France Vacation: Nice & Cannes

In addition to Ramatuelle, Gassin, and St. Tropez, we also took day trips to visit Nice and Cannes while we were in France this summer.

We left Ramatuelle very early in the morning, drove about 2 hours north to Nice, and arrived around 10am. We drove down the Promenade des Anglais and took in the sights of the gorgeous art-deco hotels, beachfront restaurants and shops, and all of the people bustling around city.

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The views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Nice are unreal!

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We walked around the heart of Nice through the Place Masséna square and the Promenade du Paillon.

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Our main activity in Nice was a perfume workshop at Molinard, one of the oldest parfumeries in France, founded in 1849.

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The workshop consisted of an hour and a half long private perfume making experience with one of Molinard’s perfume/scent experts. We bought tickets for the workshop on Viator, if you’re interested (when I was researching this prior to our trip it took me forever to figure out where to buy tickets!).

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The expert we worked with explained that all of the bottles on the table contained each possible scent we could use – base notes along the bottom, heart notes in the middle, and top notes along the top. The scent science of perfume notes is that the top note is the one you smell first but it doesn’t linger long, the heart note is the one that sits on your heart and wafts up to your nose all day long (so you really need to love this one!), and the base note is the scent you leave behind when you walk through a room. The science behind it all has to do with time of application, evaporation, and the particular groupings of all the various scents in the perfume.

We were instructed to sniff each bottle we thought sounded appealing, and to not waste our nose on scents we knew we didn’t like. For a scent we truly loved, we dipped a piece of paper into the scent, wrote the name on the end of the stick, and set it aside. We were given and hour to smell everything, taking breaks occasionally to go outside or smell coffee beans to give our noses a rest.

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When we were done, our perfume expert used each paper stick to create a custom grouping of scents. She would add and subtract scents based on our feedback and was constantly swapping out one to two pieces of the paper to craft the best perfume combination. She carefully did this process for both John and I, waving the scent sticks in front of our noses, until we had a perfume that was perfect. When we each had the scents picked, our perfume expert wrote out the “recipe” for each of us. The recipe included each scent, which kind of note it was, and what volume of that note would go into the bottle.

My recipe included top notes of green tomato, honeysuckle, and green apple, heart notes of floral base and white peach, and base notes of blackberry, sandalwood, and cotton.

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With our “recipes” in hand, a slew of pipettes, and an empty perfume bottle, we got to work carefully measuring out each scent per the recipe with the pipette and adding to the bottle. This process was so cool! We both loved actually getting to make our own perfume!

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When our perfume/cologne was finished, our perfume expert closed up the bottles, packaged safely, and instructed us to give the scents a week to properly blend together before using.

She clearly loved her job and was such a joy to work with. While crafting our scents she was professional and clearly experienced, but also lent a whimsy and romance to the process. She said, in her French accent, “You picked all of these scents for a reason, because of all the things that make you, you. I don’t know you because we just met, but through this scent I know everything about you.” And, as she was packing up our fragrances, she said “Take this perfume, unique to only you, and wear it for the rest of your days.”

This was such a special and fun experience and I’m so happy we did it. Another awesome thing is that our fragrances have a unique code so we can log on to the Molinard website and reorder the exact scent any time we like if we ever run out.

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During the rest of time at Molinard, our perfume expert gave us a tour of their museum which consisted of vintage perfume bottles and labels. There was a video that showed the history of Molinard and where they derive their plant/extracts for scents from (many of the flowers are grown locally in the Provence region of France).

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We spent our remaining time in Nice walking around, shopping, snapping photos, and getting lunch.

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One final highlight of Nice was going to the Louis Vuitton store there – which is the oldest Louis Vuitton shop in the world (the flagship in Paris has moved several times but this one has remained in the same place since the late 1800’s, according to the clerk who helped me).

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The next day we spent a few hours in Cannes for lunch. Cannes is a beautiful city with a very old charm and stunning architecture.

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After walking around downtown Cannes and taking in the views of Baie de Cannes, we had lunch at La Californie.

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We had a lovely time on our mini road trip up the coast while in France. The French Riviera is simply beautiful and full of wonderful things to see and do. I hope to come back here someday!

Author: Domestocrat

I'm a lady who enjoys photography, football, cooking, long drives with the windows down, This American Life, kettlecorn, hot yoga, pop punk, my nephews, my cat Reggie, and my home: Boston.

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