Our Company

A part of history...

Founded on the shores of Lake Leman in the 1950's, Laboratoire Provendi has become famous due to a very simple concept: a soap that is always dry and close at hand. Over the years, thousands of institutions and companies have thus been equipped with our wall-mounted soap holders and rotating soap dispensers.

Savon Provendi

Look familiar?

Banking on its experience as a master soapmaker, our modest company has gradually grown by producing liquid Marseille soap. That trade name refers to a traditional method of manufacturing soap that was developed in the 18th century in the city of the same name.

Savon rotatif

The so-called "Marseille" method

When the French Minister of Finance, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, made Marseille an official trade entity in 1669, he shifted the monopoly on soap making formerly held by the city of Toulon. In 1688, by setting regulations on the manufacture of Marseille soap, "without fats, under penalty of having the goods confiscated," his son, Jean-Baptiste Colbert de Seignelay, guaranteed the quality and reputation of Marseille soap factories.
However, soap had clearly existed prior to that date, probably since around 5,000 B.C. Peoples residing in the Mediterranean region, such as the Vikings and the Celts, produced soap in the 10th century, at that time made of animal fat and ashes.


The formulas for soap making subsequently evolved: for example, the salve for washing hair (the "sapo" of the Gauls), was transformed into a true soap with cleansing and foaming properties. At the end of the 17th century, the formulation was more or less as follows: sodium carbonate collected on the banks of salty lakes (later, sodium, derived from plants, specifically glasswort) and alkalis or potassium (in Northern Europe) were mixed with animal fats and subsequently with vegetable oils.

In 1791, Nicolas Leblanc, a French chemist, invented caustic soda using sea salt. A revolutionary discovery had thus taken place in his factory in Marseille! The master soapmakers of Marseille - who had acquired special expertise in producing soap containing olive oil - as in Alep (Syria) or Gallipoli (Italy), began to improve their manufacturing processes and the modern, so-called "Marseille" method of making soap was born.

In contrast to cold production, this modern method is mainly based on the use of noble oils mixed with soda and cooked in a soap factory. This innovative, 4-stage process was legally enshrined by decree, starting in 1812 and most recently, in 2003. In order to meet the demands of consumers, master soapmakers, especially Provendi, created liquid Marseille soap.


In summary...
  • The name "savon de Marseille" (Marseille soap) refers to the traditional "Marseille" method of making soap, carried out in any soap factory in the world.
  • It cannot be applied to the "modern" process of mixing soda and fatty acids obtained chemically, nor to the mere transformation (in terms of colour, scent, moulding, or dilution) of a base.
  • Proud of its origins (and of its ingredients), liquid Marseille soap displays its pedigree clearly on the label: it is neither a foaming gel nor a cleansing cream.

And at present...

Now the leading French producer of liquid Marseille soap, Laboratoire Provendi boasts a double status as a moderate-size company and an innovative laboratory, ever mindful of complying with current regulatory and environmental requirements. In our authentic vats, water from the Alps is mixed with plant-based oils and ingredients under the watchful eye of an expert master soapmaker.

Holder to a know-how, Laboratoire Provendi is registered with the Chamber of Trade.