Provence Bound: A Weekend Getaway in the South of France!
By Theadora Brack
It’s high time to take a holiday, some time to celebrate! So pack your bags, books, baubles, and lip balm because this week we’re trekking to the south of France. See, there’s no time like the summertime for some brocante shopping, fossil hunting, and Pastis sipping!
But first gather around, all history bugs. I’ve got another royal tale up my sleeve!
Pop quiz! Where was Wallis Warfield Simpson on the day of Edward’s abdication back in 1936?
Well, here’s the scoop: While Edward bid farewell on the radio airwaves, “Wally” and her stylish BFF motored to Grasse, inland from Nice, and toured the Molinard and the Bruno Court perfume factories, according to the newspapers of the day. “Mrs. Simpson Calm; Takes An Auto Ride,” was the zippy headline.
I’ve had those days! Fully embracing flower power, lavender both soothes and re-energizes my spirits every time, transforming not only perception, but also attitude. I am a believer. In Provence, I once trailed a lavender truck flush with clippings as it slowly made its way to a distillerie les coulets (traditional lavender distillery), beaucoup miles out of my way because of its scent and the tranquil buzz it gave me.
La Maison Molinard
Ding-dong! Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the Molinard factory in Grasse is still worth the journey! Located at 60 Boulevard Victor Hugo, the headquarters also flaunts a posh but cozy show room, decked out with the Molinard family collection of antique Provençal furniture.
Heck, even Queen Victoria paid a visit to stock up onher beloved Eau de Cologne! Talk about making lemonade from lemons! By the way, the queen’s Grand Hôtel in Grasse is now an apartment building. Located at 26 avenue Victoria, it’s now called La Résidence du Grand Palais. Worth a drive-by, don’t forget to curtsy!
Here at Molinard, not only will you get an eyeful of their eclectic collection of vintage bottles, powder boxes, advertisements, and labels, but you’ll also learn how perfume is made in Grasse. Plus, there’s a gift shop! Also, for a fee, they’ll even help you create your very own signature scent. Talk about being a queen for a day!
My pick? It’s got to be Habanita. The powdery scent was created in 1921 as a product for flappers to scent cigarettes. Inspired by the sweet tobacco smoked by WWI Allied Troops, this leathery little number with hints of lavender was re-launched as the real McCoy a few years later, coolly dressed to the nines with water nymphs by Réne Lalique. So wiggle on in your glad rags!
Everything IS coming up roses
While in touring Grasse, I also recommend visiting the Parfumerie Galimardat 73 route de Cannes, the Parfumerie Fragonard at 20 Boulevard Fragonard, and the Musée International de la Parfumerie Grasse at 2 Rue Mirabeau. All three are worth a spin!