A ROMANTIC DAY FOR TWO IN THE PAYS DE GRASSE
Grasse - Cabris - Caille
1 day, 1 night
We needed to take a break from our hectic daily routine, a getaway for just the two of us, a romantic day and night to tune back into our senses, our serenity, and each other. We started our romantic day with an olfactory walk, hand in hand, enjoying a fragrant stroll guided by an expert from the International Perfume Museum Gardens, known as “Les Jardins du MIP.” Next, we had lunch in a small, charming restaurant, then roamed the narrow lanes of the medieval village of Cabris to see its ancient foundations, to later head to a spa for a romantic moment of shared well-being. Massages, baths, hammam – we were pampered all afternoon, then went to a timeless and utterly relaxing place to spend the night together.
1 : OLFACTORY WALK IN GRASSE
2 : ROAM THE NARROW LANES OF CABRIS
3 : BE PAMPERED
4 : A PEACEFUL NIGHT’S SLEEP IN A UNIQUE, COLORFUL, REFRESHING WORLD
TOUR OF THE INTERNATIONAL PERFUME MUSEUM GARDENS WITH A FRAGRANCE DESIGNER
« Mouans-Sartoux »
In the footsteps of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille
As soon as the International Perfume Museum Gardens opened, we had an appointment with a fragrance designer who took us on a guided tour of this truly extraordinary natural garden. For two hours, we strolled along paths lined with bitter orange and mimosa trees, jasmine vines, rose, tuberose, violet, iris, geranium, lavender – all the plants and flowers that make Grasse the perfume capital of the world. This soothing garden spanning more than five acres is covered in luxuriant vegetation organized by fragrance families – citrus, floral, woody, spicy, fruity, musky, etc. – which is very practical for perfume novices like us. Sometimes, as we approached a certain plant’s section, like the jasmine, we were surrounded by its fragrance before we even saw the bush!
During this lovely, sunny, scented walk, the fragrance expert explained to us, with passion and in-depth explanations, the history of these perfume plants, their characteristics, how they’re grown, as well as the various extraction methods, such as enfleurage, used to capture their essences. A unique aspect of this garden is that it is naturally maintained to preserve the biodiversity of the flora and fauna in this magnificent Mediterranean region. Along our olfactory journey, we stopped in the shade of the garden’s trees where our guide, armed with containers of raw materials and scent sticks, helped us exercise our sense of smell and olfactory memory. We felt like Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from that famous novel about perfume! It was so interesting – the sensory experience we had in this verdant paradise of smells and colors was unforgettable. With this new knowledge under our belts, next time we’ll try a perfume creation workshop.
We’ll try to plan our next visit in springtime, in the month of May, when the famed Centifolia rose is at its peak, as we’re told it’s a spectacular sight to see and smell.
Highlight #2 :
12h30 : A ROMANTIC DAY FOR TWO – MIDDAY: ROAMING THE NARROW LANES OF CABRIS
While Saint-Paul-de-Vence is known as the city of artists, Cabris is the village of writers. We’d heard about the illustrious authors who had stayed here: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, André Gide, Albert Camus, Max Gallo, Jean-Paul Sartre, and even Simone de Beauvoir. So we wanted to explore for ourselves this village built on the ruins of a medieval castle destroyed during the French Revolution. First, we had lunch at one of the best restaurants in town, with a one-toque Gault & Millau rating, serving Mediterranean cuisine that revisits the tastes of yesteryear with wonderful creativity. The restaurant is inside a building that used to be the castle’s stables and has a magnificent period fireplace where the meats are roasted, as well as a terrace giving us an incredible view over the entire Bay of Cannes, from the Gulf of La Napoule to the Lérins Islands, all the way to the Esterel and Saint-Cassien Lake.
Cabris ... A breathtaking view of the Mediterranean
Afterwards, we strolled through the little streets of this enchanting hilltop village with old stone buildings at every turn, as romantic a setting as we’d been told. With its petite houses clustered together in the village center, Cabris has all the old-fashioned charm we could wish for, a timeless ambiance that awakens the senses. Tiny stone huts, a campanile, and an old church with a sculpted pulpit, holy-water font, rustic altarpiece, and several chapels – we felt like we’d gone back in time to the 18th or 19th century. Here and there were little shops where craftspeople sold their wares: handcrafted olive wood objects, stained glass windows, ceramics, tablecloths with Provencal patterns, little santon figures from Provence, and even crests bearing the effigy that’s on the Cabris coat of arms, a silver goat against a background of azure blue.
Highlight #3 :
AN AFTERNOON OF PAMPERING FOR TWO
"Caille - Journey to the land of well-being"
Our afternoon continued at a most extraordinary spa. This welcoming chalet in the Grasse backcountry, facing the Audibergue and Moulière ski slopes, is home to a well-being and relaxation area spanning 2,200 square feet, all of it reserved for just the two of us for four hours. The hushed atmosphere was so soothing, and the décor was authentic from floor to ceiling: exposed-brick walls, slab tiles in shades of tobacco brown, whitewashed walls, omnipresent wood – everything came together for a great experience. A welcome basket containing bathrobes, towels, and flip-flops was waiting for us, so we could make the most of the sumptuous amenities: balneotherapy tub, sauna, hammam, marble massage table, and hot sand bed inside, a Jacuzzi and swim spa outside. Everything we could want was there, to help us shake off our cares and just pamper ourselves.
After such a thoughtful welcome, giving us so much time to relax in this Garden of Eden in complete privacy, the spa specialists gave us exquisite body treatments – we could choose from a selection of massages from all over the world. First, we took advantage of the famous bathing ceremony, followed by an exfoliation to make our skin soft, then a wrap enjoyed on beds of hot sand that boost your body with minerals. Next, our pampering took on the tropical aromas of Polynesia, then Africa in a stress-relieving chocolate treatment, then Syria with Damascus rose, and India for an Ayurvedic treatment…Indonesia, Japan…our senses took a trip around the world. Had we known that the spa was offering a special romantic package with a candlelit dinner and a night’s stay in a king-size bed sprinkled with rose petals, we would have prolonged this magical moment here.
Sleeping in the wild
"Thorenc - The Monts d’Azur Biological Reserve"
Still floating on air after our spa session, we wanted to stay in an unusual place for the night, one as poetic as the day we’d just experienced. A Provencal chapel? A transparent bubble so we could admire the starry sky? A medieval coaching inn? In the end, we chose an ecolodge, to sleep in the middle of the wildlife on a vast nature reserve. A small, comfortable cocoon, with delicate décor in shades of white and beige, was our lodging for the night, a beautiful experience of natural luxury in harmony with nature. We had dinner around an outdoor barbecue, then a rustic wash on the patio with a watering can holding a couple gallons of water, organic soap, and an old-fashioned basin – we had everything we needed to feel like a couple of true adventurers. From our cozy lodge, we had a stunning view of the great plain and the lakes of the nature reserve and silently watched the wild animals as they went about their nighttime rituals: bison, elk, wild boar, Przewalski's horses, and more.
Resembling the animal profiles seen in prehistoric cave art, the Przewalski's horse constitutes the oldest horse population living in the wild. Though domesticated nearly 5,500 years ago, it was returned to the wild and is considered a “feral” species. Discovered in 1879 in Dzungaria, in the mountains bordering the Gobi Desert, it has distinctive, primitive features: a small size (only 48-56 inches, or 12-14 hands, at the withers), a large head, a strong neck, a dark, erect mane, and a dun coat with faint striping. Impossible to tame by nature, it cannot be trained or ridden, and woe be to those who try, as it can deliver powerful kicks with its hooves! This equine species, considered extinct in the wild, was able to breed and propagate thanks to zoo specimens and was gradually reintroduced to roam freely in nature reserves in the 1990s.