Where to Stay in Nice in 2024: Best Places in 10 Neighborhoods
French Riviera

Day Trip from Nice to Grasse

Despite its distance (45km), Grasse makes a great day trip from Nice and is a refreshing contrast to the coast with a strong Provencal flavor. Amble the narrow streets winding through the old town and admire the ochre, red and yellow colors. As Grasse is less expensive than the coast, many local artists and artisans have set up shop along the 17th and 18th-century streets.

View of Grasse

Except for the Cathedral, most of the sights are centered on Grasse's famous perfume business which provides perfumes for some of the world's most famous fashion houses. Grasse's perfumes emerged as a way to disguise the odor of the tanneries that once made Grasse famous for its gloves. All three of the major perfume houses--Molinard, Galimard and Fragonard--have shops in town. And you can even try your hand at creating a personalized scent.

You'll see the name Fragonard everywhere in town. Jean-Honori Fragonard (1732-1806) was a prolific and exuberant painter born in Grasse. He has no relation to the perfume house of the same name or any of the other local businesses.

Bus or Train?

Convenience

No contest. Taking the 650 bus from Nice is far preferable to the train. The train station in Grasse is at the foot of a steep hill, far from the town center. The Grasse bus station (Gare Routiere) is only steps from town.

Price

At €1.70 the bus is cheaper than the train which costs €10.70.

Speed

The bus to Grasse leaves from Parc Phoenix and takes about an hour and 10 minutes, depending on traffic. The train takes about an hour from Gare Thiers to the Grasse train station. Add on another 20 minutes to catch the bus from the train station to the town center.

Scenic

The part of the train ride that passes from Cannes to Nice is scenic as it passes along the coast. The bus ride becomes more scenic as it leaves the urbanized coast and passes through the woodsy back country. It's a winding road though which could be an issue for those susceptible to car sickness.

Grasse Day Trip by Train from Nice

Grasse train station

After leaving the train station the buses to the town center are just outside. Look for buses 6B, 20, 5, C, A. It takes 13 minutes to climb to the Gare Routiere. Check the bus schedules at Sillages. The bus ticket is €1.70 which you buy from the driver.

Grasse Day Trip by Bus from Nice

Take bus line 650 from Nice to Grasse Gare Routiere which is the last stop. Catch the bus either at Parc Phoenix or at the Airport/Promenade stop. I recommend the Parc Phoenix stop as it's right next to the stop on tram line 2. The Airport/Promenade stop connects with local bus 12 which is not as frequent as the tram line. The Grasse tourist office is right at Gare Routiere. Pick up a town map or get further local information here.

Suggested Sights for a Grasse Day Trip

Streets and Squares

From the Gare Routiere follow the main road to boulevard Jeu du Ballon, the main shopping street.

Boulevard de Jeu du Ballon, Grasse

You'll soon come to the Place aux Aires, the heart of downtown Grasse which dates from the 14th century. The shops that line the arcades were once used by Grasse's tanners for soaking and drying animal skins. Don't miss the wrought iron balustrade on the house of Maximilien Isnard at no 33. On Saturday mornings the Place aux Aires hosts a local market filled with Provencale food, flowers and local products.

Place aux Aires, Grasse

Just wandering the old streets of Grasse turns up unexpected delights.

Public fountain, Grasse

Stepped street in Grasse, France

Statue and Hotel de Ville, Grasse

Fountain and steps, Grasse

Square in Grasse

Cathedral

Cathedral of Grasse

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Puy is well worth a stop. The 13th-century structure contains a wealth of art dating from the 15th to 19th centuries including a rare religious work, lavement des pieds, from Grasse painter Jean-Honori Fragonard. Also notable are several works attributed to Peter-Paul Rubens or his school.

Museums

International Museum of Perfumery

International Perfume Museum, Grasse

Perfumer in traditional clothes; sculpture outside the International Perfume Museum

Notice the sculpture (above) at the entrance to the museum which depicts a traditional perfumer's dress and toolbox.

Entrance to the International Perfume Museum

The Musei Internationale de la Parfumerie is the world's largest collection of perfumery spanning antiquity to the present day. The medicinal, seductive and cultural importance of perfumes are highlighed in beautiful displays of perfume flasks and distilling equipment.

On the last Saturday of the month, there's a two-hour guided tour of the museum and a perfumery workshop. Reserve in advance at activites.musees@paysdegrasse.fr or call 04 97 05 58 14.

Provence Art and History Museum

Museum Art and History of Provence

Kitchen of the Provencal History Museum, Grasse

Fragonard Historic Museum and Factory garden

Garden of the Provence History and Culture Museum

Housed in the 18th-century Clapiers-Cabris mansion, the Musie d'Art et d'Histoire de Provence is an evocative glimpse into the daily life of the eastern Provencal elite. The recreated kitchen, reception rooms and private quarters display the richness of local fine and decorative arts. Don't miss the 18th-century garden planted with citruses, rose bushes, cherry trees and a weeping willow.

Fragonard Historic Museum and Factory

Fragonard factory

Fragonard factory perfume vats

Located in a former tannery, this museum and factory offers free guided tours that take in the whole process of manufacturing perfume from distilling to conditioning, maceration, filtration and bottling. The tour finishes in the Fragonard shop. Tours are available daily; no reservation necessary.

Museum of Costumes and Jewels

Museum of Costumes and Jewelry

Fashionistas will want to check out the Musee Provencal du Costume et du Bijou, a small, free museum that displays 18th and 19th century clothing and jewels. The brightly colored fabrics that now typify Provencal style are derived from India, a trading partner of the perfume industry. The museum is housed in the stately residence of the Marquise of Cabris and retains many of the original features.

Perfume Workshops

Map of Grasse Perfume Workshops

 

All three perfumeries of Grasse--Galimard, Fragonard, Molinard--offer free tours of their facilities which take you through the craft of perfume making. You'll see the distillery and filtration systems as well as the "organ" that displays an array of scents. The free tours do not require a reservation but do finish with a polished sales pitch.

But maybe you're looking for a more hands-on experience and would like to make your own perfume? All factories are open long hours and offer free parking. There's a reduced rate for those who only want to accompany the "perfume person". A reservation is required. Let's compare the offers.

Molinard Factory

The Molinard factory (60 bd Victor Hugo) is the only one that's easy to reach on foot from the town center. It's only a 15-minute walk from the Gare Routiere, or take bus line 6. The price of €76 includes a one-hour workshop and you leave with a 50ml bottle of your own perfume. Plus, there's a 20% discount on other purchases. Or, opt for the 20-minute workshop and a 30ml bottle of perfume for €30. Reserve here.

Fragonard Factory

As noted above, the historic Fragonard factory (20 boulevard Fragonard) is right in the town center and offers free tours. But the perfume workshop is on the outskirts at 17 rte de Cannes.

From Gare Routiere take bus 20 from the nearby Grasse Gambetta stop, get off at Le Neroli and walk 100m (17 minutes)

Or take bus 5 from the Gare Routiere to "Les Quatre" chemins and walk 270m (27 minutes). Buses 5, 6, 600 and 610 also depart from the train station going uphill to factory. (11 minutes)

The 45-minute workshop costs €29 and you get a 12ml bottle of perfume. Reserve here.

Galimard

To reach the Galimard factory (5 Rte de Pegomas) take bus 20 or 6b from Grasse Gambetta stop near the Gare Routiere. Or take buses 5, 6, 600 or 610 from the train station to the bus stop “Les Quatre Chemins”

For €58 an expert will work with you for two hours to develop your perfume and you leave with a 100ml bottle. Workshops are daily at 10am, 2pm and 4pm.

Related Pages

Grasse Travel Guide

Day Trips from Nice

 

Recommended Experiences


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