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Monday, May 5, 2014
MONTE CARLO, MONACO--Just before reaching Monaco is Ese, France, a small town about 1.5 hours ride from Nice, France.
Since our group of travelers was dominantly female, we made a brief stopover here to visit the factory and sales office of a perfumery, the Fragonard Parfumeur.
Less than an hour. That's how masterfully fast it took for the marketing and sales officer, fluent in both French and English, to walk us through the production process, to the display center for all its products, and finally closing sales.
A smooth communicator, she distinguished the Esau du toilette from the cologne to the perfume. Told that a certain scent was "strong," she offered the alternate "long lasting because it stays on for 6 to 10 hours."
Fragonard Parfumeur makes its various parfums (perfumes) from flowers all over the world. Asian country sources are Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, India, Thailand, China and Taiwan. The Philippines is among its sources of ilang-ilang.
The cost of production is due to the process of perfecting the aroma to the volume of raw materials needed. To create one liter of a rose perfume, at least 400 rose petals are needed. Other scents need a ton of petals for one liter.
Among its top-selling perfumes is the Belle du unit taken from the flower dama de noche.
Instrumental and strategic to the whole process is the master perfumer or the "Nose."
He can distinguish a thousand aromas. This. after ten years of specialization studies and training: three years of theory and seven years of experience.
To preserve his special skills, the Nose works only three hours a day. He must also live like a monk --- early sleeping, no drinking, no smoking, and no spicy foods.
Monaco is the second smallest state in the world, second only to the Vatican. Yet, it showcases the prestigious Grand Prix ever year, and boasts of being residences to the rich and famous from all over the world like Microsoft's Bill Gates, singer Bono of U2 and composer-singer Elton John.
Along the road is a building of exotic architectural design in blue and gold, and capped with a dome. It was once owned by the Shah of Persia, though it now houses a foreign country's embassy.
Also visible for its grandiosity and expanse is a Russian billionaire's house worth 400 million euros. By today's exchange rate of P62 to a euro, that's a whopping P25 billion. It once belonged to the King of Belgium.
Across the channel is Billionaires' Island. To reach it, one needs a yacht. Choices are to own one at cost of 400,000 to 800,000 euros, or to rent one at 1,800 euros per day.
People still remember lovingly the late Princess Grace Kelly Grimaldi. Of her two daughters, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie, the latter is like perfume, her good heart attentive to people's needs.
Stephanie has put up a medical facility for Monaco's citizens with AIDS. There they receive free check-up, treatment, medicine and even feeding.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 06, 2014.