Body, face and home products from the brand l’Occitane are sold worldwide but do you know the story of such a famous company respectful of the traditions of its native Provence?
The story of l’Occitane
The whole story began with Olivier Baussan, 23 years old, who had a still, a small van and a good knowledge of plants. First, he used to distil the essential oil of rosemary and to sell it on the local markets of Provence: l’Occitane was being created. By the way, do you know what the company’s name mean? Occitan is a language spoken in the South of France and an Occitane is a woman from this area named Occitanie speaking this language.
In 1976, Olivier Baussan purchased an old soap factory and brought back the making of Marseilles’ soaps. One year later, the small company bought its first lavender harvest, lavender being one of the emblems of Provence with olive trees.
Afterwards, Olivier Baussan enlarged his range of products using different plants such as shea butter from Burkina Faso since 1980, verbena since 1999 and everlasting flower since 2002 among many others. The plants coming from Provence are peony, angelica, verbena, lavender, cade oil, cherry tree flower, almond, rose and mint. Myrtle and everlasting flower come from Corsica.
L’Occitane sells a wide range of beauty products: body lotion, toilet water, after shave balm, face and body cream, shower oil, bubble bath, shampoo… In 2010, a new range of products using sea-buckthorn, wormwood, mint and spring water called Verdon was created for men in reference to the Verdon river flowing in Northern Provence. This river is located in an uncontaminated and protected valley gathering 2200 plant species. The name of this range of products reminds us of the liveliness of white water sports.
Today, you can find L’Occitane shops in many countries and airports: the first shop in Paris opened in 1992 followed by new shops in New-York and Hong-Kong in 1996 and in Japan in 1997. Last but not least, an online shop was created in 2011 and consequently l’Occitane is everywhere on the globe nowadays.
If you wish to know more about l’Occitane you can visit the factory located in Manosque, the only one in the world. There, not only will you be able to learn more about the making of the products but you will also discover the environnmental involvement of the company. Furthermore, its foundation sets up humanitarian projects against blindness and for the economic emancipation of women.
A book entitled The essence of Provence, The story of l’Occitane, written by Pierre Magnan, a famous writer from Provence who was born in Manosque, can help you go further into the story of the company crossing borders.