Savon de Marseille: ancestral know-how

Savon de Marseille: ancestral know-how

Savon de Marseille: Living Heritage, preserved ancestral know-how

Our supplier labeled Living Heritage Company

On the occasion of Heritage Days September 17 and 18, we wanted to talk to you about the soap factory that makes our genuine Marseille soaps.

This is the Fer à Cheval soap factory, which has obtained the prestigious Label Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (EPV), an official French label which distinguishes companies working to preserve excellent craftsmanship and industrial know-how. 

t is the oldest Marseille soap factory still in activity and after more than 160 years of existence, it continues to transmit its ancestral know-how from generation to generation.

What is the EPV label?

This EPV label is a mark of recognition by the State set up to distinguish French companies with artisanal and industrial know-how of excellence.

 Issued by the State after rigorous investigation, this label aims to reward companies that are emblematic of French industrial or artisanal excellence.

A rare know-how, transmitted from generation to generation, in Marseille

The Fer à Cheval soap factory, which manufactures our real Marseille soaps, has been distinguished thanks to its rare know-how, based on the mastery of traditional techniques and its attachment to the city of Marseille.

Moreover, this know-how is held by a small number of companies and is not provided through the normal training channels. Indeed, the manufacture of Marseille soap paste is only possible thanks to their master soap makers, Michel, master soap maker for more than 30 years, who has now been training Stéphane (himself the son of a master soap maker) for 4 years. You should know that the training of a master soap maker lasts approximately 5 years.

The criteria for the Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant label are also based on the age of their historic premises, which have been located since 1856, in the same place in Marseille.

Portrait: Michel, master soap maker for over 30 years

"The manufacturing secret, which in reality is not a secret but a know-how, is like for mushroom wedges... the old ones, they don't give them away like that. You have to be cunning,” explains Michel Bianconi.

The master soap maker left school at 14 and fell into the cauldron at 17, following the same path as his father, employed at the time by the Le Chat company. This living heritage also raises the question of transmission when approaching retirement. “It is not possible to be a master soap maker without at least 4 years of learning and passion. Saponification is simple: salt water, soda and oil… and for the rest, a hell of a lot of know-how”, explains Michel.

All the know-how of the soap factory rests on the shoulders of these master soap makers who pass on their manufacturing secrets from generation to generation.

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