Copyright The Columbia University PressThe Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. The Columbia University Press
Grasse, town (1990 pop. 42,077), Alpes-Maritime dept., SE France. Probably founded in Roman times, Grasse was a commercial center during the Middle Ages. Destroyed many times by the Saracens, it was an independent republic from the 12th cent. until its union with the earldom of Provence in 1226. In 1536 the town was destroyed by Francis I to prevent the advance of Emperor Charles V. Surrounded by fields of flowers and rose gardens, Grasse is a center of the French perfume industry. Points of interest include a splendid early Gothic cathedral (12th cent.); a town hall built partially in the Middle Ages; and a museum containing paintings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, who was born in Grasse.