Compagnie de Provence has been offering contemporary interpretations of traditional Provençal soaps and toiletries since 1990. To mark its twentieth anniversary, the company has released a limited edition of its popular Savon de Marseille, a liquid hand soap packaged in a hefty glass bottle. For this occasion, the company commissioned artist Stephan Muntaner to create bottle designs based on the culture and legends of Marseille. The result is a set of three images that look like very colorful sailors' tattoos, with each design named for a fish that would be caught in the city's ancient port.
All three silkscreened images are vibrant and playful, even as they refer to Marseille's oldest customs. La Maquereau (mackerel) celebrates sailors' life on the docks; La Girelle (rainbow wrasse) refers to Marseille's cathedral Notre Dame de la Garde and its gilded statue of the Virgin Mary, the city's protectress; and La Sardine (sardine) is a colorful interpretation of a day's catch and the port marketplace where the fish are sold. The hand soap's scent is described as "a fresh marine fragrance that surprises with a very subtle salty note," and that sums it up well. It's simple and fresh and gender-neutral. There's a hint of bergamot and lemon, and an ambery note, but the main point of the fragrance is a salty sea-breeze effect that lingers on your hands for a short while after you've washed them. It would please anyone who wears and enjoys Mediterranean-marine perfumes such as L'Occitane Calanques or i Profumi di Firenze Brezza di Mare.
Compagnie de Provence has perfected the formula of its Savon de Marseille: this liquid soap gets the job done, but it's gentle. It cleans thoroughly without stripping the skin dry or leaving any residue, and the anniversary bottle design makes it even more appealing to use and reuse. This soap would be a clever gift for someone who loves the seaside, or admires tattoo-inspired art, or just appreciates good quality toiletries.
La Compagnie de Provence 20th Anniversary Savon de Marseille liquid hand soap sells for $30 for 16.9 oz at Orange and Pear and the Compagnie de Provence website.
Note: bottom image is Tools of the Trade by papalars at flickr; some rights reserved.
Those bottles are lovely, and the soap sounds nice, but just can’t see myself spending $30 for hand soap!
It’s definitely not a “cheap thrill”… but it would make a lovely gift!
I live in Marseille. Maquereau is also a slang word for pimp by the way.
These soaps look cute, but I have never heard of this company.
oh, that’s just too funny! And I’m sure they must have known that ….I will stop myself from making any further comments about that….
Anyhow, $30 for 16.9oz isn’t a horrible price, the bottles are cool, the soap sounds nice…..except for the marine note, I don’t care for marine notes, but I guess the marine note is an important aspect of these. The bottles are still cute.
Actually, I doubt they had that in mind. The word ‘maquereau’ (which, by the way, is masculine so it’s Le Maquereau) is very vulgar. Not the right image for that company at all.
Yes, the salt-and-sea scent is the thing here… but they do make soap in many other fragrances! There’s a good ylang-ylang, I think, and some fruity scents that are nicely done.
The products are on sale quite widely in London. The head office of the company seems to be in Marseille. Strange you haven’t come across their stuff. I really like their liquid soap, but it’s not as cheap as it should be.
Their products do show up regularly in gift shops and upscale pharmacies in NYC, which is my main shopping beat… although the company’s actual name isn’t always on the front of the bottle, so I don’t even think I knew whose products they were; just, “oh, yes, those bottles with the big block lettering!”
Marseille sounds like such an interesting place! I don’t know much French slang…
me either—I could be walking about smiling and waving to everyone and they could be saying the worst things….I’d be completely oblivious. But that would probably be for the best.
These sound great! I love marine scents, and the look of those bottles. I wish they had a “marine” bar soap – didn’t see one on the website.
H, That *would* be nice! I’ve really grown to like good-quality beachy scents for body products.
Had a chance to 1) visit Marseille over the summer and 2) go to one of Compagnie de Provence’s store (which I actually think was in Nice).
Down by the marina area in Marseille, my friend and I witnessed a purse snatch by two teenagers; one grabbed her handbag and the other pushed the poor woman off the dock and into the water. Lovely, eh? As someone born and raised in NYC, even I was a little appalled.
One another note, the Compagnie de Provence store we visited was charming – great packaging, laid back service, and the scents (grapefruit, fig, ylang) are nice without being overwhelming. To test out the soaps and shower gels, the store has a sink which actually looks like a long white table (in that it is totally flat across the top), and when you wave your hand over the center of the ‘table’, jets of water shoot up about 4-6 inches allowing you to lather and rinse. I ended up bringing back souvenirs for quite a few of my friends.
That *does* sound like a nice shopping experience! I didn’t even know the company had its own boutiques (none in the USA, I guess). Thanks!