Savon de Marseille |France’s Favorite Soap

Enamelware French soap dish



I am in love with French soap, you too? Hand made, rich and so good for your hands! In this post I’ll share the history of Savon de Marseille, France’s favorite soap.  Our new Savon de Marseille gift set is perfect for your hands. {The scent is like organic olives, so not for those of you who are used to perfumed soaps.} Used for generations in France as a natural soap in every home!



marius farbe soap



Marseille, France, is the birthplace of that iconic soap, Savon de Marseille. Since the Middle Ages, the Marseille soap has been made from olive oil without colors or preservatives. The authentic Savon de Marseille are made using centuries old methods.



The olive oil from the Provence region is what makes this soap special, combined with natural ash from plants grown in the Camargue area.



olive oil savon de marseille soaps in bucket



In the 17th century, Marseille became the main soap production center of France.  In 1688, Louis XIV issued the Edict of Colbert, which stipulated that no butter or other animal fats could be used in the soap mixture, but only pure olive oil.  If anything else was used the “merchandise would be confiscated.”





The Savon de Marseille was to be made in huge cauldrons only.  The edict also ordered that the production be stopped in the summer, because the heat affected the quality of the olive oil.  It also forbade the use of fresh oil before May, as the oil needed to mature after the annual winter pressing.


Any one caught breaking these rules 4 times would be banished from Provence for life!  Because these strict rules have been obeyed ever since, Savon de Marseille became famous world wide for purity and quality.




French antique soap dish with cube soap



Savon de Marseille Label 


For hundreds of years, soap production has been the cornerstone of Marseille. After Louis XIV first regulated and protected the quality production methods, the soap manufacturers continued to follow and respect the centuries old traditional methods.


The soap production is quite something!  Boiled in great big vats, then poured into cooling forms and allowed to air dry. The mistral {winds of Provence} aids in the drying process.  The large slabs are cut by a slicer that is hand operated like it was centuries ago, then each bar is hand stamped. Finally, the bars or slabs are hand cut into blocks.




In 2015, regulatory labeling was passed, which gives soap producers in Provence the right to label their authentic soap Savon de Marseille Garanti.  The Marseille soap is having a resurgence, and that true Marseille label distinguishes the real Savon de Marseille from other, lesser quality soaps.


Standards for Authentic Marseille Soap.

It was so interesting to learn all about the Marseille soap, it’s history, and what the difference is between the “authentic” soaps and others.


The new Label Savon de Marseille Garanti implies the following quality standards have been met:

  • Made in Marseille or immediate region
  • Fabricated by using ancient cauldrons with traditional methods
  • Exclusively use vegetal oils
  • Without perfumes, colorants or preservatives


Authentic Savonneries of Marseille


Today, there are only four “real” savonneries of Marseille soap left in France.  They are:  Marius Fabre, Fer à Cheval, Le Sérail, and Savonnerie du Midi.



French soap store



I am honored to be able to sell Marius Fabre to our FrenchGardenHouse clients, because I love their quality, and their family business.  Their soaps are made without using palm oil, because the use of palm oil is wrecking havoc on the world’s rainforests, and threatening the food supplies of monkeys and other animals.



savon de marseille history



Natural soaps that have no synthetic colors like these will change color as they cure, which can take up to 12 months after they are manufactured. Especially the olive soaps can change color from dark green to light beige. Left in the open air, it’s normal that some moisture will evaporate out of the soap, the cube can become slightly smaller, harder, longer lasting, and even gentler on your skin. The harder the soap, the longer it lasts and the more lather it produces!


French COuntry olive oil soap


We are all re-discovering the virtue of natural, environmental friendly products, and this soap is one of my favorites. It’s a wonderful, French alternative to petroleum and chemical based products. These cube soaps have been the workhorses of French kitchens, laundry rooms and greenhouses for centuries.  I had this set made with the 200 g cubes, because I personally have a difficult time handling those huge blocs of soap. These are the right size, small enough to be able to use, big enough to use as our French gardener did long ago by running the bristles of a nail brush over it to lather up!


You can take a tour of the Marseille Soap Factory in Provence – there is a shop, too.






If you want to visit the factory for a tour while in France:
Avenue Paul-Bourret
13651 Salon-de-Provence
Tél. 04 90 53 24 7

Winter : From Sept.1st to June 30th :

For individual visitors (no need to book) : Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:30 am, Wednesdays 2:30 pm.

Summer – From July 1st to August 31st :

For individual visitors (no need to book) : Monday to Saturday from 10:30 am and 2:30 pm.


The set of three cubes of Savon de Marseille is especially packaged as a gift set exclusively for us at FrenchGardenHouse. The set comes in a cello bag, tied with a French red-white-blue ribbon and a tag featuring the French garanti label.



French cube soap in a gift set



Marseille Savon slices




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8 thoughts on “Savon de Marseille |France’s Favorite Soap”

  1. Alice Genzlinger

    I would like to use this soap but because I react to most soaps I need to know all the ingredients in the Savon de Marseille soap. When I purchase the soap I use I take it out of its package and place it in a bowl to dry out so that it last longer when I need it. That was a great hint. Oh, Susan loves the bunny picture. I haven’t received the majolica plate . Can hardly wait.

    1. Alice, I understand. The soap is actually so pure that almost everyone with a allergy can use. I am so happy Susan loved your gift! And your Majolica will arrive very very soon. Thank you again for your order!

  2. Jean Van

    Hello, Lidy,
    I loved the story about the French soap’s,my friend who live’s in France now a long time ago gave me some with some hankie’s as a gift when she came to visit me, long time ago but I so enjoyed the soap’s, the story was so special and really so good that they keep the same way of making it. Thank’s for all the prettie’s on here and as alway’s so lovely displayed. Happy March~~~~~~~~~~
    Bonjour, Jean~~~~~~~~~~

  3. Pamela

    WHY would you send out an email featuring a product that when someone goes to see the cost to purchase, finds its sold out? Why do a special mailing on something you didn’t have that many of on hand?

    1. Pamela,
      I’m so sorry, we had quite a lot of soaps in stock, the slab soaps did all sell out in one day.  We still have plenty of the Marseille cubes for sale though. The email you received wasn’t a special newsletter but this blog post that you subscribe to. 
      I’m sorry that the slab soaps were all sold out!

  4. Alice agenzlinger

    Lidy, I enjoyed the Cherries Jubilee tea that you sent with the beautiful majolica plate so much that I’m placing another order. I can’t thank you enough. I’m so pleased with the plate also. Thank you again.

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