Create your own heavenly scent
e are, as humans, prone to the tyranny of the eye. We gaze upon our screens for hours in the day. We consider ourselves in the mirror — and offer ourselves as mirrors to the world. We read magazines and books. We study art on walls. Our eyes tell us where to look.
What if we rebelled against this tyrant, to devote more time to other senses? Three seductive candidates now vie for our attention — we are beguiled by sound, with our favourite recordings, enchanted by wines, cocktails and fine dining, enraptured by high thread count cotton, and sheer silk.
And yet, there is one we know least that we might love best. Stimulus invisible but irresistible. Just a few parts per million can transport us to our childhood, conjure up a distant loved one, or serve up a banquet where there is no food.
We propose a vacation from four senses to spend time with The One: smell.
Drive just 15km from Cannes to Grasse — the world capital of perfume. There are no less than 30 factories here gathering tonnes upon tonnes of flower petals and other precious materials to fuel our appetite for all things olfactory. The industry grew from the 17th and 18th century vogue for perfumed gloves; today the gloves are gone but the scent remains.
You can tour the museum and many of the factories. We recommend a trip to Parfumerie Galimard, founded back in 1747 to supply heavenly mixtures to the court of Louis XV of France. Delphine Roux, a member of the Galimard family, explains that the real royalty of perfume today are known as ‘noses’:
“Musk, amber, jasmine, rose, or wood: in the land of scents, the perfumer, also known as “the nose”, is king. They know thousands of scents and are able to analyze the fragrance of a product and attest to its quality. After years of practice, once they have identified and memorized the basic raw materials that go into perfume composition, they are eligible to become a designer, combining scents the way a composer combines notes of music.”
As an amateur, you can take a one, two or three-day program with an experienced perfumer like Caroline de Boutiny. Working with her, you’ll learn the genealogy of perfumes, how our olfactory system processes smell, formulate your own fragrance and arrange for it to be made and bottled!