Patty Wonka and the Perfume Factory

Can we talk just briefly about the gorgeous men that work in the perfume factories in Grasse? Well, maybe not yet, but we will at some point.

For those of you that don’t know, I am with Sniffapalooza in Grasse. This is probably the best year to have gone on this trip if you ever wanted to see the magic behind the magic. Yesterday was a trip to Mane and then to Robertet, both of which are the makers of the magical scented fun we all obsess about so much.

Mane took us through their factory, the extraction process, how they mix perfumes, the robotic pieces of it. The smells were overhwhelming sometimes. They handed us a little Immortelle flower from big bags to smell and vanilla pods. I’m sitting here thinking of everything we saw and have no way to summarize it except to say that the magic behind the magic? Incredibly cool. Mane has a new process called Jungle Extraction (I may not have this name right) where they can take the scent extraction process to wherever it needs to go, it’s completely portable. He took some popcorn, put it in the tube, filled it up with gas, yakked with us for a few minutes, then sent the gas out the other end, wound up with a little big of liquid, which he dipped with tester strips, handed them out, and we had the smell of unbuttered popcorn. It was like having the magician tell you how he’s going to do the trick, slow his hands way down, and when he pulls the rabbit out from behind your ear, you still have no idea how he did that. This allows them to gather and reduce to a physical thing a scent from the place that it is, send it back to the lab for analysis and recreation. He says it doesn’t work for everything, but they used it for some of the notes in the new Mugler Womanity due to hit the Streets in August, I believe?

The gorgeous and incredibly nice Etienne from Etat Libre d’Orange was at Mane and went on the tour with us. Mane is now making his perfumes now. He kept us charmed and not just a little drooling over his perfect skin, face, etc., but just how unfailingly kind and gracious he is. He would also highly recommend Tilda Swinton’s new movie “I Am Love.” It’s on my list to see when I get back.

After running horribly behind and being late for our next visit at Robertet, we sadly said goodbye to the lovely people at Mane.

Robertet whisked us into two rooms, and then walked us through perfume classifications, with sniffing of the individual notes and some examples of finished perfumes of each type. Now, you have to understand that Robertet doesn’t let anyone come in and do this kind of thing normally, and I have to hand it all to the Karens at Sniffa for getting us an in there. Buried in this sniffing session presented by Robertet perfumers Karine Spehner Vinchon and Mathieu Nardin was this great little Vetiver perfume. Oh, wait, it’s the new one from L’Artisan that Karine did!

Coeur de Vetiver Sacre. If you likes you some vetiver, you’ll have a new one to spritz happily in a couple of months. This is a seriously great, soft vetiver. The list of notes are in another room right now (read I’m too lazy to go dig it out of a bag), but serious love. Rumor has it that Printemps in Paris already has it as an exclusive for a month or two.

After a lovely dinner down in the little square in Grasse that included some duck and caramel and fleur de sel ice cream, we have now completed day one. Today is a trip to Cannes, Antibes, St. Paul de Vence. I see a little shopping in my future. xoxox

  • David D says:

    This post is so fascinating! I wish I could be there right now! Thank you for sharing this experience with all of us that are committed followers of this blog! Keep writing!

  • Isa says:

    I’m so jealous!
    That journey is in my TO DO list. This year I’ll be near, in Avignon (Provence) but the rest of my holiday will be in other regions of the south of France.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience. It’s really interesting :)

  • Cynthia says:

    Big time jealous! I would have loved to have been there, but for relatives arriving from Australia tomorrow. Please tell us everything!

  • AnnieA says:

    Was looking for the “seething with envy” emoticon — will add the disconsolate-looking monkey: :(|) Hope everyone has a super sniffapalooza…

  • Haunani says:

    What a wonderful-sounding adventure. You had me with the fleur de sel ice cream and the L’Artisan vetiver!

  • Tamara*J says:

    How amazing.


  • maggiecat says:

    This is the sort of trip that’s on my “bucket list” and I’m thrilled to read about it (more than a little jealous as well, but I’m trying to be an adult. Trying hard…) Have a wonderful time!

  • Isn’t Grasse something? Even though it doesn’t exactly conform to the picturesque image of bygones, being a rather touristy town now.
    The Jean-Honoré Fragonard museum is quite appealing, even if it doesn’t have to do with perfume itself. And there is also a firmenich perfumery branch there, even though it’s the Robertet materials which are to die for.

    Not really keen on the Vetiver Sacre, so more for you!:d

  • Musette says:

    Duck and caramel? Is it like Polle con mole?

    The trip sounds wonderful! I would be jealous but I’m too exhausted and I can’t smell anything much right now anyway (can smell lemons and oranges but not a lot of the less linear works). And I’m off to the sandblaster/painter, to wheedle him into ramping up his timetable…maybe some Carnal Flower? Not that he can smell it, either….the chems in a paint booth are terrifyingly ‘chemical’.

    Carry on with your fabulous trip. Report back!

    xo >-)

  • karin says:

    Wow! Sounds wonderful, Patty! Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us. So cool that you can post realtime and not wait til you get back. Love the immediacy of the web.

  • Bee says:

    I guess I wanted to see my avatar monster… but I’m also very curious about that portable extraction unit, imagine walking around with it… sounds exciting!

  • Ann N. says:

    Ooh Patty, it all sounds just dee-lightful and dee-lovely, as well as dee-licious!! It’s making my nose and my mouth water. Thanks so much for posting all the wonderful details so we can all share vicariously in your trip!

  • Louise says:

    Ooh, don’t know if I’m more envious of the cuties, the Vetiver, or the Fleur de Sel ice cream-enjoy it all!

  • mals86 says:

    Fascinating! Those raw materials… I’d love to smell them. Would love to see the Sharing Magicians, too.

  • Wordbird says:

    I’m jealous. It sounds faaaabulous and I wish I was there. :)

  • Fiordiligi says:

    Hello! So glad you’re having such a fab time with Sniffa. Grasse is fascinating isn’t it? And you are visiting my favourite today, St Paul de Vence! Be sure to peep into the courtyard at La Colombe d’Or where we always stay.

    Robertet would definitely be my choice of where to visit “behind the scenes” so it is fantastic that you got to experience the place.

    Look forward to seeing you in London shortly!