beautiful, provence


A month ago we went on vacation to Provence, actually to the peninsula of Giens which is close to everything including Grasse.

On the way there we took one of the most beautiful rides ever in the car on a gloriously sunny day through the vineyards of Provence. I kept noticing these strange looking trees that seemed to have their bark cut and exposed. LV explained that what I was looking at were indeed cork trees. Stopping the car because I had to get a better look, I couldn’t believe that what I was looking at was a cork tree. Why am I going on about cork and what does it even have to do with perfume or the olfactory world? Well wine is a really important part of life here in Italy and when I think of celebrations, parties and dinners shared with the people I love a bottle is usually part of the mix. I may or may not have a glass but the aroma always forms a part of the entire experience. From the sound of the cork popping out of the bottle to sniffing the aroma of the end of the cork that gets steeped in the aromatics of the wine to the first smell and first sip of a really nice bottle, each moment of a bottle of wine shared is a moment of connection and communication, a moment when both our cultures can come together, so the smell of cork means something here and it was interesting to see where it actually grows to give me one more visual link for my olfactive memory bank.


One of the stops was of course Grasse, once the perfume capital of the world. There I meant to take a tour of all three of the perfume houses but only made it to Fragonard and Molinard.

Fragonard was my favourite because the guide explained a lot, was very engaging and they let you take pictures.


I love seeing our perfume materials in their natural state, it inspires a reverence in me…

Check out the GCMS machine in the background! I was simply bursting with pride that I even know what the hell it was!

The best thing was I could understand the tour guide when she spoke of the technical stuff! Yes, I was beaming, there was no other word for it.

The beginning of September is the best time to go to Provence. It’s peaceful, not as hot and the locals have more time and patience to be kinder and nicer.

This is definitely a trip to do from a perfumer’s perspective because this way you can get it out of your system so you don’t feel like you’re missing anything important. For me I feel like I can say “yeah, okay, I’ve seen Grasse. Now let’s get on with exploring all the other places on the planet that are just as important from an olfactive standpoint.”

Just my two scents.

P.S. a quick update on what’s been going on here for me.  A family health opportunity to learn greater love (typically called a problem) had me occupied for the last two weeks and blogging was the last thing on my mind but now there seems to be peace again so back I am today to sniffing, shooting and writing!

Wishing you a wonderful day (afternoon) :).


2 thoughts on “beautiful, provence

  1. Hi Maxine what a nice post you made, you more than make up for being absent for some time! Love the photos and I always learn something… the cork trees you saw, I also have seen. And since you talk about the wine bottle and all that, of course the smell of the wine cork comes to mind and I suddenly realise it’s an oak smell, full of tannin. Cork trees are Oaks – Quercus suber. Oak leaf mold has a similar, though different smell which I like.
    It has been ages but yes, I visited Grasse too… first when I was 16 or so, with my mother, and already I was fascinated with the raw materials. And here we are now..Yesterday at the shop where I help out as a volunteer, I was advising a customer and I suddenly picked up ‘clove’ out of the air.. turned out clove essential oil had enormous meaning for her (burn-out, overworked en now sleep deprived) in the end we passed by the lavender and geranium range (menopause) that didn’t get to her as deeply. She also took a packet of Palo Santo natural incense for which i can vouch since I contributed to creating the formula ;-)… she left grateful, more confident, and relieved that there was a place she could come and be taken seriously. How cool…
    I thought I’d share this with you so there you are!
    have fun, Eline


    1. Hey Eline!
      Nice to hear from you. Yup, I’m back finally. Thanks so much for filling me in on the fact that cork is from Oak trees! That’s why I love cork, cause I love everything Oak from barrels to the beauty of the acorns, to the Oakwood CO2 hence the love of tannins :). Wow, that’s a wonderful story of you helping someone else find help for her health through essential oils, good for you, Eline, that you followed that whispering voice. As always, thank you so much for sharing! Enjoy the rest of your week.


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