Visiting the collection of Grasse’s Perfume Museum was an experience I would never forget.
Already attracted by the museum’s elegant architecture and interior installations, I’m above all impressed by the meticulously prepared speech of our friendly and courteous guide, Ms Sofia Mazelie. Her scent discovery ‘lesson’ is as intellectual as it is sensorial. I remember being kindly invited by her to sniff a generous amount of scents, from pungent musk to fresh bergamot, with sensual jasmine and sweet rose de Mai in between. Also, Ms Mazelie did convey to me plenty of revelatory facts on the long history of perfume, which spans roughly from Ancient Egypt to our era and beyond.
This might sound absurd, but honestly, I‘m content with resuming this guided visit as an Interstellar–Esque journey, in which one travels through space and time, with scents as markers to define stages where humans have achieved their most remarkable euphorias. At one point, I was inside a glass-ceiling garden always kept at boiling temperature to learn about prototype plants. Then, later on, I was crossing a series of rooms very much resembling Renaissance’s cabinets of curiosity where exquisite Roman’s recipients were on display – you guessed it, in Ancient times, people did pour perfumes directly into their bodies.
Another standout stop of the exhibition is at ‘La belle époque’, which, as remembered by Mr Christian Dior, is the essential era of not only perfume, but also fashion, dance, music, or to sum up, l’Art–de–Vivre.
Besides being a memorable travelling experience, this visit to Grasse’s Perfume Museum also testifies my trust in culture as a more or less pacifying medium. A shared passion for culture, or particularly in this particular case, the perfume culture, would allow people to connect much more quickly, regardless of where they are from or what they do for a living.
Content contributor: Tran Minh Hoang
Photo credit: Khoi Tran