Production and Picasso

Today is Sunday and in Grasse, it is raining.  Spring has sprung it seems and the recent erratic weather- windy, rainy,

winter trees

at the distillery

www.payan-bertrand.fr ) They are located very close to our school (walking distance actually) and they are currently in full swing mimosa oil/concrete/absolute extraction. This is a huge production facility and we saw massive steam distillers in action extracting other botanicals such as ambrette seed and patchouli, as well as concrete extraction stages of osmanthus and black tea.  We were shown all stages of the processes, the distillers and condensers, including the lab with the gas chromatography, refractive idex and other technical equipment that is used to thoroughly test all the finished products produced and imported by the company.  There was a warehouse full of the raw materials; bales of orris root, dried patchouli, and oakmoss as well as crates full of benzoin resin from Indonesia.  Also a huge stack of bales of hay that will be distilled and refined to produce the precious flouve or hay absolute.  I didn’t realize that it was good old fashioned hay that is used! 


the house of the perfumers

 I loved the whole experience; the air smelled amazing, botanical and fragrant, and

house of perfumers

Adventure two was yesterday when several of us went to the Musee Magnelli -Museum of Ceramics in a  town called Vallauris near Cannes.  This is the centre of the pottery world and full of little shops run by the artisans.  Picasso came here to study and learn pottery and worked in the building that now houses the gallery. We were there to see the exhibition by the incredible American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.  After being wowed by that display, we went upstairs in the gorgeous old building to see two more floors of work by Picasso, Magnelli and others.  This was my first time seeing actual Picasso pieces and in particular his pottery, original clay tablet etchings and prints. It was really moving and I felt so incredibly inspired to be exposed to such work. In awe really. 

the eyes of Picasso
a place of vision

We then headed back to Cannes to go to an amazing perfume boutique called Taizo (the full Frederique Malle collection as well as many obscure and fine fragrances from Italy and France).  I bought an Italian perfume called Wild Lavender by the perfumer Lorenzo Villoresi from Firenze.  Then, after a bit more browsing through the stores, I found a beautiful traditional cotton bedspread for my soon-to-be new home, and we headed back to Grasse.  Starving, we had a delicious dinner at a new restaurant that just opened a week ago in the old part of the city.  It was divine and I will elaborate later this week when I do a specific culinary postings.  So far I haven’t said much about the food in this country of gourmet, and I’m sure you’re wondering……

 Studying awaits- tomorrow is a whole new week with a whole new set of materials to learn.  My memory and olfactive capabilities are becoming quite tuned, but I mustn’t drop the thread; this is really delicate work!

A bientot!

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