La Savonnerie du Zebre

When People used to wash Once a week, Savon De Marseilles was perfect.  It had a high pH and it sloughed off the dead skin beautifully.  Now people wash 2-3 times a day and our skin needs good tender low-pH soap that Biodegrades.

– Charles Chesneau, owner of La Savonnierie du Zebre, paraphrased

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This was part of a discussion we entered into at the Savonnerie du Zebre http://www.la-savonnerie-du-zebre in France, near the Azay-le-Rideau chateaux in the Loire Valley.  We were visiting the amazing castle, a fine example of Italian-inspired French Renaissance architecture.  Leonardo Da Vinci, who set up at nearby Amboise had a little something to do with this.  We were about to leave for the famed Amboise to see the Maestro’s home itself, when I espied a soap store by the parking lot.

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 I remembered that our B and B didn’t have proper soap but only a liquid gel (which I don’t like).  I knew that I had many reasons for not liking the average liquid soap.  I was reminded by this ingredient list below.  Below is a list of ingredients in the average liquid soap.  Better if you can read French.  If you can’t, don’t worry I won’t translate it for you.  The take home message is that the average liquid soap is water and dubious synthetic chemicals that  soften your skin and mostly do not biodegrade.

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What a great topic to blog about!  I have an excellent post in the works about eco-friendly cleaning products.  And I won’t go deep into the scawy ingredients in liquid soap but rather will highlight what Charles is doing with his Little Soap Factory.  In for such a treat and informative discussion, we stayed in the shop for over an hour and left Amboise and Leonardo da Vinci for another trip.  Leonardo changed the world in myriad ways.  But Charles is doing it one little hand-made bar of soap at a time.

Charles hand-makes and stamps each soap.  The soaps are made with fair-trade and organic shea butter, third-party certified by EcoCert. The soap itself comes out of what looks like a pasta machine in an oblong shape which is then cut with this cutter below.

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Unlike liquid soaps which are generally water and detergents that do not biodegrade, Charles was proud to pronounce that his soaps are 97% biodegrable.  He has rainbows of colours, and many dozens of different flavors, from Mango to Musk.

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The Savonnerie de Zebre’s perfumes are made in Grasse, France the world’s most notable perfume region.  The dyes are natural.  Charles then stamps each soap himself with a wooden stamp.  I wish I could show you the handsomeness of the maker himself.  He has thick, long brown hair (which he ties up) and deep penetrating eyes.  I wanted to photograph Charles’ but he said, “Only the hands”.  When we first entered his shop, I asked his permission to take photos and he agreed.  Later I saw the “Do Not Take photos” symbol displayed copiously around the shop.

So Charles was quite generous.  But after leaving, I metaphorically stung my eyes with savon de Marseilles.  As a soap maker, le beau Charles didn’t want to be photographed.  But as a subject for the Style-Diet Shot, he might be been persuaded….

Okay. Next trip to France: Leonardo, Amboise and Charles.

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