The Grasse really is Greener

Travelogues really are somewhat annoying, yes? But not being annoying  isn’t something I do.

After the lovely day at Robertet and Mane, it was a tourist day as we headed off to Cannes, Antibes and St. Paul de Vence.  Cannes is kind of a mess, but we did get our pictures taken in front of the big theater on the red carpet.  And the yachts.  I mean, there’s just no beat-up fishing boats anywhere in that harbor. Something about that just makes me a little sad. Isn’t there a room for just a little bit of a laboring boat in all of that opulence?  Maybe not.  The main street in Cannes is just lined with all the high end shops – Gucci, Chanel, Hermes, Vuitton.  We didn’t stop in there, but we did find a little perfume shop that we descended on like a plague of perfume-crazed locusts.  And you know what was in there? The new one from Nasomatto, Nuda.  Skanky jasmine!!!!!!   Serious love.  Just enough indoles in it to keep it interesting, but it doesn’t keep getting interesting so much that you keep having the vague sense that maybe you weren’t careful when you went to the potty.  It softens out to a more honeysuckle’ish jasmine after the open – still beautiful, but it doesn’t stay at that level of overpowering, which, while lovely, is too much for me to wear around for several hours. I love it for about 1-1.5 hours, then I need it to wipe itself and stop making a scene.

Several of  us bought the Nuda.  All of us got some violet and/or rose ice cream from the shop across the street.  Ben  & Jerry’s would make a killing if they’d throw some violet in one of their ice creams.  Off on the tour again. Until we spotted the Micallef store across the street, and we promptly peeled off from the large group for some other shopping and told them we’d see them at the bus later.

Micallef is one of those perfume companies that I think make some gorgeous stuff, a little overpriced in the U.S. market, some of it a little the same, but it always makes me happy to wear it.  This store had some things that I hadn’t tried before or even known they made. They make a fig!  Which I bought. And I finally got to try that Shannan, a soft, gorgeous incense, which I also bought.  I didn’t buy the gardenia or the lily of the valley or some of the other florals, but they were all really pretty. What I didn’t know about Micallef is once you buy the bottle, apparently you can just buy the refills from them directly. I’m not sure exactly how this works, but it’s supposed to be a lot cheaper? If I get around to refilling a bottle, I’ll post the details.

After a lovely panini lunch in the harbor, it was back in the bus for a trip to the Picasso museum in Antibes.  Picasso?  Not so much for  me, but the view from the top of his museum over the harbor is amazing.

Then it was on for the too-short part of our day, the stop in St. Paul de Vence.  Picture right above. Seriously cute little town, much like all those walled cities in Italy, one big shopping street through the middle of town, and we had 45 minutes there..  Yes, this is the reason why I’m not crazy about doing anything in groups.  Serious shopping needed to be done here, and there was no time to do it.

Back to Grasse, and we had like 30 minutes to grab food, champagne and all the other stuff we had accumulated and head to the room we had decided we were going to have our “getting to know each other” soiree in.  We invited everyone on the Sniffa trip to have some light refreshments and champagne with peach liquer (this is way yum, btw) or whatever alcoholic thing they preferred.

You know, that night started off so innocently.  By the end of the night, there were men in the pool below us, we had about 15 women and one guy squished onto a small balcony (did I mention how hot and humid it is here?) telling stories, while we hooted and hollered at the one guy in the pool area that decided to drop trou.  It’s a good thing we had run out of champagne an hour or two before that happened.  It was a great time, and it always makes me so happy to realize how lovely it is when people get together around a shared interest.  Many are people you would have never met or thought you had much in common with, but when you start talking about the one thing you both love, that community grows as you get to know those other people beyond perfume.  That’s what I love the most about this Sniffa traveling trips – the people you get to meet are really wonderful and warm and interesting and funny.  It’s like the days we get to spend here with you guys on the blog, but in person.

Okay, I’ll stop.  It’s about 1 in the morning here, and I need to get this done and get to bed!  Today was all IFF and Firmenich. What you need to know about today is, well, Fabian.  Fabian is the naturals perfumer for IFF.  He works just on naturals, the product selection, working with the farmers and extraction to make sure he gets what they need, finding new facets of those naturals.  Now, he started off his presentation to this gaggle of women in that bored French way, presenting the tester strips of product for us to sniff. And we had questions, lots of them.  As he realized that he was talking to people who really loved this like he did, he got all animated, and his cute little face lit up – wait, did I mention the gorgeous men that work in the perfume plants in Grasse? – and he was joking and teasing us about what was next.  It’s an amazing thing to watch someone’s passion emerge as he realized he was with kindred spirits who loved hearing him talk about how the Vetiver dabbed on our wrist would turn into a grapefruit smell in an hour or how they’d found out that not using bamboo for extraction for some other thing had brought out a completely different smell.

So today concluded the factory/plant part of our trip. We have some time to spend at Molinard and Fragonard on Friday, but that’s it.  Tomorrow is Nice and Monte Carlo, but I’m skipping that in favor of sleeping in after that amazing meal we had tonight and a leisurely day of reading, lunching, shopping, drinking, pool laying-about, but not necessarily in that order.

Now, one last thing.  I get to make a perfume on Friday.  Give me 5 notes you would put in a perfume and what your idea behind it is.  I’m just so not creative on this stuff, but I’ll happily try and make one of you all’s ideas!

  • london says:

    This is a cheat but it’s the 5 notes that I have listed for the long lost Gobin-Daude Nuit au Desert: oud, hibiscus, spice, patchouli, oakmoss. Please see if you can work the magic! Did you go upstairs to the bar thing in the Micallef shop where they mix to your specification? I keep meaning to try that.

  • mary says:

    I’m with Melanie– pix please! And here is my fragrant 5– Cardamom. Mango. Vanilla. Sandalwood. And something milky– I don’t know what that would be, though. Or, perhaps Lilac. To approximate the way my baby’s breath smelled, in her first week of life. My best friend cut a huge vase of lilacs for me, that week. :x\:d/

  • Jennifer says:

    My fragrance submission would be:
    either orange or tangerine peel for citrusyness/oil
    a gardinia/honeysuckle smell like the topnotes of Michael by Micheal Kors-something very sweet evokeing the fresh/green and slightly decayed aspects of real honeysuckle
    Leather? Galbanum? Cinnamon/carnation? Vanilla?(I’m not sure -you would have to choose here)
    Teakwood in the drydown

  • melanie says:

    to heck with the five notes you would put in a perfume. How about photos of five hunky French men from Grasse?

  • Madea says:

    My grandparents attend a church that was built in 1830 and has been in constant use. I’ve always loved the smell, especially when it’s cool out.

    Maybe orris root (for a dusty effect), beeswax, teak, and just a little costus root? I don’t know what the fifth would be.

    Violet ice cream? I’m in!

  • Haunani says:

    Violet ice cream sounds like a dream! Hmmm…I’d love to smell a salty violet something along the lines of the salty lily of Vanille Galante, but maybe without vanilla. So, let’s see… a citrus (mandarin, lemon, or yuzu?), violet, sea salt (salicylates?), vetiver, and maybe white musk.

  • Musette says:

    I am on a vetiver kick but I’m getting that burned smell from the essential oil . I probably need to dilute it a bit more but …the flies HATE it!

    smells funny, though!


  • carter says:

    Something skanky with costus. I’m on a skanky costus kick at the moment, hence the frequent applications of Rumeur, even though it is Just.So.Wrong for the 103-degree heat.

  • Flora says:

    Wow, what a great experience, I am green with envy!

    OKay, 5 notes only? That’s hard, but how about something that might evoke the Grasse countryside, so you can smell it later and have fond memories?

    Galbanum(or green note of your choice), wisteria, jasmine sambac, coumarin/hay and benzoin. NO idea how those would all play together, but hey, you will have an adventure no matter what you use!

  • mals86 says:

    So glad you’re enjoying, Patty, and letting all of us vicariously enjoy too.

    5 notes… 5 notes only… ‘K, got it: aldehydes, carnation, rose, ylang, sandalwood.

    Hmmm. Or… bergamot, jasmine, tuberose, sandalwood, musk.

    Or… peach, rose, violet, oakmoss, sandalwood.

    Dang, this is hard.

  • Cheryl says:

    Sounds heavenly. Makes me wish I was in the south of France going to perfume boutiques, meeting gorgeous men, eating great food, and drinking peach liquors… I don’t know why!

    Perfume: coriander, peach skin, sandalwood, musk, aloeswood

  • tammy says:

    Oh dear God, this new avatar is just wrong on so many levels…..

    • Shelley says:

      LOL…but it does seem to be firmly in the, erm, indolic camp…

      …maybe hay? An unusually colored steaming haystack? no? (trying… ;) )

      • Jennifer says:

        To me it looks like your avatar said MORE HERSHEY’S CHOCOLATE WAAAAAYYYY too many times and at too high a volume to a PMS-ing female who was preparing banana splits!

        • Jennifer says:

          Mine looks like a crab with Magneto’s (from X-men)helmet.

          • tammy says:

            Jennifer it DOES look like Magneto’s helmet! Too funny! And Shelley, yea, a steaming pile of SUMTHIN’, huh??? I am so glad I didn’t mention heavy indolic jasmine in my post, even though that’s what I meant!

  • tammy says:

    Hmmmmm….even though my favorite note of all is rose, if I were allowed 5 ingredients, they’d be carnation, jasmine, tobacco, oakmoss and whatever it is that smells like kitty fur……I’d call it Carnal Pussy, just to be ornery.

    This blog is my first stop, every day…thanks so much for always making me laugh and puttin’ me some knowledge, too!

    • Linda says:

      Fenugreek isn’t a bad simulacrum for kitty fur, in enough dilution. Or maybe costus, or orris, for different takes on that multifaceted scent.

  • nbh says:

    Hi Patty,

    I am glad you are enjoying your trip and letting us enjoy it vicariously. Here are my suggestions for a new perfume: iris for earthiness, a wee bit of leather (polished saddlery type), jasmine for a little uplift and a little skank, something very sparkling green like galbanum, and oakmoss because oakmoss makes everything better.

  • Tiara says:

    Yeah, travelogues are boring except yours contain perfume escapades so much more interesting!

    Gee, if you could find a way to mix up something that ends up smelling like Sotto Voce you’d grab my attention. (As I recall it’s heliotrope, sandalwood, vanilla, tuberose and ylang-ylang).

    Come up with something unique. And you’ve got to give it a name! And perhaps some ad copy to go along with it?!

  • marko says:

    Hows about:

    Bitter Orange
    and a touch of Patchouli

    Your trip sounds amazing – it’s great to live vicariously through your adventures until I can start my own (5 days and counting…..).

  • ScentRed says:

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I spent 2 weeks in France 15 years ago and this has brought back many fond memories.

    Here are my notes for a sexy summer fragrance.

    • Iris pallida because it is so breathtakingly beautiful
    • Orange blossom to add quiet harmony to the soprano voice of the iris
    • Tangerine peel for bitter, tart, refreshing feel
    • Leather to keep it a bit sexy, and
    • Sandalwood to nestle everything in, because everything good ends in sandalwood (IMHO)

    I’d call it Juliet.

  • maggiecat says:

    Oh this sounds so delightful – and it makes me all the more determined to go on one of these trips someday! Have fun with your perfume. I’m not much help with the notes – my faves are rose, lavender, vanilla, neroli, musk, and sandalwood, and those would be a hot mess mixed together, I expect. Which is why I leave the mixing to professionals! Enjoy!

  • pyramus says:

    Carnation (lots of it), tobacco, tarragon, (real) oakmoss, sandalwood. Good luck.

    No, wait. Carnationrosejasmine, tobaccoleathervanilla, tarragonaniseclove, oakmossamberopoponax, sandalwoodcedarrosewood. Does that still count as only five?

    I was in Grasse a long, long time ago, and we toured a perfumery (Fragonard), but if I had known then what I know now, and had not been so young and innocent, I would have figured out a way to ditch the tour group and just do the whole perfume thing for a couple of days. I am envious of you!

  • Style Spy says:

    Boring travelogues are annoying. Your travelogues are fun.

  • Shelley says:

    Ah, group travel…best done when group think is more or less in sync with own preferences. Sounds like you are carving a path, though, pool lounger… ;)

    Yay for Fabio and sharing shared passions! Sounds delightful. As for composing your own fragrance…you are so sweet for soliciting. But no, I won’t bite. I play that game often enough…but right now, I’m going to sit back and have my own form of lounging, just waiting for the report on what you do end up creating… :) :) :))

    Meanwhile, I’m pulling out the ice cream maker. And seeing what I can do about this violet idea.

  • eggomania says:

    I’m actually leaving tomorrow for the south of france for 2 weeks for my annual summer hols. Don’t skip Nice – there’s great shopping if you go to the Galeries Lafayette there – good perfume selection, and the basement food hall is lovely. They sell all the Reminiscence scents at the jewellery counter as it’s a costume jewellery brand. Also get gelato in brioche at Crema di Gelato in the Palais de Justice square in the old town!

  • Pattie says:

    Patty, make your perfume smell just like the champagne with peach liqueur – I dont know what the notes would be, but you’d be happy wearing it! What a great trip.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    Sounds like you had a great day – in fact, a great week so far. Aaah, my beloved St Paul de Vence!

    You know, I don’t really want to devise my own perfume because Jacques Guerlain already did it all so perfectly…..

    Drink some more champagne for me, please!

  • lulllull says:

    Sounds like you’re having an excellent time. I’d love to go crazy in a Micallef boutique. It would be fun if you did a review of the fig fragrance you picked up. If I would get the chance to do my own perfume I’d include theese notes. Orange blossom, musk, hyacinth, vanilla, iris. Theyre my favorite notes. It would probably be extremely boring though :)

  • bryan says:

    I agree about the drawback of traveling in groups. But it sounds like the pros outweigh the cons.
    I’m so jealous, sitting here in Kansas…rain and clouds All. The. Time. Boo
    Please enjoy your perfume making….I’d go crazy with the most outrageous, strong, heady, ingredients…..pick at random…just remember the tuberose for me.

  • Tamara*J says:

    I’m with Musette, just too stuck on stupid at this moment!

    And I also agree someone better qualified or more ‘with it’ will comply to your request of creativity.

    Wait! Micallef can do refills???? So that almost 2oo buck FB would be worth it???? I love Rose Aoud very much and am toying with the idea of getting it’s pink jus this coming winter…hhhmmmm ;)

    Your stories are so cute babe.
    I’m pleased as punch your having fun and enjoying life!
    I’m there with you in spirit and in my dreams…


  • Musette says:

    Good gravy! I wouldn’t know where to begin, so I won’t (on the perfume, I mean). Your trip sounds lovely but I’m with you on the no-group thing. In a perfect world you could skip the group tour thingies but still experience all the stuff and then hang out with the group later (except that’s the whole point of this trip, innit? well, just roll with my fantasy – I think it involves Star Trek transporters :-).

    Anyway, it sounds like a lovely time, limited hanging-out notwithstanding. Your time with ‘fume folks sounds great! That was the one thing I really regretted about the ChiCocoa – I was so beat and busted up that I couldn’t remember 70% of what went on or who I met, alas.

    Continue to enjoy – there will be several really intriguing perfume possibilities presented here – just not by me, dangit!


    • Shelley says:

      LOL @ ChiCocoa…sympathetic LOL, but of course…it’s just like your wedding, right? People tell me the food was *fabulous* at my wedding. I wouldn’t know… :)

      • Musette says:

        OMG yes! LOL! I remember only two things about my wedding (well, three)

        1. my veil got caught on a bush (we got married outside) and my dad kept marching me forward, nearly ripping my hair out
        2. my new nevvy, who was our ring bearer and a bit strange sometimes (he was 4) kept saying “I’msorryMummy,I’msorryMummy,I’msorryMummy and that’s all I could hear. The minister could’ve recited the phone book, for all I know!
        3. my new niece (2yrs) dumped a full can of Pepsi all over the skirt of my wedding dress. Luckily it was tulle. I walked over to the hose (did I mention it was outside?) and hosed it off.

        Other than that I remember little else.