WESM

Eleanor Beardsley

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GRASSE, France — The town of Grasse sits in the hills above the more famous French Riviera city of Cannes, and it doesn't have the Mediterranean Sea at its doorstep. What it does have is fields of flowers — jasmine, May rose, tuberose, lavender. It is known as the perfume capital of the world.

It wasn't always this way. Back in the18th and 19th centuries, the industry took off in Grasse in part because this was an absolutely putrid-smelling town.

PARIS — Colette Maze welcomes me warmly into her apartment on the 14th floor of a building overlooking the Seine River. From her flowered balcony, she has a view of the Eiffel Tower. She offers me a whiskey or a cognac — along with a hearty laugh as it's 10:30 in the morning.

It's that humor, a sense of optimism and her beloved piano that have buttressed and comforted this centenarian through an often difficult life. Maze has just released her sixth album at the age of 107.

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