I have arrived safe and sound back to the beautiful home of my heart- Grasse, France.  I got in last night, after a very long journey from Canada.  I caught the bus from the Nice airport- and after wrestling my two large and one small loaded down suitcases (more raw materials and books/papers than clothes) down into the old city,  I was met by my friend Julie who had my keys.  She than kindly helped carry everything up to the 5th floor where I live.

I was nervous all week- not sure how it would feel to be back in Grasse this time.  I have been in Canada for the last 11 months, and it is always a huge shift to jump between cultures and worlds- and I often feel so slightly schizophrenic in which place I belong to.  The longer I spend in one place the bigger leap it is to return to the other.  (I still think there should be some sort of psychotherapy for this sort of dilemma).

However, as soon as the bus entered the outskirts of Grasse, I felt a surge of excitement.  And certainly, as soon as I unlocked the door and stepped into my apartment, I breathed the huge sigh of relief that one does after being away from home for a long time.

Now today, after a heavy sleep (thanks Jordanna! melatonin really works!)- I am unpacking and settling back into this lovely space.  It is cold (these old buildings are not made for cold weather, and last night it was -1 C), but it is bright and familiar, and I am excited to get to work creating the perfume that has been percolating in my mind for the last 6 months.

View from my desk...

this is my haven….

Here is a photo of my little home- tucked into the honey comb of the old city- on the third floor above the narrow little stone street.


Sunday is the anniversary of my birth, 37 years ago, and two dear friends from school and I are going to Monaco to eat good food, and dance the night away.  The air will be fragranced with mounds of jasmine in full bloom and the heady fragrance of the lemon and orange trees.  Life, for me,  is truly precious and fragrantly beautiful! 

May it be for all of you as well.

how to contact Jessica!

Ok this is a test…..if there is anyone out there besides my Mom reading this blog- I invite you to stop being shy, get off your butts and get involved- write me a note, ask me a question, tell me what you’re up to.  Let’s make this site a bit more interactive.  And, just so you all know, you can write to me (or send care packages) at my home- 4 Rue Marcel Journet, Grasse  06130

I also have a phone number now as well, but I’ll only tell you what it is if you write to me………

doing laundry in the sub-Alps

Yesterday afternoon I made my first visit to a Laverie.  So far, since I’ve been in France (74 days already!), I’ve done all my laundry by hand.  Thankfully there was another customer there who showed me how the system works, otherwise I would have had to haul everything home again, defeated by the puzzle. The method is this- on the wall in the corner of the tiny room is what looks like a typical launderette change machine, only here it is also where you punch in the code of whatever machine you want to activate and put in the money to pay for it. This goes for both washers and dryers. The Laverie is also quite the place for flirting, and after a couple of attempted wooings, I was very happy I hadn’t brought any underwear that could have fallen out of the dryer at the most inopportune moment. Keep in mind this is a very small facility with barely enough elbow room to fold your T-shirts.

Anyway, with a basket full of clean linens, and an unsolicited phone number, I headed out the door into the most dramatic electrical storm I’ve seen here, with a fairly torrential downpour of rain interspersed with slush.  The Alps are very close when the Mistral decides to blow.

Speaking of the Alps, five of us from school went up in to the mountains Friday afternoon.  I had been to Gourdon a few days ago, a tiny stone village perched on the tip of a mountain, but hadn’t been past where the oaks turn to scrubby pine and lentisque and the groundcover is all wild thyme and then further up wild lavandin.  We went all the way to a ski hill where we found snow and had a snowball fight. The landscape up there is very dramatic, rocky and the road is a windy narrow highway. We were high up in the Sub-Alps, and at times, other than the stone farm buildings, it seemed like we could be in Canada. Along the way,  I saw a broken ancient little hamlet that I must go back to for a picnic. (During July, when the lavender is in full bloom).  Perhaps some of you will be able to join me?

delivering to a medieval city

The complications of setting up in France, hopefully, as of this morning, are over!  Two days ago, with the help of school-mates, we got the fridge home, barely, begrudgingly (sometimes people say yes and mean no).  Then yesterday, the delivery company from Ikea called to ask if I had gone to the police to get the permit required to enter the old city and deliver my furniture!  Unfortunately, I had been told (by someone, no idea who) that that was the responsibility of the delivery company.  After many phone calls and attempts to solve the problem, all in French, by everyone but me, of course, the furniture was dropped off at the school!   So after school yesterday,  phase one took place and we took one load of girls and pillows, bedding and chairs back into town and to my home.

This morning, we loaded the rest in to two small cars- a mattress, sommier (what the mattress rests on), table and coffee table along with 5 people (!) and caravaned into the old city.  Cars can access my street between 7pm and 10am (unless you have a permit), otherwise it is just for pedestrians, which I really appreciate except at times like this!  Keep in mind that the street is only as wide as a small car and although it was before 10 this morning, we still got hassled by the police for stopping and unloading.

Anyway, that’s an update.  As for school, we have now covered over 200 raw materials, and my lexicon of chemical names is large and still growing.  What a learning curve!  Today, as on all Fridays, we covered naturals, including two animalics- castoreum and civet. Very interesting, although somewhat revolting.  Actually I like the smell of castoreum; heavy sweet oily animalic inner bark of a birch tree in Spring. It’s the thought of killing the beaver for this scent that is horrible.

Speaking of Spring, I saw buds unfurling on the tips of a fig tree the other day revealing fresh green perfect baby leaves. A most perfect time of year…………..

By the way,  happy belated Women’s Day- hier Mars 8th  🙂