Aroma is of the essence in France Smelling good: Four perfumeries and a perfume museum are part of the appeal of Grasse, near Cannes on the Riviera.



I am interested in the history of perfume and the art of the perfumer.

A good place to explore the world of French perfume and its history is the town of Grasse, which has been a perfume-making center for centuries. The city is in the hills about 10 miles north of Cannes on the Riviera.

The Tourism Office in Grasse offers a variety of guided tours that focus on the perfume industry.

One tour, at $34 a person, includes a walk around the old city, a cocktail at the Villa Fragonard or the Congress Palace, lunch and a visit at one of three museums. The museum you want to see is the International Museum of Perfume. In it are displays on the history of perfume extraction and distillation. A large collection of perfume bottles and flasks from the ancient to the contemporary is exhibited, as is a vanity case belonging to Marie-Antoinette.

On the roof is a small greenhouse of perfume-related plants. (The other museum choices are the Villa Fragonard, with art by Jean-Honore Fragonard and his family and the Marine Museum, with models of ancient ships). For an additional $4, the tour will also include one of the historic gardens in the area. Information: Office du Tourisme, Cours Honore Cresp, B.P. 98, 06130 Grasse; telephone (33), fax (33)

While in Grasse, you can visit the facilities of four perfumeries and see how essences -- later mixed to make perfumes -- are extracted from flowers. Free tours, in English, can be arranged. They are all open every day during the summer from 9 a.m. to 6: 30 p.m., and during the winter from 9 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The perfumeries are Galimard, 73 Rue de Cannes, (33); Molinard, 60 Boulevard Victor Hugo, (33) (closed Sunday during winter); Salon des Parfums, Z.I. des Bois de Grasse, (33), and Fragonard, which has two places open to the public, one in the city center, on Boulevard Fragonard, (33), and one in the outskirts, called Grasse la Fabrique des Fleurs, Les Quatres Chemins, on the Route de Cannes, (33)

In Paris, you might want to visit the Musee de la Parfumerie, in a 19th-century hotel, next to Parfumerie Fragonard. It is at 9 Rue Scribe, (1), across from the Paris Opera. The museum's displays focus on perfume, 18th-century crystal perfume bottles and seduction through the ages. Admission is free.

We will be in London during the first week of Wimbledon. Are single-day tickets available on site?

The Wimbledon championships are June 24 to July 7 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on Church Road in Wimbledon (no play June 30). Wimbledon holds about 11,000 of the 28,000 tickets for each day out of advance sales and makes them available each morning at the gate on a first-come, first-served basis. Only one is sold to a customer. Only 600 of these tickets are for Center Court, however. (No center court tickets are sold during the final four days.)

The prices go up as the tournament progresses. Center Court seats are $32.50 on the first day of play and $67.20 on Wednesday of the second week, the last day they are available. Seats on other courts are less.

The gates open at 10: 30 a.m., but the line forms much earlier. Those familiar with the tournament advise arriving by 6 a.m. to be assured of getting a seat.

More information: The All England Tennis & Croquet Club Wimbledon, Post Office Box 98, Church Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 5AE; (44 181) 944 1066.

jTC ` Pub Date: 03/23/96

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