Grasse is the home of French perfume, but there are plenty more things to do in Grasse than just buying exquisite smelling scents. Located just a little way inland from the French Riviera, Grasse is easily accessible in a day trip from Nice or for a longer stay.
Grasse is a great change of scenery for those who have spent most of their time in the Cote d’Azur by the seaside as the town is located in the hills north of Cannes. From certain vantage points around the town, incredible views of the countryside can be seen.
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How to get to Grasse
If you’re game enough to hire a car in the French Riviera, then a drive to Grasse is fairly straightforward, though will involve using toll roads. From Nice or Antibes, the drive will take around 45 minutes to 1 hour and if you’re based in Cannes, then it will only take around 30 minutes.
Grasse is serviced by a railway station, though it is a 15 minute uphill walk to get from the station up into the main part of the old town. The walk is also not marked particularly well. I would not attempt this in the dark – instead, I’d get a taxi to the centre of town.
From Nice, the rail journey will take just over an hour from Nice-Ville all the way to Grasse.
The good news is, you don’t have to change train lines as the railway winds itself around the coast via Cannes and then inland to Grasse.
A train trip from Nice to Grasse will does 9.60 euros each way.
If you’re keen on saving a bit of money then you could look to take the bus to Grasse, though the travel time essentially doubles compared to rail. From Nice, take the bus from the Nice Airport and from Cannes, the bus leaves from the main bus depot at the station.
The benefit of using the bus is that it does drop you right in the centre of town, so you can avoid the walk uphill from the railway station.
The bus will cost 1.50 euros one way, so it is a cheaper option for those budget conscious travellers.
Where to stay in Grasse
Though it is very possible to base yourself in Nice for a French Riviera holiday (which is what I recommend), there are also plenty of accommodation options in Grasse.
For those wanting a Nice base, look to stay at the Mercure Marche Aux Fleurs in the old town – it is perfectly located and a lovely hotel.
Things to do in Grasse
Explore the old town
Long time readers will think I sound like a broken record, but truly one of the best things to do in the towns on the French Riviera is to simply allow yourself to get lost in the laneways of the old towns and Grasse is no exception. Less glitzy and overt than some other Cote d’Azure towns, the lack of pretentiousness in Grasse only adds to its charm.
Start your visit in Place de 24 Août, the town square, and wander the many streets and alleys, ducking in and out of the quirky and quaint artisan stores along your travels.
Take a tour of one of the town’s famous parfumeries
Grasse is the unofficial world home of perfume and fragrance, so it will be no surprise to know that three of France’s most esteemed perfume companies have their factories here. Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard all run tours of their perfume producing factories with regular tours leaving throughout the day.
There is probably no need to undertake more than one (unless you’re a particular perfume afficionardo) as taking the tour will teach you about the history of the company and also the process of fragrance creation.
If you’re particularly keen, it is also possible to book in to a perfume making class, where you’ll be able to make your own scent under the instruction of a nez (trained fragrance maker).
Visit the Notre Dame de Puy de Grasse
This imposing Romanesque cathedral has been a feature of Grasse’s landscape since the 13th Century. Though it may look relatively simple compared to other famous French churches, the real wonder lies inside the cathedral, where paintings from various French artists are on display.
One of local Grasse artist Charles Nègre’s works is featured, as is Jean-Honore Fragonard’s (who is who Fragonard Parfumerie is named in honour of).
The rustic feel inside the cathedral is quite different to the grandiose nature of most churches and the beautiful stained glass windows add a splash of colour and flair to the otherwise simple church.
Take in the views
There are several spots to take in the magnificent views of the French hillside stretching all the way back to the French Riviera coastline.
One such spot is at the bus depot, where you alight from the bus trip from Nice or Cannes. Another is located just behind the Notre Dame de Puy de Grasse, where the lush, tree lined countryside of the inland Provence-Alpes region is able to be enjoyed.
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