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To extract fragrances from flowers, plants or other natural material as efficiently as possible and to fulfil the exponentially increasing demands of the market, perfume makers, throughout history, have developed a variety of extraction and conservation techniques to obtain the purest and most highly concentrated forms of raw materials.
Advances made in modern chemistry allow natural smells to be reproduced in laboratories.
The main flowers are :
Rose, picked only at dawn when the perfume is strongest. The rose most commonly used in perfume making is the famous rosa centifolia or May rose, which is cultivated around Grasse and also in Turkey, Bulgaria and Morocco.
Jasmine, the white flower most used many perfumes, helped establish Grasse s reputation for perfumes and today is also imported from Spain, North Africa and India.
Tuberose, native to Mexico, was introduced to Grasse during the 17th century and is also common in India.
Orange blossom, a symbol of virginity, is cultivated in Provence, Italy and Egypt.
When distilled it produces an essence called neroli and the water from distillation is the popular orange blossom water.
Lavender, fields of which cover the plateau of Haute Provence, is now used mainly in masculine fragrances.
Mimosa, which epitomizes the Grasse region during the end of winter, is a petal-less flower and its little yellow florets are composed entirely of stamens.
Ylang-Ylang is a voluptuous flower produced by gnarled trees commonly found in islands in the Indian Ocean: the Comoros archipelago, Mauritius, Reunion and Madagascar.
Fruits and their peels add a refreshing citrus note or an exotic touch :
Lemon from Italy, California and the Ivory Coast.
Bergamot from Calabria in Italy, the Ivory Coast and Spain.
Orange, mainly produced in California but also in Spain.
Mandarin, native to China where they were traditionally given as gifts to Mandarins, is now harvested around the Mediterranean, especially in Italy.
Grapefruit, native to Israel and the United States.
Vanilla, native to Mexico and now cultivated around the Indian Ocean.