Cannes and Beyond :: Grasse
EDGE Travel Editor Jason Salzenstein loves France- and especially the French Riviera. Having spent quite a bit of time there last year, he’s learned that there’s more to the south of France than simply shopping, sand and sun. After spending a week in Cannes (to read that article, click here, he decided to take a few day-trips to surrounding towns and villages. Last week we brought you his report on Mougins; this week we’re focusing on Grasse. Check it out!
Known as the "Town of Art & History," Grasse is set high on a mountain, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Southern Alps. The heart of the perfume industry in France and around the world, Grasse is also the site of the future International Museum of Perfumery (planned for a June 2008 opening), and offers visitors hundreds of years of history throughout and along its narrow winding streets.
The art and science of modern perfume making was invented in Grasse, as were famous fragrances from Rochas, Dior, and the mythical Chanel No. 5. With so much history- and so much to do- although you could see many wonderful things in the town on a day trip from Cannes, if you can swing it, an overnight in Grasse is highly recommended in order to see everything the town has to offer.
Sleep :: High and Low
There are two hotels I recommend in Grasse, and they couldn’t be more different. Both are good options, based on your mood, taste, and wallet size.
On the ’high’ end, the Bastide Saint Antoine Jacques Chibois (pictured) is a 4-star luxe (France has no 5-star; this is the top of the line!) Relais & Chateau property, which essentially means it’s perfect. Gloriously designed, meticulously maintained, and the ultimate in luxurious fabulosity (yes, that’s a word), I guarantee that if you stay for a night, you’ll want to remain here for a week. I merely had a few glasses of Champagne and was making plans to move-in; sadly, my budget- and commitments at home- prevented it.
Once settled, you’ll want to have a cocktail (or three) on the terrace; it’s surrounded by 18th century buildings, and overlooks a park filled with hundreds of thousand-year-old olive trees (you read that correctly). If weather permits, you can also take dinner on the terrace, although the dining room is just as beautiful. Either way you’ll enjoy Jacques Chibois’ extraordinary skill- the skill that has garnished him 2 Michelin stars. After dinner, meander back to one of the nine beautifully appointed rooms, four suites, or three master suites, which include a large terrace and Jacuzzi tub...
Rooms start around 200 Euros per night in the low season; 245 high.
For those on a budget- or who simply prefer to spend time exploring the town rather than luxuriating at their hotel- the Hotel Mercure is an excellent choice. Far from glamorous, it’s nevertheless perfectly agreeable, and allows for a glimpse into the less "Disney-fied" view of the inland French Riviera. If the weather permits- and it usually does- ask to borrow a set of P�tanque balls and enjoy a game that’s been played in southern France for generations.