The Flowers that Make Chanel No. 5

In late spring, the bees arrive at Joseph Mul’s fields near Pégomas, France, at around nine-thirty each morning. The unmarked fifty acres border a gravel path, which veers off a country road that cuts through a sheltered valley. To the northeast, one can make out the dark-blue mounds of the pre-Alps. A tickly breeze blows in from the Mediterranean, a few miles to the east. For non-pollinators, the site is almost impossible to find. This is intentional, as, since the mid-nineteen-eighties, the Mul family has had an exclusive partnership to grow jasmine and roses for Chanel. The company uses the flowers to make Chanel No. 5—a perfume that, in the way of a Cavaillon melon or a piece of Sèvres porcelain, comes from a specific place.