I’ve come to learn that lavender oils are not all created equal! Whilst some oils speed ones olfactory senses headlong into powder-puff sugary sweetness others can leave you with a sense of warmth and comforting calm. It is always the latter that I seek out.
Years ago now I came across a charming set of little stores in Paris, set behind the church of St. Gervais et St. Protais on the southern edge of the Marais. Aptly named ‘Monastica’ they are manned by a crew of Catholic nuns in classic habits, and stock a vast range of products such as linens, candles, honeys, preserves, baked goods and stationery that are produced first hand in, or in some way are associated with, various monasteries. It was in the beauty product selection there that I discovered the oil by the ‘Monastère de la Paix-Dieu Cabanoule’ from Anduze in the south of France.
Each clear glass bottle is finished with a simple, unassuming, gold foil label. Whilst a few sizes are in fact available I find the small bottle is the perfect traveling companion. I keep a bottle handy in my dopp kit and in my bathroom cabinet at home. Each morning I apply one or two drops of the oil to a handkerchief.
My close friends will often pass some witty remark about ‘Grandma’s handkerchief’ as I pull it from my trouser pocket, but I cannot say how many times this has rescued me [or them] from some questionable smell in a taxi cab or airline cabin! It is also welcoming, of course, when dropped into a bathtub of warm water.
Rather than the overtly floral notes often associated with some lavender oils, I can only describe this version as bordering on ruggedly handsome and peppery dry. It reminds me, all at once, of the scent released from rubbing a stalk of lavender flowers between your fingers on a warm summers day.
Credit photo: Albano