Grasse, an ancient town located in the foothills of the Côte d’Azur in Southern France, is, due to a set of unusual circumstances and an exceptional climate, not only the cradle of modern perfumery, but also, and for well over a century, the capital of the perfumery industry. At one time, Grasse was the main producer of many natural key perfumery raw materials and, in addition, controlled the production of such materials in other parts of the globe. Grasse has also long been a training center for perfumers; even today many famous perfumers, employed all over the world, are proud of having their origins in this venerable center.
The decline in the predominance of Grasse over the perfume industry began in earnest in the 1930s —on the initiative of the Grasse firms themselves. The underlying reasons, primarily economic, were based on the fact that the Grasse area was rapidly developing into a tourist area. As a result, land values and labor costs rose very quickly. Since jasmin and other important raw materials require intensive labor (about 2000 man hours are needed to pick the flowers for one kilo of jasmin absolute), there was a sharp rise in production costs and, consequently, in prices. Not surprisingly, the Grasse firms sought to relocate in areas with suitable climates and large labor pools. It was quite logical for them to choose French possessions across the Mediterranean.