Grasse - Encyclopedia

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GRASSE, a town in the French department of the Alpes Maritimes (till 1860 in that of the Var), 12 2 m. by rail N. of Cannes. Pop. (1906) town, 13,958; commune, 20,305. It is built in a picturesque situation, in the form of an amphitheatre and at a height of 1066 ft. above the sea, on the southern slope of a hill,. facing the Mediterranean. In the older (eastern) part of the town the streets are narrow, steep and winding, but the new portion (western) is laid out in accordance with modern French ideas. It possesses a remarkably mild and salubrious climate, and is well supplied with water. That used for the purpose of the factories comes from the fine spring of Foux. But the drinking water used in the higher portions of the town flows, by means of a conduit, from the Foulon stream, one of the sources of the Loup. Grasse was from 1244 (when the see was transferred hither from Antibes) to 1790 an episcopal see, but was then included in the diocese of Frejus till 1860, when politically as well as ecclesiastically, the region was annexed to the newly formed department of the Alpes Maritimes. It still possesses a 12th-century cathedral, now a simple parish church; while an ancient tower, of uncertain date, rises close by near the town hall, which was formerly the bishop's palace (13th century). There is a good town library, containing the muniments of the abbey of Lerins, on the island of St Honorat opposite Cannes. In the chapel of the old hospital are three pictures by Rubens. The painter J. H. Fragonard (1732-1806) was a native of Grasse, and some of his best works were formerly to be seen here (now in America). Grasse is particularly celebrated for its perfumery. Oranges and roses are cultivated abundantly in the neighbourhood. It is stated that the preparation of attar of roses (which costs nearly £roo per 2 lb) requires alone nearly 7,000,000 roses a year. The finest quality of olive oil is also manufactured at Grasse. (W. A. B. C.)

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