We’ve all seen their shops. They are in every country in the world, and there are 13 stores in Manhattan alone, not counting all the luxury retailers who stock their products.
But when you are in Provence and you see the lavender and the almonds and olives and the flowers growing, you understand the passion that created this company in 1976, to celebrate and preserve the traditions of Provence. The company name means “the Occitan woman from Provence.” Occitania was an area that existed during the Middle Ages, spanning southern France, north-eastern Spain and northern Italy. The Occitan language is still spoken as a second language in some areas of this region today.
We went to the factory and headquarters today, in the town of Manosque. Both the museum and the factory tour conspire to make you want all the products and marvel at what they can do for you. While we were restrained, we still came home with some nice products, suddenly more meaningful that they would be if we got them at our local shop on Broadway.
This seems like a perfectly nice company, trying always to do the right thing environmentally. In addition to products sourced from Provence, Shea butter is purchased directly from women’s groups in Burkina Faso. The shea tree is considered sacred, and its butter is known as “women’s gold” because it is how the women make their money. Shea butter traditions are still used, such as only fallen fruit may be collected by women, and only women know the secret to making shea butter. Over 11,000 women work in a collective for L’Occitane.
The town of Manosque naturally features the local products, and also offered a lovely lunch. Then the heat of the day led us home to our pool and a bit of relief. That sun keeps everything growing here!