A few treats this week, to celebrate a pause in work on the manuscript. As I type this, my study smells deliciously of lemony verbena - verveine - from the handmade soap I bought from a stall at Apt market a few Saturdays ago. The scent burst into the air, redolent of freshness and lime, as soon as the clear film was peeled away.
This is a Frutadou, a clear soap that incorporates a slice of loofah, to "energize, activate the circulation and exfoliate", pictured above, and the verveine below. And I have to say, that although the soap is very soft, almost like hard jelly, the effect is gratifyingly tingly - though, for me, it's the fragrance that has the main energizing effect, every time.
What is so lovely about this kind of soap and associated products - these are by Savons du Sud - is the sheer exuberance of the scents and the fact that most of them are organic, made only of natural ingredients, many grown in the region.
Plants, fruits and herbs are combined using aromatherapy principles to promote well-being, and support specific issues such as heart health, relaxation and even the relief of headaches. There are soaps made of reviving tonics and gentle moisturisers. How can anyone resist these colours and pretty designs, either?
According to the leaflet that came with my purchase, Savons du Sud has a stall at Forcalquier market on Mondays and Lourmarin market on Fridays, as well as Apt on Saturday morning. If you happen to be there, it's well worth finding. If not, there is a website and online shop to look around.
And while the scent of any of the soaps will bring Provence to you, wherever you happen to be, this one is specially designed to keep us coming back: Night in Provence - to combat gloom (moroseness)? Cool and relaxing, with olive and lavender oil...