Perfumed Letters

Reading the scent trail of fragrance and words

Grasse’s Gardens of Addiction



That’s not smoke in the sky. Jets of fragrance cool the streets of Grasse on a hot July afternoon.


As a perfume mecca, Grasse is both over- and underrated. The town doesn’t get a lot of love from guidebooks. There is something disproportionate about the sea of tour buses and the little Fragonard “train” in this otherwise modest village with a spectacular view and historic charm. Some of Grasse’s  narrow stone streets lead toward Notre Dame du Puy Cathedral, which dates to the 11th century and houses three paintings by Rubens. But almost everyone comes to Grasse for the perfume.

At first my roaming through the Musée International de la Parfumerie led to olfactive dead ends. The “Sensorial Immersion” was one of many promising, unavailable interactive experiences:
But I soon found something to huff around every corner.
Most memorable:  “Jardin d’addiction” ( “Garden of Addiction”) created by Christophe Berdaguer and Marie Péjus (with perfumers Christophe Laudamiel and Christoph Hornetz). The two-part instillation features a graceful tangle of glass tubes, vining botanical or anatomical stems and bulbs reminiscent of  roots and branches; or a fragile network of neurons in the brain.  The sculpture is attached to a push-button smell-releasing organ. Sniffer-spectators are encouraged to pay attention to the trompe-brain effect created by the suggestion of addictive substances in the smells, the  subtle mood change triggered by just the fragrance of  cocaine, cannibus, whiskey, tobacco, coffee, opium, air.
The museum’s open-air garden offers a different sort of  heady enchantment. At regular intervals, the bushes and vines spritz  cooling mists of fragrance  into the dry, hot summer air.  Scented vapor puffs, and free wifi, too. It’s a heavy user’s delight.

6 thoughts on “Grasse’s Gardens of Addiction

  1. A perfumed letter, at last! I love armchair travel.

    • Dear Jordan,
      I’ve been woefully out of touch. Stay tuned for more from Grasse and related travels. Stay tuned–but don’t hold your breath. So many drafts to finish and post, so little time…
      Fragrantly yours,


  2. How intriguing! I love that photo of the glass tube/art. WOW! One of these days I hope to travel there myself, but in the meantime, thank you for this, and will look forward to more Grasse travel posts!

  3. Dear bloodyfirda,
    I wish I’d taken a few more pictures of the glass tubes. There are some betters stagings of the piece on the linked site .
    Have a great weekend!

  4. Dear Letter Writer
    Indeed… “the tubes… the tubes…”. They fascinate.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  5. Dear Perfumed Dandy,
    It was the “perfumed dandy” of the exhibit: stylish, elegant, memorable, provocative.
    Fragrantly yours,

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