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French Province

Provence – lavender blue territory

A land of sunshine and scents, poised between the influences of the Mediterranean and the Alps, the Provence region offers a mild climate that is ideal for the cultivation of aromatic and fragrant plants. At a bend in a path, beyond fields of violets, jasmine and roses, you see hills planted with bitter orange trees and wilderness areas covered in late spring broom flowers or winter mimosa flowers. In the distance are vast expanses of lavender and lavendin.

In the Middle Ages, lavender was grown in the gardens of abbeys and was a popular regional remedy that itinerant herbalists from the Lure mountains sold all over Provence for its beneficial, relaxing and antimicrobial qualities.

Production in France's organic cradle

Further north, on the border of the Alps and Provence, the Drôme area has an amazing biological diversity. In the seventies, the cultivation of organic Fragrant, Aromatic, Medicinal Plants (PPAM) developed in Ardèche and the Drôme areas. Currently, 50% of local PPAM production is certified as organic.

To obtain high quality plants, organic local Drôme farmers use elaborate techniques which involve hoeing, earthing-up, subsoiling, biological control of pests (using natural predators), thermal weed control, solarization, etc. Their knowledge of vegetative cycles and relations between plant species ensure that the region’s biodiversity, water quality, soil quality and landscapes are protected.

In this region, we are the exclusive partners of farmers in Sica Bioplantes , France’s leading producer of Organic medicinal and aromatic plants. All their products have been certified as organic by Ecocert.

Through this stable and long-standing partnership, we promote the organic cultivation of spices and medicinal plants. In this way, we ensure that farmers comply with European organic specifications. Producers agree not to use synthetic chemicals or GMO products, to ensure animal well-being, to comply with conversion periods before selling their products under the Organic label (2 years for annual plants and 3 years for vine and orchard plants). In return for this, we agree to buy the farmers’ produce at a fair price, i.e. high enough to maintain local production. We provide them with a set of services, technical advice on farming and production support. Nestling in the valley of Eygluy-Escoulin, our distillery makes essential oils and hydrolats, in partnership with Sica Bioplantes producers.

In 2017, ELIXENS France selected an innovative technical solution to limit any impact of its distillery on the nearby river, Sépie. An adiabatic cooler is a box the size of a transport container operating in a similar manner to a car radiator. It is the passage of air through a possibly humidified support (to increase the cooling capacity) which comes to cool a secondary circuit, allowing the extraction of the calories from the distillation vapors and their condensation. This unit runs on electricity and has been sized for start-up when the air temperature is high, a situation that has unfortunately become more and more common in recent years.

The distillery is classified Organic thanks to its direct water supply from the mountain source Sépie, it has 2 stainless steel process lines (distillers, tanks and reactors) for the processing of local and regional natural products.