Have you seen the movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer?
The young Jean-Baptiste Grenouille starts to discover the beauty of scents and perfumes in Paris and later comes to learn the full craft of enfleurage in Grasse, the world’s perfume capital.
The story is based on a 1985 novel by a German writer Patrick Süskind. In his youth, he studied in Aix-en-Provence and the nearby city of Grasse became his inspiration for the novel he published 40 years later.
Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.
– Patrick Süskind
Only a very few of the Grasse movie scenes were actually really shot there, but once you walk the narrow lanes of the old town, you’ll feel like as if it was all shot in Grasse.
The city posing as Grasse was Spain’s Girona and the director Tom Tykwer made sure Girona paid its original brethren justice by visiting Grasse before the shooting started.
It’s not clear which scenes were made in Grasse, but if you approach any of the little perfume store owners, they’ll assure you this or that scene was shot right by their porch.
One thing is clear: the square, on which the mass orgy towards the end of the movie happens, is not to be found in Grasse.
Once you’re there, don’t forget to pay a visit to one of the most important perfumeries (Fragonard, Molinard, Galimard) and take their tours. You can learn a great deal about perfume making in an entertaining way.
Getting lost in the old town of Grasse will make you feel like you’re a character of the movie, luckily without the crazy murderer around!
If you’ve seen the movie, did it make you long to explore Grasse and Cote d’Azur? If so, I’d love to hear about it!