Since as early as the ninth century, master soap makers in Marseille have created exquisite, gentle soaps using native olive oils and the alkaline ash from marine plants of the Mediterranean.
However, it wasn’t until 1688 and an edict under the mercantilist policies of Jean-Baptiste Colbert that these fine soaps — containing 72% vegetable oils with no animal additives — came to be known as “Savon de Marseille” (Marseille Soap). Marseille Soap’s popularity continued through the 1700s. In the 1880s the number of soap works in the region peaked at nearly one hundred.
Now less than five soap makers still craft Marseille Soap according to the centuries-old tradition. But the legendary soap, which was once such a basic necessity for so many generations, is being rediscovered for the natural luxury and delicate care it provides.