Off the Riviera Beaten Path...There's Grasse

The only good thing I've heard about Grasse is what the Grasse Tourism Office representative told me and that's really her just doing her job. Other than that ask almost any Frenchie here on the Riviera and they'll make a face when you mention Grasse (if they are nice, they might mention that there is ok perfume there).

Grasse is not known for the star studded qualities of Cannes nor the luxe and glamour of Monaco. Grasse is down home, Grasse is perfumerie-ville, Grasse is colder and grayer. So they say. The snobby French will talk about Grasse as where the non-French live and will even call it "dangereux". Grasse - dangerous? I was skeptical.

Copain and I arrived on scoot (scooter, for those of you not privy to the French tendancy to shorten words...I'll throw them in every once in awhile for your learning experience :-) ) Where in Cannes I was dying of heat in my coat, upon arrival in Grasse I was happy to have it.  So colder, yes. The main street in Grasse was decorated with holiday lights, palm trees (obviously planted to spruce up the main drag), and brightly colored buildings that you could call charming.  What was bothersome, however, was that this main drag seemed "done up," like an old woman trying too hard with caked on makeup, a line under her chin where the beige foundation stops and the white translucent skin begins.  It's presentable but fake, and you know that if you skimmed off the first layer of cover-up, the jig would be up.

We decided to venture into the old village and my first thought was, "how about I never walk alone here at night." The odd thing about Grasse is that street is cute boutiques and the next is dilapitated housing with laundry hanging out the window.  One minute you are looking at artinsanal soaps and fancy cakes in a boulangerie and the next minute you're facing a rubbish bin overflowing with crap and a mangy dog leaving a present next to it.  Whaaa????  Grasse is a dichotomy that I have yet to understand.

After some perusing and some daring each other to venture into alleys and stairwells that were dark, scary  and smelly for lack of better adjectives, we decided to take a tour of the Fragonard museum (open on Sundays! Go Grasse!).  Our thought was you can't go wrong in a perfume museum with a gift shop at the end of the tour!  We were right...very cute museum, very awkward tour from a German lady who made Copain laugh everytime she prounouced "cedre" like "zedre" and ample gift shop time for us to come out smelling like the Fragonard naturals collection - freesia and fleur d'oranger.

When our eyes began having allergic reactions to perfume overload, we ventured back out into the wild of Grasse, determined to find a cozy café for a hot chocolate or nutella crèpe.  And after some searching, Grasse redeemed itself - we found Daneli's AND a real Grassois square that didn't seem overdone (no palm trees, no fancy colors) - this was the Grasse I was hoping for. 

(Grassois square)
It wasn't dangereux - it was relaxing, authentic - and we enjoyed it all over a chocolat viennois before heading back down to our little seaside village called Cannes.


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