Only in Provence … walking trails lined with wild flowers and herbs of rosemary, thyme, helichrysum, clary sage, the last of the Spring poppies, geranium, wild daffodil and the sweet honeysuckle smelling yellow broom just to name a few. Wildflowers and herbs flourish all year round in Provence. Summer is idyllic as it delivers fields of gorgeous yellow sunflowers and lavish fields of lavender. Scent fills the air and for me, fills my soul too!
It is understandable how the visual and sensory delights of beautiful flowers and herbs set amidst dreamy village scenes have inspired so many artists, poets, writers, perfumers, chefs, aromatherapists and creatives of all disciplines to create from the heart.
For the month of July I was fortunate to spend a second summer in a row in the exquisite village of La Roque Alric in the Vaucluse region of Provence. I accepted an invitation to visit one of the largest distilleries in Provence, Distillerie Duffez. We arrived in the peak Lavender harvesting period with large rectangular containers of both Lavender and Lavendin being delivered by trucks on a continuous rotation. This particularly distillery has been in the family for 3 generations, they offer eco friendly and sustainable production as well as facilities for organic distilling of locally grown plants. I was surprised to learn that in the local Drome Provence area, harvesting is not limited to the summer months and includes a wide range of eco farmed Clary Sage, Juniper Berry, Helichrysum, Cypress, Thyme, Rosemary, Peppermint and White Fir. They also produce high quality floral waters (the fragrance left in the water after the distillation process). I have been enjoying experimenting with floral waters as a base for potential new mist blends.
In complete contrast I met a fabulous women from Gap, in the north of Provence at a local market in the village of Caromb. She described her Lavender, Helichrysum, Rosemary and Thyme farm as a ‘non pretentious distillerie’. I later learned that she harvests her crops by hand using a traditional serpette and uses traditional methods of steam distillation to create sufficient quantities of essential oils and flower waters to support her skincare and wellness range. This is incredibly impressive given the temperature this year at the time of harvest reached 37-39 degrees each day!
I return inspired to evolve some of the current blends in the Combardis range and to create new supportive blends in alignment with feelings of expansion and possibility!
The French get it right with their saying ‘Joie de Vivre’. To look at life as something that is to be taken with great pleasure and enjoy it. -Mirielle Guiliano