Follow Your Nose to France
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Q. Could you suggest a travel itinerary for someone who is interested in all aspects of perfume, from production to sales? I think this would be a European trip, but I could be wrong.
Claudia Saunders, Stafford
A. You're on the right scent. The undisputed perfume capital of the world is Grasse, a flower-drenched, 18th-century town on the French Riviera about 12 miles northwest of Cannes. With more than two dozen perfumeries, the town is the center of the French perfume industry and produces more than three-quarters of the world's fragrances. It's an appealing place, with a picturesque public square, flower markets and knockout views of the Cote d'Azur. But most people visit for the perfume factories, many of which offer tours, workshops and gift shops. You can follow the process from extraction and distillation to mixing and classifying scents, and even create your own perfume.
To get there from Paris, take the train (about 6.5 hours, from $135 round trip; schedules at http:/
As long as you're in Paris, visit a few exclusive perfume boutiques with a self-described "passionate perfumista." Neela Vermeire's Perfume Paths walking tours visit boutiques such as Guerlain and Hermes; she'll help you pick out a fragrance based on your preferences and personality. "You can't choose a perfume unless you're in the right environment. It's like choosing lingerie," she says. Walks last about four hours and cover five or six houses; cost is about $218 (shorter tours are available for $145). She also offers custom tours of Grasse from Paris: Typical trips run three days and include visits to the perfumeries, meals in local restaurants and gallery visits. Details: http:/
I am a single female senior citizen interested in traveling overseas. Are there organizations I might contact in order to travel with someone in my position?
Joan Catapano, Manassas
It's smart for solo travelers to team up. Among the groups that can put you in touch with like-minded travelers:
· Connecting Solo Travel Network, 604-886-9099, http:/
· O Solo Mio Tours, 800-959-8568, http:/
· Travel Chums (212-787-2621, http:/
· Europe Through the Back Door (425-771-8303, http:/
The couple looking for an off-the-beaten-path trip in Central America shouldn't be so quick to cross Costa Rica off their list, says Brian Quinn of West Springfield (Travel Q&A, Aug. 31). He recommends the remote Osa Peninsula on the country's Pacific Ocean side. "To get there, we flew from the capital, San Jose, to Golfito, took a boat across the Golfo Dulce, and then a 14-mile Land Rover ride. We stayed at the wonderful Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge (011-506-735-5206, http:/
Send queries by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.