The garrigue in the South of France produces some of the most intoxicatingly aromatic plants on earth.
The wild plants of the garrigue are world-renowned. When we think of the South of France we think of bright purple lavender fields; chicken roasted with hand-clipped rosemary and thyme; soap and lotion infused with verbena. The generosity of the garrigue arouses all of our senses not just because of the variety of aromatic plants it offers but also the quality and strength of their perfumes.
There is not a scientific definition of garrigue. There are slight variations but the most common agreed upon today is:
“The garrigue is a formation of vegetation that is adapted to aridity, most often situated on a limestone terrain in the form of plateaus or hills. The plant species are essentially shrubs, low bushes more or less dispersed, and herbaceous plants.”
This definition is by Les Ecologistes de l’Euzière, an association whose mission is to educate and to advise on the subject of the nature and landscape of the Mediterranean.
We have studied with them and read many of their books and articles on the garrigue. In a more subjective article they express their passion for the landscape they work to advocate for and protect :
“The perfumes accompany the walker in the garrigue more than other places, as if the sun has the gift to press the plants to release all of their aromas…More than the smell, the taste helps in a better discovery of the nature of the garrigue.”
The history of foraging this generous region begins with the first humans to live upon this land. For centuries people in the South of France have used plants for their medicinal nature, creating panaceas of great renown throughout the Mediterranean and beyond. The 20th century mass exodus of the French from the countryside to cities contributed to the decline of knowledge of the plants of the garrigue. There has been a renewed interest in the aromatic and medicinal plants in the South of France, giving birth to products that express the terroir du sud.