PARIS — Chanel on Thursday released an open letter taking a stance on a new train line that threatens to run through its fields of flowers near the French town of Grasse that are used for the house’s perfume production.
Over the past 30 years, Chanel has been present in the environs of Grasse, notably in the Siagne valley, in association with the Mul family, which for numerous generations has specialized in growing of jasmine and rose. Jasmine from Grasse and May rose are specifically destined for the making of Chanel No. 5, for instance.
“Today, the site hitherto protected is faced with a new menace,” the luxury house wrote. “The New Provence Côte d’Azure Line between Le Muy and Cannes, with the implementation of a new West Alpes-Maritimes train station could, depending on the route selected, necessitate a crossing of the Siagne valley at the level of Pégomas municipality with the implementation of a viaduct traversing the flower fields.”
Chanel said it goes without saying that the construction of such a viaduct and the regular passing of high-speed trains on it would oblige the house to cease supporting the region’s artisanal activities.
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Chanel said that over the past few decades it has been resolutely engaged in preserving the ancestral savoir-faire of the Grassois perfume profession and in maintaining the region’s traditional production of flowers destined for fragrances. The house added such efforts have benefited the local economy, environment and renown of Grasse and its surrounding communities.
This is not the first time Chanel has needed to protect its flower fields. In 2009, the house protested the implementation of a waste center near them. At the time, the general counsel of the Alpes-Maritimes region ruled in Chanel’s favor, and the project was abandoned. The house then expanded its presence in the area — doubling the acreage of its plantations and renovating its flower extraction factory, among other actions.
Regarding the pending train line, Chanel said in the letter that it backs a proposition involving the location of the new station in Cannes La Bocca, on the site of an old goods station, which is owned by France’s national state-owned railway company, the SNCF. Among other benefits of such a move is the creation of urban renewal, Chanel outlined.