Following my nose is something I do on a regular basis. I have a good sense of direction and today’s ‘following my nose’ has a whole new meaning! Today, day 5 and Saturday, we headed out again early, this time headed for Grasse. Grasse is the perfume capital of the world and today’s adventure was wrapped all around creating our own perfume or as we say in French, parfum.
I inserted these two photos below to share with you about the last time I was on this road. In fact, it was 11 years ago to the week that I was on this very road, seeing the road sign above and following my nose to Le Mas Candille, a 5 star resort that a friend and I stayed at in Mougins. While there, we ate in the 3 star Michelin restaurant after a relaxing spa treatment in their Japanese inspired Shiseido Spa. It was THIS first trip to Provence that left me wanting more.
The photo on the top is the entrance that we drove through to get to the hotel. The photo on the bottom is the view of the infinity pool facing the Côte d’Azure where we had breakfast. So this was my first experience in this part of France, and I never got to make my own perfume on that trip. But here, today, I got to do it!
We arrived at Parfumerie Galimard in Grasse on another beautiful sunny morning. The history of Galimard dates back to 1747 when Jean de Galimard created this company. He supplied the king of France, Louis, with olive oil, pomades and perfumes. The sources for these parfums are jasmine, rose, lavender, orange flower and tuberose which are natural to Grasse.
It was with these natural ingredients and more that we would be making our parfums.
And so we found ourselves in the Studio of Fragrances where we were guided by ‘Noses’, the ladies who were trained experts at guiding us through our olfactory senses to create our very own formula. What you see pictured below are the 6 base notes that I had to choose 3 from. Vanilla was the 7th but I don’t like vanilla in perfume so I didn’t even bother with it. We were told not to spend too much time smelling these oils because the brain knows instinctively what it likes and dislikes.
I found this to be very true……so I chose my 3 base notes and after making the choice, the ‘Nose” came over to see what they were and then told me the amount to put in the glass beaker you see with the plastic cup over it.
The base note comprises 50 ml of the 100 ml formula. It’s the base note that lasts the longest too. In the photo below you can see me putting in 20 ml of the first oil. Once I had all 3 in the beaker, I had to pour it into the plastic cup and pour back in the beaker for a good mix. I also took a test strip and dipped it into the base so I could get a good direction of what it would smell like. I loved it!!
We wrote everything down on the paper, what oil it was and what amount was being used. After choosing the base notes, we then set out to choose the next set of oils for the heart note. We had to choose 5 of these and I found this harder. But, the nose knows! There were definitely ones that made me turn up my nose, and there were ones that were an instant success! And then there were the ones that I had to go back to. I had an organized pile of oils representing the ‘definites’ and the ‘maybes’ and from there I did the elimination. Each of these was 5 ml in amount. We then repeated the same for the ‘top’ note which is what you smell first when you put your parfum on.
Mixed well, I took samples of the heart note and the top note to smell the process. I wasn’t too sure how I would love it!!! I was assured though that it needed to rest for 2 weeks so the oils could mix well and settle before opening the bottle. I saved the test strips for further smelling later and am so glad I did!
We were to choose a name for our parfum and I knew right away what I wanted to name mine: Papillon
Why Papillon? Because Papillon is French for butterfly. For me it represents the butterfly coming out of her chrysalis. Fresh, beautiful new wings ready to spread and to fly away, soaring as far as the eyes could see.
I present to you in the photo below: Papillon
I even got a diploma for my creation!
There is a number assigned to our formula so that when we need more, we simply can order according to that number because they have the formula on hand.
And you all know I’m a dreamer, right? I have this dream that one day I will get a call from Galimard telling me that they love my formula and want to know if I will license it to them! Pretty neat huh? In the meantime though, I will wear it proudly as my signature scent.
Next stop: lunch at the Logis du Guetteur in Les Arcs
This is a medieval chateau from the 11th century with stunning views atop the mountain.
The terrace where we had lunch.
The menu was amazing. I ended up choosing the Menu Chatelain for 39.50€ which was the entry level prix fixe because I liked what was on it better than the more expensive ones. Below is my appetizer, petits farcis de Provençaux which was delicious and light and the balsamic drizzle went well with the leaves.
The view was stunning from the terrace which overlooked the pool.
Next stop: the winery of Chateau Sainte Roseline
In the 12th century cloister.
Weddings and parties are held here in the cloister. Such beauty.
Getting a tour of the wine cellar.
Wine barrels lined up.
Even bigger ones!
I love how the color of the wine has turned the wood burgundy.
After the tour of the cellars, we were brought inside to test our noses and palates, but this time it was about wine. We had two teams and had to see which one could get the answers right as to which was the oldest wine, what were the notes of the wine…etc.
I thought that since we were just at Galimard learning how to use our nose at parfum making, surely this would be easy! Ha! Boy was I wrong! We pretty much sucked at it but I’m going to blame it on olfactory overload. Yeah, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it! But all in all, it was really fun learning more about wine.
Leaving the beautiful vineyard.
It was another day well spent, learning the art of perfume making, eating in a fabulous historical site, and then getting to see French wine making up close. Truly extraordinary, once again!