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#7 Article Le Figaro magazine - 3 September 2021

Updated: Feb 28, 2022

For the love of lavender

A former sailor, this jack-of-all-trades started making spindles filled with fragrant seeds.

From an object of Provencal tradition, he has made an exceptional item.

From the navy to the nostril, Philippe Franc's career path is not the most classic. After years on the deck of ships, then as an engineer in various industries, including civil nuclear power, your creator became fascinated by lavender. It all started with a welcome gift from a neighbour: a braided spindle filled with these delicately scented seeds, a Provencal tradition. Philippe Franc has just settled in Pertuis, near Aix-en-Provence.

In 2003, at the age of 41, he resumed his studies, earning an MBA in marketing. "This lavender spindle spoke to me," he says. He immersed himself in scents and colours. As far as scents are concerned, he has a lot to live up to. He comes from a family of distillers from Revel. As for his eye, he is an amateur painter with a rich palette. Self-taught, Philippe Franc began to make the spindles himself. In Saint-Etienne, he learns about the quality of the ribbons of which the Forez region is the world capital. His productions look so good that he offers them to Parisian palaces. Le Meurice wants to order 500 pieces from him. Impossible, because it was too early. At the Crillon, the success is instantaneous. The director bought one as a gift and the boutique decided to offer it to its customers.

"Vintage wines

After three years of selling on the Cours Mirabeau market in Aix, he created his own workshop and launched himself on the internet. He trains three people. It's quite an art," he explains. Assembling the stems without breaking them, knotting them, braiding the ribbon around them, that requires mastery.

The range is growing: three sizes of spindles as well as balls and even Fabergé-style eggs. The ribbons are in velvet and satin. Luxurious metal braids are also available. Located under an archway in the heart of the village of Lourmarin, the Franc 1884 boutique opened in 2018 and is a real eye-catcher. The shelves shimmer and the scents are fragrant. The 2021 harvest has just been completed," explains Philippe Franc. We are making the new pieces.

Two lavender growers have reserved 20,000 plants for him. "Only vintage wines", insists this wine lover. In the summer of 2022, he will launch a bottle of lavender inspired by the bottles that Fargeon, Marie-Antoinette's perfumer, prepared for the queen. From sea spray to fragrances, the former sailor has a good nose.

Jean-Marc Gonin


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