There are few places I’ve visited that have oozed the natural beauty of Grasse and the French Riviera. The natural beauty and fields of delicate buds blossoming against the hazy late-summer sunshine, and the subtle grandeur of the chateau on the horizon and the blue water only but a short drive away. Of course this felt nothing short of appropriate for 24 hours with Chanel, visiting the home of the new Gabrielle Chanel fragrance…
Do you ever have those moments when you are totally blown away, surprised and just dumbfounded that something could happen to you? Pure unadulterated excitement mixed with an overall feeling of ‘Really? Me?’ That’s how I felt when an invitation arrived inviting me to Grasse with Chanel, to celebrate and discover more about their newest fragrance, Gabrielle. Not bad for a Monday morning!
Arriving in Nice, we drove across to Hotel Belle Rives for the evening- a waterside favourite of a certain F. Scott Fitzgerald and a stones throw away from Cannes. The hotel was as beautiful as I imagine it might have been all the years ago when Fitzgerald would frequent. Art deco detailing and tiny intricacies, stuck in time without gathering an inch of dust- and the perfect place to spend an evening before an exciting day in Grasse.
Up bright and early the following morning, we packed our cases and headed onto the road for the sleepy drive to our special final destination. Pulling up to the chateau, it wasn’t long before we pulled on our wellingtons (Chanel no less (!), tied up our aprons and got to work exploring the fields of tuberose and jasmine, learning about the seasonal harvest and one of the key notes for the new scent. With the region having it’s own microclimate, not only does Grasse make for the perfect spot to harvest these dainty white flowers- but helping to preserve and develop a notion deep rooted in it’s heritage is something we learnt Chanel has been championing since 1987 too.
On top of that, seeing how the flowers and ingredients were produced and the journey they go on to the perfume you might recognise as sitting in your bathroom cabinet all of a sudden felt more special and sentimental. Speaking to creator and nose Olivier Polge and knowing there were real people behind this intricate and considered process really honed in on what an art it truly is. I rarely think about the brains behind the scents that I love- but having such a personal introduction to the Gabrielle fragrance with it’s fresh floral notes, hints of sparkly citrus and ylang ylang- everything felt like a complete story and a truly unforgettable afternoon.