Grasse, World Capital of Perfumes, has just obtained the classification of know-how related to the perfume in the Pays de Grasse at Unesco World Heritage, a victory that rewards the unique talents of a whole profession.
Grasse, World Capital of Perfumes, had presented its candidacy for the Unesco Intangible Heritage of Humanity, for its unique know-how in perfume making. Today, the victory is at the rendezvous. Since November 28, 2018, the Intergovernmental Committee, gathered in the capital of Mauritius in Port Louis, has announced the official registration of know-how related to perfume in Pays de Grasse at the Unesco World Heritage. A boon for the Côte d’Azur region which will see its tourist attendance considerably increased thanks to this perfumed consecration.
Perfumes for Dior and Chanel
After 10 years of procedures of all kinds and a wish supported by all the energy of the former Mayor of Grasse, Jean-Pierre Leleux, the city of a thousand fragrances has finally obtained the classification of its know-how related to the perfume in Pays de Grasse in this great international institution. This recognition will allow the city of Grasse to better highlight its fields of tuberose, orange blossom, violet and jasmine. But it will also allow young farmers to develop on the royal way of growing perfume plants. The city is also an economic heavyweight since the companies of the region run 10% of the global turnover in scents and aromas. This global recognition should also encourage the major French perfume houses to sign long-term contracts to guarantee that horticulturists can live off their crops.
17th element classified in France
The classification of perfume know-how in the Pays de Grasse, considered as the cradle of perfume since the XVI century, to the Unesco Heritage, is rewarding a set of artisanal know-how, from culture to distillation, via the development of this fragrant heritage. This victory was also widely welcomed by Jérome Viaud, Mayor of Grasse, and celebrated on social networks. Laurent Stefanini, the French Ambassador to Unesco, said while sabring the Champagne: “This is a thrilling victory for a wish that has been worn for several years by the city of Grasse and France. Indeed, it is the 17th ranked element in France, which makes us the European country to have the most of them”.
Perfumed gloves for Catherine de Médicis
In the Middle Ages, Grasse is specialized in leather tanning. But the leather smells bad and the nobility of the time, wearing gloves made in this material, doesn’t like them. Molinard, tanner in Grasse, has the idea of creating scented gloves. He then offers a pair to Queen Catherine de Medici who greatly appreciates this present. From then on, the perfume spreads to the French court and the high society and brings the city of Grasse its notoriety.
Grasse, a city museum for perfumery
Today more than ever, with this award, Grasse definitely asserts its aura and its reputation on the international scene and confirms its nickname of World Capital of Perfumery. A well justified reputation, due to the huge industry that has been established over the decades. There are companies like Robertet-Charabot (Chanel No. 5) or Jean Mane & Fils (food flavors) that are producing pure essences but also create many juices for fashion designers like Dior, Chanel or Vuitton and mythical perfumers like Galimard, Fragonard or Molinard, whose factories based in Grasse are regularly visited by tourists from all over the world.
A Swiss perfumer in Grasse
Another good news for the Grasse region: last June, the Swiss perfumer Givaudan, the world leader in flavors and perfumes, has bought the Grasse company Expressions Parfumées for € 18 million. By acquiring this business, Givaudan is expresses its intention to expand and modernize its research and development labs and production facilities by installing new robotics and digitizing perfume manufacturing operations.
Grasse celebrates its inscription at Unesco
Following the decision by Unesco to include perfume know-how in the Pays de Grasse in the register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Ambassador of France to the United Nations, Laurent Stéphanini, was on December 15, 2018 in the Capital of Perfumes to hand over to the local authorities the famous sesame which comes to reward, after ten years of efforts, the unique know-how of a whole region dedicated to perfume. At the ceremony held at the Palais des Congrès in Grasse, the French Ambassador recalled that “this certificate is not unlimited in time. We must live up to this recognition and maintain this know-how!”
An extraordinary human adventure
For the Mayor of Grasse Jérôme Viaud, “the recognition of perfume-related know-how, after ten years of process, meetings, visits, and debates to obtain this inscription at Unesco, is a historic event for the region. For France and the world of perfume. It is a tribute to a whole territory, to a legacy bequeathed by dozens of generations and to our nourishing land.This prestigious award hails the work of a whole team. It is the fruit of common efforts, animated by the same passion: the love of perfume, the love of a territory, the love of an exceptional secular heritage. This inscription summarizes an extraordinary human adventure”.
Extended thanks to the present personalities
Jérôme Viaud then thanked the Ministry of Culture and the Ambassador of France to Unesco, His Excellency Laurent Stéphanini, for sharing this celebration with the people of Grasse. He also thanked the Sous-Préfet Stéphane Daguin for having expressed on his arrival in the Pays de Grasse a sense of belonging and a hope of seeing this issue succeed. He also praised the exceptional commitment of Senator Jean-Pierre Leleu, President of the Living Heritage Association, who has made such a strong bid during these ten long years of procedure, to weaveand nurture relations with many countries in the world. He also expressed his gratitude to Nadia Bénar, Director of the PCI Mission, who, along with Senator Jean-Pierre Leleu, and thanks to her tenacity, was able to mobilize the producers, the experts of the transformation, the perfumers from here and elsewhere during all these years.
A very coveted international label
Every year, since 2003, an expert committee has been meeting to issue the coveted international label, which will serve to protect the practices, representations, expression and know-how passed down from generation to generation within a community. In France, the Gastronomic Meal (2010), the Fest-Noz (2012) or more recently the Carnaval de Granville have already been included in this list. In the Alpes-Maritimes, other files such as that of the Mercantour Mountains, are also defended, but their review is long because extensively tested by many experts before obtaining recognition from Unesco.
L’Unesco se Parfume aux Essences de Grasse en images.
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