The soap

Tradition

Publié le 12 July 2015 Mis à jour le 8 December 2018

Le Savon

Made in Marseille, Made in Provence and now a protected name!

You have to earn the name Made in Marseille! A pure, genuine and authentic 'Savon de Marseille' must be made with at least 72 % vegetable oil (this indication is stamped on one side) and produced using artisan methods. But I agree - it's not always easy to see the wood for the trees when you're faced with a wall of soap in the shops currently springing up all over the place and on the market stalls of Provence. It's always best to check out the label, because bona fide 'Savon de Marseille' should only contain 3 ingredients: olive oil, palm or copra oil and soda (which disappears during the manufacturing process).

Le Savon

Marseille soap store

Le Savon

Authentic Marseille soap

Le Savon

Back in the 17th century, Marseille was an ideal manufacturing base, with Provence providing plentiful quantities of the natural ingredients used to make 'Savon de Marseille': olive oil, soda and Camargue salt. Its port was perfect for developing the soap trade and the flourishing soap industry spread to Salon-de-Provence. At the time, soap was manufactured by oil makers.
There are currently only 4 soap makers left in Marseille and Salon-de-Provence: the 'Savonnerie du Midi', 'Savonnerie du Fer à Cheval' 'Savonnerie du Sérail' and 'Savonnerie Marius Fabre', which still use the ancient cauldron manufacturing technique practised by master soap makers. All 4 manufacturers are grouped under the 'Marseille Union of Soap Professionals' (ASPM) label – a quality charter guaranteeing the soap's origin and extra-pure composition, with 100% vegetable oil and no perfumes, colourings or additives.
Various other soap makers also use old-fashioned artisan techniques. Not all of them use the cauldron method, but they do use pure vegetable oils for their traditional soap cubes. And that's not all: 'Savon de Marseille' manufacturing techniques are set to evolve with the emergence of the more-ecological 'cold process' technique, which does not pollute the environment. Brands include the 'Savonnerie du Regagnas' in Trets and 'Savonnerie d'Antan' in Meyrargues.

Good news! To fight counterfeits, 'Savon de Marseille' soap has (finally) been awarded its own Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), guaranteeing genuine 'Savon de Marseille', Made in Provence – watch out for the label next time you're purchasing.
'Extra-Pure' Savon de Marseille is found in bars and cubes and is ideal for cleansing sensitive skins, cleaning minor wounds and removing stains. In stick form, it is excellent for the teeth and gums - so you really will be washing your mouth out with soap ;-). Slices are used to repel moths, liquid is perfect for household and garden use and flakes are used for delicate clothes.
The local soap makers often jazz up their soaps with perfume or colouring for a more pretty range. But beware, these soaps cannot lay claim to the Extra-Pure label as they have added extra ingredients.
Most artisan soap makers offer guided tours to share their time-honoured know-how. This is a great way to check out the authenticity of the products on offer and ensure they are bona fide Made in Marseille or Made in Provence.

Le Savon

The manufacturing

What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul
Le Savon

Another kind of Marseille soap !

"Ma Cigale est Fantastique" introduces you to the very best the South of France and Provence have to offer. "Ma Cigale" shares a hand-picked selection of cultural, touristic and gastronomic events and unveils a host of Made in Provence gems, tips and top addresses. A must!

http://www.macigaleestfantastique.com/

Other articles

The MEDITERRANEAN SEA

The MEDITERRANEAN SEA

Lifestyle

When we talk about the South of France, what's the first thing we think of? The MEDITERRANEAN SEA! (and the sun of course – it's all part of the package).

La Provence

La Provence

Provence is more than a simple destination, it's a whole way of life!

Calissons

Calissons

Aix-en-Provence prides in concocting 'Calisson' candies made with a thin candied melon paste and ground almonds topped with royal icing. Yummy

The Thirteen Desserts

The Thirteen Desserts

Celebrating Christmas in Provence with the Thirteen Desserts...

La Poutargue

La Poutargue

'Boutargue', an amber-coloured jewel fished on the shores of Martigues...

The Marseille Thriller Novel – Crime School (PART2)

The Marseille Thriller Novel – Crime School (PART2)

Drawing its inspiration from the city's sulphurous reputation since the early 20th century, this literary movement is a spinoff from the 'Roman Noir' crime novel

The Marseille Thriller Novel

The Marseille Thriller Novel

It was born in the mid-Nineties but originates from the city's infamous reputation since the early 20th century.

Lights, Camera, Action! Provence and the Movies

Lights, Camera, Action! Provence and the Movies

The history of cinema in Provence dates back many years. And similarly to the region's artistic hall of fame, it was inspired by light...

As you may know, the very first moving picture was screened by the Lumière brothers ('Lumière' meaning 'light') on September 21st, 1895 in La Ciotat.

The Sun

The Sun

Sunshine, one of the fundamentals of life in the South…

The pizza

The pizza

When a tourist comes to Marseille, one of the first things they have to eat is the local speciality: Pizza!

The cicada

The cicada

The sun's rays are warming you through the pine trees, but you will not know if the summer is here until you hear THE CICADAS!

La pétanque

La pétanque

This sport (yes, Pétanque is a sport, but we'll talk about that later) is an intrinsic part of life in Marseille and has been from generation to generation!

Every quarter has its own boules court and/or boules association, including, of course, a watering hole...