La Tour sur Tinnée, France - How far would you go to find the Fountain of Youth? By Joel Stratte-McClure
Would you fly to France, rent a car at the Nice airport and drive forty-five nail-biting minutes up dizzyingly steep roads to the perched village of La Tour de Tinee?
Would you search for a small lavender sign -"Les Senteurs du Claut" - before parking precariously on a winding road and climbing down a rocky dirt path to the home of Sylviane Reina and Alain Sanguinetti?
You might if you knew what many beautiful French women know. High in the Maritime Alps, this low-key couple meticulously produces pure, all-natural, organic skin salves harvested from the unique high-altitude wild flora around their mountain home.
The couple, who both used to work for IBM, produces only 350-400 tiny 40-milliliter containers of"Le Pot de Peau" each year. Their lavender and geranium-based balms - which contain local beeswax, wild vegetable oils, and essential oils from cypress trees and wild medicinal plants - can be used as day-and-night face treatments, hair conditioners and even the world's finest cuticle cream.
Although they export essential oils around the world, the only way to get the miraculous"Le Pot de Peau" is to run into Sylviane and Alain at a local village market or make the perilous drive to their home. Okay, you can also fax an order but, hey, how much of a challenge is that?
"We're working with nature and exploring our passion for some 300 different wild plants that grow above 3,000 feet," said Sylviane, as she served pure mountain spring water flavored with their own fresh mint oil on a patio overlooking several ranges of mountains."We have a nice family business but we really don't have time to work on global marketing or sales."
Japanese and American retailers who buy the essential oils, occasionally make pilgrimages to"Les Senteurs du Claut" to help harvest the wild plants and observe the couple's distillation process. Clients from around France and Europe who are addicted to"Le Pot" make the periodic pilgrimage.
"You can smell the difference in lavender harvested and distilled at different altitudes," said Alain, as he places sprigs and buds into the spring-fed, low-pressure still he designed and built. "When customers come to us and see the effort it takes to gather the plants and produce our oils and creams, they never complain about the price."
But who'd complain? A container of"Le Pot de Peau" only costs ten euros. Not bad, even including air fare.
For additional information:
Sylviane Reina and Alain Sanguinetti
Les Senteurs du Claut
06420 La Tour sur Tinee
This article is copyrighted by Joel Stratte-McClure.
Photos copyrighted by Russ Collins, www.beyond.fr.