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.
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