St Francois de Grasse is a tiny village situated a couple of miles to the east south-east of the old town of Grasse. Grasse sits above Cannes on the Cotedazur, commanding views right across the Bay Of Cannes as far as Nice and across the Esterel mountains and is famous for the production of perfume. There are a number of perfume production facilities in the town and the area around St Francois de Grasse is one of many that produce the flowers and the orange blossom which is used in the perfume creation process. Many different flowers are used, but the most common is a kind of orange blossom which if left produces quite bitter oranges, however the blossom is very sweet-smelling nut it takes 1000 kilos of blossom to make 1 kilo of the oil that is the basis for the production of perfume.
Grasse now, since 2005 has a smart new modern railway connection to Cannes which takes around 25 minutes through the hills and across the plain to that most wonderful Festival town. It takes the route of the old Perfume Line as it was known which was used until the second world war to transport perfume down from Grasse to Cannes and then on to the rest of the world. It fell into disrepair and was reopened 5 years ago as a passenger line, which hives the grassoise (the name given to the locals in Grasse) access to many lovely beach resorts along the coast, Nice, Monaco and even into Italy to pick up those smelly cheeses and olive oil. Grasse itself is the nearest local centre to St Francois de Grasse but the rural nature of the village means that there are many splendid walking and hiking routes in the area, almost without exception providing great views down to the Mediterranean, and on a clear day you can see Corsica in the far distance. the town of Grasse has a very nice old part, with tiny cobbled streets, leafy squares and tall ancient buildings which house many a craft shop, galleries, boutiques and cafes's to explore, there is even an Indian restaurant called Le Punjab and a Vietnamese restaurant almost next door.
Cannes itself is a must to experience. the port area, the old town, the seaside beach restaurants, and the Croisette with all its famous name hotels and so recognizable from seeing the Film festival on TV each May makes you think you know the place. Le Sucquet has Rue St Antoine winding up the hill to the old town with a plethora of restaurants to thrill you each side of this tiny cobbled street.
Nearby is the medieval village of Valbonne, which has a beautiful authentic Provencal square, not open to cars after midday where there are 5 or 6 cafe's at which to enjoy a glass of pastis, a chilled glass of the local rose or to eat lunch and people watch. English is heard a lot around this village as there is a big ex pat contingent living in the village
Staying in St Francois de Grasse in anything other than a private villa is impossible. There are a few hotels in Grasse which probably don't meet internationally accepted standards, but are quirky and interesting, or you can push the boat out and book The Carlton or The Martinez in Cannes. However, a much more cost-effective solution is to rent one of the many private villas that are available through several English speaking agencies in the area.
Getting to Grasse (going to Grasse?) is simple. Junction 42 of the mainA8 motorway has a dual carriageway link to Grasse about 8 miles distant. Nice airport is some 30 minutes drive away with flights emanating from many European and English destinations including all 4 London airports. Flights also arrive daily from New York and Montreal amongst other exotic locations.