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:
MARIUS FABRE FACTORY
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

SHOP PROVENCE SOAP CUBES>

 

Marseille Savon slices

SHOP MARSEILLE SLAB SOAPS >

A BIENTOT

 

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