A few months ago we traveled to Marseille, France. We were there for the day, exploring the city on one of our stops with Princess Cruises! You can see more of our day here! I had to be selective on what I wanted to see, and being the Home Economics junkie that I am (it was my college major, ha!), I knew a visit to the famous soap store in Marseille, called Savon de Marseille, was a must! There’s something so charming about those rustic, embossed blocks of soaps that made me want to learn more and seek out their store. You’ve probably seen the classic soaps from Savon de Marseille around as they’ve expanded their products greatly and are available to buy in the USA and online. I was interested in the tradition of how they started making the soap in the middle ages and the techniques they used. The first documented soap maker in Marseille was in 1307!
The soap was traditionally made using water from the Mediterranean Sea, olive oil and alkaline chemicals. The original green and white soaps are sold in the store and are made from olive oil and palm oil, with no added fragrance, additives or animal fats. It takes about two weeks to craft the soap and up to a month for it to be shop ready. I carried home a green soap that I use for my hands, which literally makes them squeaky clean and a white laundry bar soap for stains. I also brought some back as gifts! These days, you have to look carefully if you want to buy the traditional soap online as there are so many knock-offs! I found this supplier, which seems pretty good.
If you’re interested in crafting your own modern bar of Savon de Marseille for fun, all you really need is an olive oil soap base, French green clay, and a square soap mold… these are kind of fun too, although not shaped like a block. And then just follow this simple Martha Stewart tutorial. It’s pretty basic, but soap making is always fun. Also, remember you don’t have to add fragrance, the original soap doesn’t have any and I kind of like it like that, but of course it’s personal preference. Be inspired and stay charming!