Marseille is the home of SOAP! Marseille is known for making a number of high quality olive-oil soaps. While we were there, we went visited the Licorne Soap Factory to see how the soap was made.
Firstly, the unscented soap is warmed and then rolled out thinly to create flakes which can be mixed with scented oils and colourings to create a unique soap ‘flavour’.
While we were there the ‘parfum du jour’was green tea… and although the photos don’t show it, the scent was almost overpowering. ‘This is one of our subtler scents,’ said the young man who was leading the demonstration. ‘But you may start to feel heady or find it hard to breathe. Please leave at anytime if you start to feel uncomfortable.’
My nose was already stinging with the scent, and I sneezed several times to clear my head of the soap powder that floated through the air and covered every flat surface of the factory. I wanted to stay and see how things were done.
The fine flakes of soap were condensed into a long cylinder, pressed into shape by a machine. This was then cut by hand into small portions of a certain length. The pieces were placed in a machine which clamped above and below to mould an oval, stamped with the Licorne motif and the flavour Thé vert ‘Green tea’. The discarded excess was placed in a bucket and eventually returned to be repressed and reused.
Some soaps where pressed using a square mould, as you can see on the right above. After watching the demonstration, we raced outside for a breath of fresh air… and then I bought myself a tiny green tea soap, to remember the smell of this place and to do what soap does best- to wash- something I needed after a long day’s sightseeing.