110 Years of Expertise

Marius-Fabre-Soap-Factory

It smelled clean, fresh, like when I take a deep breath in that aisle at the grocery store. Darren doesn’t understand why I love that smell so much but he knows that I always take a few extra minutes in that aisle, regardless if we need it or not. I take it in and feel an instant euphoria. I love the smell of fresh, natural soap. Considering my infatuation with it, you’d think that I knew more about how it’s made. It’s surprising how little I know about the products I use daily. I wouldn’t do very well in an apocalypse or a zombie invasion. I’ve participated in several unique experiences before but today was my first time at a soap factory. With 110 years of family tradition and expertise, I followed the process of Marseilles soap making at the Marius Fabre Soap Factory.

Marius Fabre Collage

Since 1900, in Salon-de-Procence, the Marius Fabre family have passed down their traditional expertise in producing Marseilles soap as well as olive oil-based black (liquid) soap. Their secret production techniques guarantee a natural product that is not only good for the skin, but respects the environment too. Marie and Julie Bousquet-Fabre are proud to carry on the tradition started in 1900 by their great-grandfather.

Soap Making Process

Following a traditional production procedure that ensures nothing is left to chance, Marius Fabre Marseilles soap is still baked in a cauldron and dried by the mistral, that famous northerly wind. Fourteen days are needed to produce it, based exclusively on vegetable oils, including the precious olive oil. The fifteen works in the Marius Fabre soap factory still follow the same methods today, respecting the expertise, patience, and high standards of the family.

Marius Fabre Soap Stamp

While I couldn’t experience in the entire process, I did get to see the soap bubbling in the cauldron and hear the explanation of the soap making process. We also watched as the soap was cut and stamped for production. I was fascinated with how quickly the worker stamped the soap. He rhythmically slammed his hand down in a straight, continuous line, leaving his mark… the label of Savon de Marseille.

Marius Fabre Soap Stamping

We were given the chance to test our soap production skills with an opportunity to stamp  a bar of soap ourselves. I smashed the mallet against the stamp that was over the soap and pulled it back to reveal my masterpiece. My uneven,smudged mark was left in the soap; regardless of the appearance, I was proud to be part of the process rather than just standing by. I had no idea so much work went into creating that little bar of soap that I mindlessly use every day.

Marius Fabre Soap Collage

We were given our piece of soap to take home with us and I will use it less haphazardly now that I’ve experienced the process. I think I’ll put it in my clothes closet as a daily reminder of my experience at Marius Fabre Soap Factory. When I’m given the opportunity to witness how things work or how they are made, I have a better appreciation for my time and the products that I use.

Marius Fabre Soap

I’ll still take a few extra minutes in the soap and detergent isle at the grocery store but now I’ll cherish the process more as well and every time I walk into my closet and smell that fresh, clean scent of Marius Fabre soap, I’ll be grateful for the adventure.

*This journey was made possible with help from Atout France; however, as you probably know by now, all opinions & thoughts are my own.*

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23 thoughts on “110 Years of Expertise

  1. You’ve heard of the Bulk Barn, right? They also sell special soaps but I haven’t used any in about 25 years or so. I cannot remember how natural they are or if they create suds.

    What about Marius Fabre Soap. Does it create suds?

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  2. I’m also an absolute sucker for Marseilles soap. It’s one of my most favourite smells in the world. In France and Spain it’s used in quite a few of the laundry powder/liquid products – imagine Lesley, linen and clothes smelling of Marseille soap! Bliss 😀

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  3. What a cool thing to do!!! I love reading your blog…as I recover from my mastectomy I get to vicariously live through your blog and enjoy your travels.I so envy people who are able to do it all!!! One day when I am better hopefully people will vicariously live through my travels. #1 on my list any where tropical lol!! More specific Bora Bora or Tahiti !!!

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  4. Most of the handmade soaps I find here in the US are rose, ocean/tropical, some form of citrus, or mint. I appreciate the subtlety of the scents in French soaps. Of course, lavender is the stereotypical Provencal soap, but my favorites are olive oil/leaf (wonderful in the shower), linden and a honey-shea butter bar from L’Occitane that I first found in Avignon. The latter makes a great sachet in my clothes drawers.

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