plants. The intoxicating smells are an integral part of the visitor’s experience.

The gardens of the International Perfume Museum, located at the gates of Grasse, extend over 2 hectares, around an agricultural basin and an old canal. This conservatory ensures the preservation of species traditionally cultivated for perfumers, as well as the enhancement of other collections of aromatic or fragrant plants, and thus pays tribute to the diversity of local agriculture.

A permanent exhibition offers a complementary scientific approach, explaining the role played by scent in plants. The notions of ecosystem, insects, scents and history are addressed.

Informations pratiques

  • Visiting time: 1 to 2 hours minimum for each site
  • Opening days and schedule of the museum: closed on May 1, December 25 and January 1. Open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in summer)
  • Opening days and schedule of the gardens: closed on May 1, December 25 and January 1. Open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (spring), from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (summer), from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (autumn).
  • Address of the museum: 2 Boulevard du Jeu de Ballon, 06130 Grasse
  • Address of the gardens: 979 chemin des Gourettes 06370 Mouans-Sartoux
  • Distinctions: labeled “Musée de France”
  • Accessibility: facilities for people with reduced mobility
  • Website: https://www.museesdegrasse.com/

Museums in the Alpes-Maritimes

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