With the thought of that Marseille traditional soaps have been made for about 600 years, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of those really wonderful vintage soap posters I found in a French medieval village.

Vintage Savon Rationnel Poster, Provence, France, Copyright

The traditional Marseille soap is made from vegetable oils and it grew so popular that it in 1913 the production had reached 180,000 tons (!) and already in 1924 there were 132 soapmaking companies in the Marseille and Salon areas.

Vintage Savon Naturel Poster, Provence, France, Copyright

Traditionally, the soap is made by mixing sea water from the Mediterranean Sea, olive oil, and the alkaline chemicals soda ash (sodium carbonate) and lye (sodium hydroxide) together in a large cauldron (usually making about 8 tons). This mixture is then heated for several days, stirred constantly.

The mixture is then allowed to sit, and once ready, it is poured into the mould, and allowed to set slightly. Whilst still soft, it is cut into bars and stamped, and left to completely harden. The whole process can take up to a month from the start before the soap is ready to use.

Source: Wikipedia

You can read more about the traditional Marseille soap history at Marseille Tourisme.

Today there are only a few remaining soap factories around Marseille and some soaps has palm oil instead of olive oil, but still very nice soaps so it’s no surprise that this is one of the things the many tourists are buying there.

I would find it very interesting to take a traditionally Marseille made soap and a modern one from our stores to a lab to be able to really compare the content…

Lifecruiser Vintage Marseille Posters

Earlier posts in this serie:

French beach leach
Bloggers toast in France
Bloggers finally meet in France after three years of blogging
French blogger host lost
Start Fart of France Trip
Marseille Air Lair Stare
Pastis in Provence Southern France
Photographer beholder but not older
Connect Hotel Skavsta Airport

11 Comments on “Vintage Marseille Soap Posters”

    Chris said:

    I think the Marseille Soap colours are green and beige, depending on whether they are based on olive oil (green soap) or palm oil (beige soap).
    It would be very interesting to compare the old “recipe” with the new one.


    Yes @Chris and what I could understand, the Italians were (or still are?) a big user of the French soaps :-)

    Chris said:

    You are totally right, in Italy Marsille soap is also used to hand wash delicate clothes!!

    Spence said:

    I love vintage style packaging, especially the European ones. There is a whole Flickr group decicated to it, here’s my fav:

    Unashamedly in your face!

    Great site by the way, been having fun having a browse.

    Mar said:

    Ahhh, your site smells wonderfully fresh today :wink:

    Puss in Boots said:

    Unfortunately I’m one of those people who can’t use soap…I have to use special body wash. It’s a shame because I love a lovely rich soap.

    Charles Ravndal said:

    I always admire those kind of vintage signages. I saw something like those when I was in Paris. I regret the fact that I didn’t bought some with me.

    beauty care said:

    paris is well renowned for its perfume and the vintage soap.
    i like those color of soap and the packing.

    i like perfume of paris especially

    claudie said:

    I Knew you loved the old posters or pictures like those since I read your posts. Those ones are very nice. I become nostalgic the old time just watching at them! :smile:
    Actually I bought a fabulous gel for the dush at the camion coming from Sicilia! And Mélissa and me we love its smell!

    TorAa said:

    I took love this old way of making soap.
    To day we find the in small villages, hand made by local artesians.
    The smell is lovely, without any false perfume.

    btw. We are still in live


    Like Mar says: You (site) smells wonderfully fresh today ;-)

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