Visit To Grasse
For Thursday afternoon there was a choice of four Grasse perfumery factories to visit. Everyone was provided with a packed lunch before boarding their designated coach in front of the Palais des Festivals.
Afterwards we visited a little farm on one of the surrounding hillsides. By this time, the heavens opened – we sheltered in an outbuilding, while the farmer, Mr. Biancalana, told us about the roses and other crops they grow here. There were several baskets of pink, scented roses – on one side were the Damask Rose, which were to be used for eau de rose, or rosewater, and on the other side was rosa centifolia, which was to be extracted to produce rose absolute. They also grow jasmine on the farm but that is harvested later in the year.
The next event of the day was cocktails and dinner in Grasse, held at the old Chiris factory – also known affectionately in the trade as “the monastery”, and there were elaborately carved windows, with various pieces of distillation equipment dotted about.
There was a sea of rose blossoms at one end, and next to a small stage in the centre of the hall was a fountain with more blossoms floating on the water. A slide projector was showing slides of Provence, including lavender in bloom, lavender in winter covered in snow, and many other pictures of lavender, and a laser show specially for the WPC was being shown at the other end, with music.
The WPC Chairman, Jean-Pierre Subrenat appeared on stage accompanied by the Mayor of Grasse, for the prize-giving ceremony of the recent “International Lavender Competition”. They announced the winners and runners-up, who came up onto the stage to receive their prizes.