Marius Fabre Soaps : Provence at Home

French guidebooks often highlight local specialties, be it an Orléanais crayfish flan or Alsatian elderflower wine. That’s how I discovered the Provencal soap maker Marius Fabre.  While fantasizing of a vacation, I leafed through a book on the South of France and spotted a mention of Savon de Marseille, Marseille soap, produced according to traditional methods. Duly noted, Marius Fabre went onto my list of things to try.

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Ever since I made my own scented soap as a first year perfumery trainee, I’ve been fascinated by the transformation that happens when fats, lye and perfume come together. One wrong ingredient, and a bar of snow white soap turns dirty yellow.  One more mistake–and the whole thing smells rancid, rather than delicious. So, when I stood with my nose pressed against a creamy bar of Marius Fabre’s jasmine soap, I knew that I had discovered something special.

Marius Fabre was founded in 1900, and it still remains a family business based in Salon de Provence.  The term “Savon de Marseille” refers to a specific manufacturing method in open-air cauldrons. In the 17th century, it meant soaps made in and around the Marseille area and only from olive oil, but today the regulations allow other vegetable fats as well. Whatever the open-air cauldron process accomplishes–I’m told that it takes 14 days to make soap the traditional way, I can only judge the quality based on scents, textures and the way my skin feels.

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First of all, the fragrances are incredible–strong and heady. If I close my eyes as I hold the Jasmin soap, I imagine myself standing under a blooming jasmine vine.  The flower scented bar was only rivaled by Santal, which smelled exactly like a pile of Mysore sandalwood shavings (dried roses and scalded milk). I also tried spicy and green Coriander, candy-like Violette, and bracing Lavande.  Another surprise was Miel de Bruyère, heather honey; it reminded me of sun-warmed honeycombs.

In the shower, the soaps created a thick, creamy lather, which dissolved completely and left no greasy residue. On the other hand, my skin, much abused by the hard water in Brussels, felt silky and soft. And strongly perfumed. When I had to test fragrances later that morning, I was told that my skin was “contaminated”–it still smelled of apricots and jasmine (though in most situations, this would be a good thing).

Also consider storing a bar in your linen closet. Unopened Sandalwood still smells of creamy woods 6 months later, and I love that my towels and bedding have absorbed this sweet, warm aroma.

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I don’t have to travel to Provence to find Marius Fabre’s products, since they are easy enough to buy both at natural food stores and online, but I would love to return and take a guided tour of the production workshops. A visit to its Musée du Savon de Marseille, which has the distinction of being the only soap museum in France, sounds like another quirky and fun activity.

Marius Fabre soaps are available directly at marius-fabre.comamazon.com, thefrenchybee.com, and various natural food stores. In Paris, you can also find them at Galeries Lafayette and Grande Epicerie de Paris. $13/14oz bar

Extra:  Olive Oil Source features an interesting article with photos on how Marius Fabre soaps are made.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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86 Comments

  • Austenfan: You know, I have never tried a single Fabre soap, despite being a huge fan of French artisanal soaps. I even lived in the area a long time ago. If I come across them I will have to acquire some. Purely for testing purposes of course.

    On another note: what material would you recommend for a mortar and pestle? I have been contemplating getting one, and have realised there are lots of options.

    Back when L’Occitane was still quite small, they had the most amazing orange flower soap. It was lovely. August 12, 2013 at 7:25am Reply

    • Annikky: I’ve got L’Occitane’s jasmine soap currently in use and I think it’s really good. I like my soaps to smell strong (and wonderful, of course) and this one delivers. While not such a nerdy kick as the smaller brands, L’Occitane still mostly delivers on quality, I think. August 12, 2013 at 7:41am Reply

      • Austenfan: It does; and I still like L’Occitane. I regret their policy of discontinuing things that I have grown fond of though. I am not as fond of their perfumes as I am of their body lotions and creams.
        I really like their Bonne Mère olive-lavande soap. It’s got a nice smell and leaves my skin quite soft. Another Bonne Mère product I like is the shower gel they introduced last year.

        I admire your restraint about the soap buying. I always buy some whenever I see any that seems particularly appealing. If my place would ever get flooded I think the foam alone would betray it’s location. August 12, 2013 at 7:50am Reply

        • Annikky: I find the rapid turnover annoying, too. And while I quite liked the fagrances in their new Grasse collection, the price gave me pause – you can have a small bottle of Mitsouko for the same amount of money! I’m not usually one to whine about prices – they are what they are and no-one is forcing me to buy anything -, but this just seemed wrong somehow.

          I am working on this dicipline thing, with varying degrees of success. This time I had already amassed quite a collection of St Amour jams by the time I got to the soaps, so I suspect it was more out of guilt than virtue that I managed to stay firm. That said, being impulsive about soaps is better than being the same with perfumes 🙂 August 12, 2013 at 9:05am Reply

          • Victoria: A similar thing happened at Chantecaille. They had a nice little collection of simple but pretty scents (tiare, rose, woods). And then they repackaged and reformulated them. The reformulation is fine, but the price almost doubled, and it no longer seems worth it. August 12, 2013 at 9:08am Reply

    • Victoria: The last time I bought their soaps was not even in Provence, it was in Amsterdam! I spotted Fabre’s products at Het Hanze Huis, a beautiful store on Staalstraat that sells nothing but products from old family businesses. They have perfumes, chocolates, soaps, pastries, teas, and much more. And their selection of Fabre’s soaps is impressive. If you’re ever in Amsterdam, the boutique is worth a visit.

      I have about 10 different ones, including an Indian flat grinding stone, but the most versatile variety is my Thai granite mortar & pestle. It’s heavy, but the heft makes it easier to crush spices and grind softer herbs. The large size is best if you want to make curry pastes, pesto or guacamole, because you can pound with impunity without worrying that the ingredients will spill out. For smaller quantities of spices (say, you want to crush 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom or a pinch of saffron), the smallest mortars are excellent. If you have an Asian grocery store near you, I would look there. I’ve also ordered at spicesofindia.co.uk. Enter “mortar” into the search box at their site, and you will see several options in stone and granite. The type they call stone is exactly like my Thai mortar and pestle. Lifting it is a good exercise for arm toning. 🙂

      I would steer away from marble or porcelain, because they are likely to chip if you pound coarse spices. Wooden mortars are good for pesto or aioli, but not at all for spices. Old-fashioned brass ones are beautiful, but they’re far too noisy. August 12, 2013 at 8:10am Reply

      • Austenfan: Thanks for the info on mortars and pestles. I had already read that granite was better than porcelain. I read somewhere else that the ones made out of volcanic stone are even better. I have found a shop that sells them. I’m just really glad of your opinion because I know you actually use them. August 12, 2013 at 9:45am Reply

        • Victoria: Volcanic stone mortars are excellent, but you really have to apply some effort to season them. First, you have to soak them for 24 hours and then scrub them with a stiff brush. Repeat 3-4 times. Then you have to grind raw rice to get rid of the remaining bits of stone. Once seasoned, it will be good to go, and you won’t get any specks of stone in your salsa or paste.

          Regular stone or granite works well enough for me. August 12, 2013 at 11:44am Reply

          • Austenfan: Thanks again. That is very helpful. Granite mortars are so much easier to find. So that makes the decision pretty strait forward. August 12, 2013 at 4:06pm Reply

            • Victoria: Then I look forward to hearing about your new pet. 🙂 August 13, 2013 at 4:53am Reply

      • solanace: I’m very glad with this info too, since I only own wood mortars (typical Brazilian) and am considering buying a stone one at the Asian market. August 12, 2013 at 11:12am Reply

        • Victoria: I have an olive wood mortar which I bought more than 10 years ago. I no longer use it much, but I love how beautiful the wood became overtime–burnished and smooth. August 12, 2013 at 11:48am Reply

      • Andy: Thank you for the information, I love learning about cookware! I found a huge basalt (or it might be non-traditional granite) molcajete for a good price that I’m thinking of buying, it seems similar to the Thai one you’ve mentioned. Since I’m such a fan of Mexican cooking, I’m definitely considering it. If I can at least lift it off the store shelves, that is. 🙂 August 13, 2013 at 11:22am Reply

        • Victoria: Just check that there is the stone doesn’t leave specks when you use your mortar for the first time. It’s a good idea to pound something just to season it–raw rice soaked in water or some ginger. The heft of the stone makes it very easy to crush just about anything, and you get a hang of pounding, you will wonder why you would ever need to use food processor for pesto and the like (unless you make them in very large quantities, of course). 🙂

          Plus, the spices retain significantly more aroma when pounded vs ground in a coffee grinder. The metal blades heat them up, while the stone doesn’t. And the fibers become soft and tender in the final powder. August 13, 2013 at 12:25pm Reply

          • Andy: I’ve been reading up, and it seems that some even suggest taking the molcajete to a self-service car wash, with the idea of using the powerful spray hoses to dislodge any grit! Apparently, 10 minutes of this treatment will do the same job, with a lot less elbow grease. But if I do try this, I’ll probably do the rice treatment afterwards, just to make sure everything has been removed.

            Right now, I have a porcelain mortar and pestle, and while it does the job (usually I’m just grinding a few teaspoons of coriander or peppercorns) I think it would be fun to have the Mexican variety to make and serve authentic salsas and guacamole. August 13, 2013 at 2:44pm Reply

            • Austenfan: The idea of taking my mortar and pestle to a car wash made me nearly spill my tea! August 13, 2013 at 3:38pm Reply

              • Andy: Oh, sorry about that! I will do most anything in the name of good cooking, so if news stories surface of a stranger washing his cookware at the car wash, you’ll know who it is! 😉

                And to see this car wash method in action, this tutorial 🙂 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qj54KFYm7s4 August 13, 2013 at 4:50pm Reply

                • Victoria: My husband just came in and asked if I’m ok. I was in tears laughing. 🙂

                  Off to watch the tutorial. 🙂 August 13, 2013 at 5:08pm Reply

                • Austenfan: Thanks, that was hilarious! August 13, 2013 at 5:20pm Reply

            • Victoria: Wow! It would never have occurred to me. If I will try to do this at our local car wash, I can just imagine the faces. Now that alone would be worth a try. 🙂 August 13, 2013 at 4:53pm Reply

              • Austenfan: I suggest you do so bringing all your mortars and pestles! August 13, 2013 at 5:21pm Reply

                • Victoria: My reputation as a weird foreigner will be sealed forever! August 13, 2013 at 5:46pm Reply

                  • Andy: 🙂 August 13, 2013 at 10:38pm Reply

              • Andy: Oh, I know! I’m not sure what it means in regard to my sanity that I’d probably consider actually going to the car wash to do this (in part just for the entertainment value, I would love to see the reactions!). When I watched the video, I was laughing so hard–I definitely wasn’t expecting that ending! August 13, 2013 at 10:38pm Reply

                • Victoria: Being passionate and determined is a good thing. 🙂 August 14, 2013 at 11:41am Reply

                  • Andy: Thank you! When you put it in those terms I don’t feel odd at all…but rather, very intent upon having properly cured cookware! 🙂 August 14, 2013 at 11:29pm Reply

                • Austenfan: If you didn’t live on the other side of the ocean I would join you. I think the lady in the video is great. She obviously cares more about preparing her mortar and pestle adequately than she does about what the neighbours might say. Which isn’t a bad attitude. August 14, 2013 at 5:14pm Reply

                  • Andy: Aww thanks. I think I will go tomorrow and get the molcajete, and directly afterwards head to the car wash to do just as the lady does in the video. I wish I could say it was with purely cookware-oriented intentions that I’ve decided this, but, rather, my crazy sense of fun has urged me instead. It would give me the biggest kick to go and hose down my mortar and pestle! Plus, rather than caring what others think, I’ll find entertainment in seeing if anyone notices I’m not washing the car! August 14, 2013 at 11:40pm Reply

                    • Victoria: Please let us know how effective (and fun) of a project it was! 🙂
                      If I lived closer, I would go with you too. August 16, 2013 at 5:47am

                    • Austenfan: We need to get V. to give us some recipes involving the use of high pressure hoses and other extraneous utensils! August 23, 2013 at 3:58am

                    • Victoria: Don’t provoke me! 🙂 August 23, 2013 at 9:58am

                  • Andy: So, I ended up getting the molcajete, and DID take it to the car wash! It was incredibly fun, and a good way to release a bit of pent-up stress too. As it would turn out, the high-pressure hose was also very effective at dislodging grit from the stone, and it only took a few minutes. When I got home, I ground rice in it too, as Victoria suggests, but it was hardly necessary because there was very little remaining grit at all. Since then, I’ve made a basil pesto, some salsas, and guacamole, all of which have been really delicious! August 22, 2013 at 10:24am Reply

                    • Austenfan: Glad to see that it worked out so well. When I get mine I will do the same. We do need these outlets every now and again don’t we? August 22, 2013 at 12:02pm

                    • Andy: I would respond to your comment below, but, alas, the system doesn’t let the comment bars get quite that thin. Yes, I think that is one of the reasons I love cooking in general (especially if it involves high-pressure hoses!)–the chopping, stirring, grinding, etc. really help to release any tension. August 22, 2013 at 12:14pm

  • Annikky: These sound lovely, thank you for sharing – I do suffer from a mild case of soap obsession. Incidentally, there was a huge stand with Marseille soaps at the Bouillon Medieval Festival yesterday: probably not quite the same quality as Fabre, but I smelled several and the scent was nice and strong. With an enormous display of willpower, I refrained from buying any, as I just stocked up on Claus Porto soaps. Actually, I was most tempted by a soap made from donkey’s milk 🙂

    Are Fabre soaps sold anywhere in Brussels? August 12, 2013 at 7:33am Reply

    • Austenfan: I am sure that Victoria will be able to answer that question much better than I can. But I remember that in Holland Dille & Kamille carries some of the line. They have a shop in Brussels, so it might be worth trying.
      http://www.dille-kamille.nl/nl/content/87/brussel August 12, 2013 at 7:55am Reply

      • Victoria: Dille & Kamille is definitely worth trying. They have a great selection of household items and cookware, and their cookbook section is very tempting. August 12, 2013 at 8:11am Reply

    • Victoria: I wouldn’t be able to resist a soap made from donkey’s milk! 🙂

      I still like L’Occitane soaps, especially their honey and milk bars shaped like honeycomb. Many of their products are still very good, although with the price increases, the price-quality ratio is no longer as favorable. And like Austenfan mentioned, the practice of discontinuing their products is frustrating. It feels that every single time I enter into the shop, the selection is completely different. August 12, 2013 at 8:15am Reply

      • Annikky: I agree. I think it was Robin on NST who observed that everything in that shop seems to cost slightly more then you thought it would. And this was before the recent price increases. I now mostly go when they have a sale. August 12, 2013 at 8:49am Reply

        • Austenfan: As I do myself. It must be my protestant roots.
          I actually wait till Antwerp is on it’s second round of sales, towards the end of July. That way you get an even better bargain. I’ve just never considered their fragrances worth the money. I was considering getting a bottle of their body lotion of their new Vanille & Narcisse but found a wonderful tin of Bouquet de Dattes body cream at half the original price. I just got that instead. August 12, 2013 at 9:41am Reply

  • Aisha: It’s funny that you should do a post about soaps because I’ve been a little obsessed with artisanal (or artisanal-like) soaps lately. I’m usually a bath & shower gel girl, but about two months ago I happened upon a selection of Yardley of London soaps in our dollar store. Each one (English Lavender, Cocoa Butter, Oatmeal & Almond) took me back to my days as a young girl. I used to think those soaps were so sophisticated. 🙂 Anyway, I had to snatch them up because of the memories they sparked. I just wish their scent lasted just a little longer on my skin. But I love them nonetheless.

    There’s also a woman here in our small town who used to hand make a variety of soaps and sell them at craft shows. She had a Christmas spice one that I used to store, unopened, in our dresser drawers to scent its contents. It’s been many years since I last purchased something from her. Your post has inspired me to seek her out again — and to seek out Marius Fabré soaps in case she’s no longer in business. August 12, 2013 at 8:16am Reply

    • Victoria: This is such a nice story, Aisha. I can relate to this, because whenever I smell Ivory or Caress soaps, it’s such a nostalgic scent for me. The classical Irish Spring soap is another favorite.

      Some people make soaps at home, and it’s certainly not all that tricky, but the idea of using lye outside of a lab is disconcerting, so I leave the soap making to artisans. Hope that the lady you’re talking about is still in business. August 12, 2013 at 8:25am Reply

      • Aisha: I wouldn’t want to use lye at home either, LOL! I think most of hers were made with glycerin blocks. I’ve never tried making my own soap (although, I have been curious), so I’m not sure what ingredients go in to soaps. August 12, 2013 at 8:31am Reply

        • Victoria: I confess that I really want to make pretzels at home, but dipping them into a solution of lye makes me pause. On the other hand, special lye pellets are sold at pharmacies in Germany for making pretzels, so I suppose that other bakers are more courageous than I am.

          As for soap, it’s really not that complicated. The most basic recipe calls for water, oil and lye. I’ve made it at a lab a few times, and it was fairly simple. But more often than not at the perfumery school we received the ready made soap powder (unscented), which we mixed with our choice of perfume in a blender. And then we used a special machine to stamp the soap out. It was really a lot of fun to make. 🙂 August 12, 2013 at 8:40am Reply

          • Aisha: It does sound like fun. I should get some supplies and try my hand at soap-making one day. Probably on a day when we’re snowed in. Our winters here in the Midwest U.S. usually start early — and they like to stay well in to spring. August 12, 2013 at 12:13pm Reply

            • Victoria: If you do try it at home, please let us know how it goes! I know that there is another person who comments here and she makes soaps at home. Just think of the possibilities of scenting your own creations. 🙂 I would absolutely love a soap scented with jasmine and sandalwood. If only I could cross Marius Fabre’s Jasmin and Santal. August 12, 2013 at 3:23pm Reply

              • Aisha: Will definitely report back if I take it up as a hobby. 🙂 August 12, 2013 at 6:45pm Reply

  • Caroline: Just curious…do you happen to know what the Green Clay bar smells of? August 12, 2013 at 9:08am Reply

    • Victoria: It smells aldehydic and rose-like, with a green, earthy note. A bit retro, but very pleasant. I haven’t used it in the shower yet, but it smells wonderful through its wrapping. August 12, 2013 at 9:16am Reply

  • Nancy A.: I, too enjoy artisal soaps and gravitate to those created by old soapmakers in Europe. I’ve never experienced Fabre soaps but I have my wish list with Senteurs de Provence. They truly capture the authenticity of their fragrances. My favorite is Marche de Provence, which I believe is their bestseller. As you take in the fragrance it contains citrus, then an herbal green. All soaps contain a shea butter hydration. Their Marine scent holds a bit of salt without being noxious, the Mandarine is heavenly and second to that since this recent discovery is Mistral’s Agrumes, which is citrus that I can sniff to my hearts content without tiring! I’ve only seen Senteurs in bath size at retail of $7.50. Mistral runs a little higher. But what I liked based on your visuals is the size and shape of the bar. Fabre’s green bar sounds amazing! Victoria, take that tour of the soap factory and give us some fun feedback while I check out the website. August 12, 2013 at 10:29am Reply

    • Victoria: I would love to do that! It sounds exactly like the kind of geeky thing I would like to do–a tour of the soapmaking factory. 🙂

      I don’t know the other brands you mentioned, but they’re now on my list as well. When I worked in Grasse, I was amazed how many small interesting brands one could find there. I’ve never seen them outside of Provence though. Thankfully, Fabre is easier to find. August 12, 2013 at 11:47am Reply

  • Esme: I have been ordering olive oil soaps from Marius Fabre for a year and I love them. They last a long time and do not dry out your skin. Fabre also has lovely bath gels and household cleaning products I highly recommend. August 12, 2013 at 11:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I will try some other products too. Thank you, Esme. I also love that my skin, which hates the hard water in Belgium, stays silky soft whenever I use olive oil based soaps. August 12, 2013 at 11:48am Reply

  • Erin T: Wanted to mention, V, that I finally found a place to buy the Belgian Egg White soaps you have mentioned a few times, and I love them. The fragrance is very gentle, which is fine for somebody who is going to wear perfume anyway. The best thing I like about them is the luxuriousness of the lather – so creamy soft and pleasant to shower with! August 12, 2013 at 11:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Aren’t they fantastic! I also love the shape. Using these kind of high-quality (but still reasonably priced) products is really the necessary indulgence.
      Do you mind sharing where you found the soaps? Perhaps, it might be helpful to the soap lovers on the other side of the Atlantic. August 12, 2013 at 12:07pm Reply

      • Erin T: Sure! I got mine at Merz Apothecary in Chicago – I went to the store, but they seem to have good website ordering for those not in Illinois. August 12, 2013 at 12:13pm Reply

        • Aisha: Found their website. This could be very dangerous for my pocketbook. Thank you for sharing the info, though. 🙂 August 12, 2013 at 12:16pm Reply

        • Victoria: Merz Apothecary is one of my favorite stores in Chicago! Thank you so much for sharing, Erin. August 12, 2013 at 3:24pm Reply

  • Patricia: These soaps sound delicious and will make lovely bring-home gifts for myself and others when I am in Marseilles next month. Santal, Jazmin, and Coriandre go right on the list! August 12, 2013 at 12:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: Lucky you, Pat! I can’t wait to hear what you think of Marseilles. I’ve never been there, but it’s on the list of places I want to visit (an ever expanding list, I should say). August 12, 2013 at 3:25pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Thank you for the mention of that shop in de Staalstraat! It’s on my way to the Puccini bonbons, but I never went in there. Now I will certainly try that soap. I love good soaps, but I cannot find them easily in Amsterdam. For Morny soap, I have to go to Den Haag; all the old fashioned ”drogisten” who carried luxury soap are gone.
    My daily soaps are not bad either: Maja and my favorite Très Chic by Vinolia!
    L’Occitane is in Amsterdam, but I like my expensive soap to be English. Nevertheless I will go for that Fabre! August 12, 2013 at 1:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: What are Puccini bonbons?

      Maja soaps are excellent. The original scent was formulated by none other than Jean Carles, the perfumer responsible for some of the perfume legends like Miss Dior, Shocking, Tabu and Ma Griffe. August 12, 2013 at 3:28pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Puccini is a shop in the Staalstraat, in the direction of the Operahouse. They sell chocolate, homemade; their bonbons (pralines) are delicious, with ginger, pistacchio, pepper, cognac, orangepeels, calvados, etc.etc. Just don’t buy their mango peels in chocolate: you could break your theet. August 12, 2013 at 3:59pm Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: sorry, teeth! August 12, 2013 at 4:01pm Reply

        • Victoria: The idea of pralines scented with ginger is making me salivate. I will definitely have to check Puccini out the next time I’m in Amsterdam. August 13, 2013 at 4:52am Reply

  • Ruth: These sound wonderful, and even usable by someone like me who avoids soap. I’m particularly captivated by the idea of the sandalwood, probably because we’re having such a long, warm, dry, summer. Warm weather and sandalwood are forever linked for me since an experience I had years ago. A friend took me to a talk of meeting a very old gurini. The room was crowded and the evening was warm. Her energy was so peaceful, and the space was as well (it was a Friends’ meeting room). At the end everyone lined up to greet her, and she hugged every one of us. She, her sari, and her embrace were all scented with sandalwood. Just thinking of it makes me feel relaxed. August 12, 2013 at 2:01pm Reply

    • Ruth: hmm, that should say ‘a talk’ not ‘a talk of a meeting’. August 12, 2013 at 2:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can just envision it as you’ve described–the scent of sandalwood lingering on warm silk… There is a very good Indian soap called Mysore Sandalwood Soap (it purportedly contains sandalwood oil), and it’s my other favorite. It’s inexpensive (a case of 18 2oz soaps set me back about $25), but it smells heavenly. One of our aunts who lives in India stores her saris with this soap, and her clothes have this delicious, scalded milk and dry roses scent. If you have an Indian grocery store in your area, it’s worth checking if they carry it. August 12, 2013 at 3:32pm Reply

      • Ruth: Thank you for the tip, Victoria! August 12, 2013 at 3:51pm Reply

        • Victoria: You’re most welcome! I love the smell of sandalwood. August 13, 2013 at 4:46am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Thanks for the another great post, Victoria and I hope that you had a nice holiday. I still prefer to use soaps to liquid handwashes although my friends think it’s kind of old fashioned. I haven’t tried that many ‘high-end soaps’ but the best soaps I’ve used so far were the ones I bought at a market in Aix-en-Provence. They looked nice, smelled wonderful and stayed hard until the end which is very important for me. I wish I could have stocked up more. August 12, 2013 at 3:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t like liquid handwashes, except in the kitchen, and soaps are the best affordable luxury. Plus, it’s fun to keep a basket filled with soaps in the bathroom. I don’t use many high end soaps, since in many cases I can’t justify the expense. Marius Fabre or Roger & Gallet strike a good balance for me.

      I’m with you; if a soap dissolves into a sticky mess after a few days, I never repurchase it. August 13, 2013 at 4:51am Reply

  • Lavanya: Thanks for the rec, V. I love artisanal/hand made soaps. I usually use cold processed soaps- are these that kind? I have a couple of small one woman companies that I buy from and my skin can immediately tell the difference when I use a regular body wash.
    These sound fabulous. I want to try the santal one- I can’t seem to find it on amazon..*off to search* August 12, 2013 at 5:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m not sure that all of them are. Their Black soap is cold processed, but others may not be.

      It’s a great idea to support someone local. When we lived in the US, I would buy goat milk soaps from a stand at the farmer’s market. They were not expensive, but the quality was fantastic. August 13, 2013 at 5:02am Reply

  • Annunziata: The words ‘a pile of Mysore sandalwood shavings’ left me helplessly enthralled — the others sound beautiful, too. I am also off to search for them. Thanks for the wonderful post. August 12, 2013 at 8:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was happy to share! I realized when I sampled them for the first time is that I’ve seen these soaps at various pharmacies in NYC (maybe, New London Pharmacy). I wish I knew how good Santal would turn out, because I would have bought more. It’s one of the few Marius Fabre scents I can’t find in Brussels that easily. August 13, 2013 at 5:05am Reply

  • Andy: These soaps sound fantastic! The sandalwood and coriander soaps sound like they would be especially appealing. This past winter I really fell in love with some of the Compagnie de Provence soaps, especially the Fleur d’Oranger variety. August 13, 2013 at 11:35am Reply

    • Victoria: I love Compagnie de Provence’s Fleur d’Oranger soap too. It really reminds me of the South of France and Sicily, where the orange blossom is such an important part of the scented landscape. August 13, 2013 at 12:27pm Reply

  • Belle: Soap! Glorious soap! As you can read, yes, I’m sort of a soap fanatic. I honestly really dislike shower gels, especially since they take longer for me to use. The soap of my home is Dove beauty bar soap, which is nicely moisturizing. But right now, I’m using local soap, but this one isn’t quite as nice. But I’ll keep looking for a nice local one! For the sake of our poor economy…

    By the way Victoria, what’s the soap with the longest lasting scent you’ve heard or used? I’d love to have a nice lingering scent on me, especially if I’m not wearing perfume… August 14, 2013 at 6:20am Reply

    • Victoria: I prefer to avoid using plastic if I can help it, so soap fits that well. And I like the sensation of holding the creamy soap bar in my hand and lathering it on a wash cloth.

      The strongest scented soaps for me must Ivory, Irish Spring, Dove. After using them, my skin is scented for quite a while. Unfortunately, Ivory dries out my skin too much, so I no longer use it, but I love the scent. I don’t remember if Bath & Body Works has soap, but I had samples of their shower gels and they were strongly perfumed too. But in general, since you’re rinsing the product off your skin, soap will never quite replace perfume if you want to be scented for hours. August 14, 2013 at 11:46am Reply

  • carole: I love soap! It’s an affordable luxury. This dates back to when i was a child-we shopped at a really granola-type health foods store. The one luxurious thing they sold was green apple soap. It smelled so good!
    This summer I have been using nesti Dante soaps. I have one that smells of almonds and rice flour and geraniums, and one that smells of frozen basil, lemoneand mandarine zest. Why frozen basil, i have no idea, but it’s a beautiful orange-blossom-y scent. And each bar is stamped with the words’made with love and care’ which is a touching idea. August 14, 2013 at 3:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve never seen these soaps before, but your descriptions are so tempting! I’m especially curious about the frozen basil scented soap. August 14, 2013 at 3:49pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I found Het Hanze Huis today, and bought the liquid Santal. It smelled divinely in the tester, but I must say the bottle I bought is disappointing: the smell is rather faint. On the other hand, it leaves the skin very soft.
    When the stock is sold out, they don’t sell the Fabre soaps anymore. They only had a few bars left. October 5, 2013 at 11:29am Reply

    • Victoria: The bar is definitely more strongly scented than the liquid soap. Too bad the shop didn’t have it in stock. October 5, 2013 at 11:59am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: The strange thing is, that the tester liquid soap had a much stronger smell than the bottle I bought. October 5, 2013 at 1:03pm Reply

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