Given we were in the area recently, there was no way in the world I was going to miss visiting Grasse.
In a country renowned for perfumes, the town of Grasse is at the heart of the French fragrance industry. Located in the south of France, it’s a ‘must visit’ for any perfume lover. It also makes for an easy day trip from Nice.
And although I’d already had the experience of creating my own scent in Melbourne, I was drawn to the idea of making another in France. Scotty was also keen to understand what it was about the process that kept capturing my imagination. So we researched the scent making options for the two of us in Grasse.
A number of well known French fragrance brands offer the opportunity to make your own perfume – either in workshops or in a one-on-one setting. And it’s safe to say that all the options were appealing. After some deliberation, we made an on-line booking for a 2:00pm group perfume creation workshop with Galimard.
The Galimard Brand
The Galimard brand was created 1747, growing from a leather making business. Back in the day, leather gloves were laced with fragrance to ward off germs and to make things generally smell better. Eventually, the part of the business related to leather fell away and the focus turned entirely to the creation of fragrances.
The house offers a free tour of the their perfume making facilities. The tour is held in a different location, about 10 minutes walk from the workshop venue. It’s very informative, going into the history of Galimard and French fragrance in Grasse. It also provides interesting snippets of information on fragrance ingredients and allows you to see the perfumes being created. I was surprised to learn that the Galimard fragrances are still blended by hand! The tour finished in a lovely boutique, although our guide was reluctant to let us smell anything, as she knew we were off to the workshop.
Make Your Own Perfume With Galimard In Grasse – What I Loved About It
One. You Actually Got To Sit At A Perfume Organ
Perfume creation shares a whole lot of language with making music. Note is the most obvious example – each individual scent is known as a note. And the organ is the second one. A perfume organ is a ‘desk’ that a perfumer sits at. It resembles an organ in that base note fragrances sit at the lowest level, heart notes in the middle and top notes sit at the highest level. The reviews I’d read had let me know that we’d be creating our scent at a perfume organ and that we would be encouraged to smell all of the scents. What I wasn’t prepared for was a room full of organs – and the scope of the organs we would work with. There were around 30 people (men and women) creating fragrances in our workshop. Each organ contained 127 notes, or individual scents. Which made for quite an overwhelming sight.
Once I’d settled in though, it was fun to sit surrounded by scents. We not only got to smell them, but once our advisor had ticked off our choices we got to measure the different scents into a beaker, one drop at a time. And all these little drops of scent ended up being our finished perfume. As with my first attempt at creating perfume, I felt very connected to the process and very responsible for the outcome. It’s definitely a hands on experience.
Two It Was Excellent Value For Money
Of all the perfume making opportunities I researched in Grasse, the Galimard group workshop experience offered long session times and large bottles of fragrance to take home. All at what I considered a reasonable price (given you get the experience and a bottle of perfume). You have the option to upgrade your perfume flaçon (bottle) and they ask you to name your fragrance, so they can print an individual label for your finished product.
Three. The Fact That Galimard Keep The ‘Formula’ You Create On File
This means that you can re-order the scent when you run out – in the same, or different concentrations. And not only that, but you can also order other products like body washes and lotions in your personalised fragrance too.
Four. Galimard Was Set Up To Welcome Everyone
All the ladies running the workshop were bi-lingual, with at least one of the coaches speaking five languages. On the day we visited workshop participants came from a mixture of French, English, Italian, Spanish and German speaking backgrounds.
Five. The Fragrances We Created
One of the things I personally struggle with when you make your own perfume is that you have to wait at least two weeks before you can try it. I’m not known for my patience, so the three weeks that the team at Galimard suggested I wait before learning the success or otherwise of my creation seemed like a very long time.
But my fragrance was worth the wait. I’m so happy with it. It is like some of very favourite fragrances (including the first perfume I created) but has a more summery scent. I’m clearly no expert, but I put that variance down to the very warm temperatures we encountered in the south of France.
Scotty is also very pleased with his fragrance. I think he’s a bit surprised that he made something that he really likes. But create it he did. And it’s really good. I love both of the scents we created in the Galimard fragrance workshop.
What I Would Have Liked To Have Seen
There was only one thing. A discussion about what you like and don’t like in scents and what you do or don’t wear and why.
When the workshop started, we were straight into the business of choosing base notes. Unless you have some understanding about what you like in perfumes, there’s a good chance you could be playing with scents that just don’t work for you. I’m sure the consideration of your existing perfume preference is included in the one-on-one experience. So to overcome this issue and ensure you successfully create a fragrance you enjoy I suggest you have a think about the main notes (individual scents) in your favourite perfumes before you arrive so you know what you love. This will give you a great place to start when you sit down in front of 127 individual notes.
Something To Consider
Grasse absolutely hugs the side of a hill – which means that if you choose to walk around, you will be going straight up and down. And while the heart of the old town lies at the top of the hill the location of the Galimard perfume workshop is well down the hill, so I recommend you visit Grasse and Galimard by car. There is car parking at both the workshop and tour sites.
Have ever had the chance to create a fragrance in Grasse? Did you enjoy the experience? And more importantly, did you like the scent? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir.
Please Note: This is an unsolicited post and no compensation of any kind has been received from Galimard.
7 thoughts on “Make Your Own Perfume In Grasse With Galimard”
What a treat and what an experience that will keep on giving. Gorgeous photos, too!
What a treat and what an experience that will keep on giving. Gorgeous photos, too!
How long do you reckon your supply will last, before you have to come back to make more? Though that could be difficult to calculate, because what an excellent gift/souvenir a custom-made perfume would be.
It really was a memorable and fun experience Catherine. The bottle hold 100ml so I know it will last quite some time. And lucky for my bank balance, you can order your refills online and they ship them worldwide. Although, the excuse of travelling back to the French Riviera for perfume sounds like a reasonable one to me. And you are spot on about the experience making a wonderful gift. I know of people who have gifted perfume making experiences to traveller for birthdays, and even wedding presents to be created while the couple are on their honeymoon!
I have 3 addictions : chocolaté, sunshine and perfumes. Even if I was disappointed by the town itself I was so thrilled to discover the place where so many extraordinary perfumes were born.
The Musée International de la Parfumerie pays a deserved tribute to all the people who have worked in perfumes from the rose pickers to the “Nez”.
Today the perfume industry is basically standardized and designed to appeal to the Asian market which is à shame. And here Janelle you come with some people who try to keep creation alive : Gallimard and Fragonard (unforgettable Habanita) in Grasse, Sonia Godet in Saint Paul de Vence who has bought back to life the family’s Maison and wonderful sleeping beauties like Chypre, Folie Bleue and so many others while creating New marvels like Empire des Sens.
Janelle, this perfume, your baby, is going back home with you. I’m proud you appreciate this slow life we must struggle to preserve. It makes every moment unique.
I didn’t realise you were a perfume fan too Françoise. I adore fragrances and their histories and have said many times that if I hadn’t started DF I could easily have created a blog about perfumes!! I agree with you on the importance of keeping the artisanship of fragrances alive in a world where many scents seem completely generic or formulaic. I wish we’d spent more quality time in Grasse (rather than walking up and down the hill) so I could have spent more time looking at the history that the houses like Galimard, Molinard and Fragonard share. And yes, taking the fragrance home means we get to keep the holiday memories alive. xx
I did this last year when I was in Grasse; although, I created mine at Molinard. I had a lovely time, and I wear my fragrance nearly every day. I intend to order more when I run out, as it brings back memories of sunshine, flowers and a drive by the sea as I headed back to Provence to see the lavender fields in bloom.
Fragrance is such an important trigger for memories Teresa and it sounds like the perfume you created evokes many beautiful memories. Molinard was the first house I started looking at when I began thinking about creating a perfume in Grasse – they have such a wonderful reputation. I’m so glad you enjoyed your perfume making experience too.