Ancient beauty: a beauty brand based on aged recipes



New from one of my favourite beauty brands L’Occitane is Le Couvent des Minimes collection of products. The simple and natural products are based on the concoctions made by the Botanist Monks and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary who lived in the Convent of Minims, in the village of Manc in Haute-Provence, France in the 1600s onwards.

Their knowledge of the curative properties of the herbs and flowers grown in the convent’s gardens were put to good use to make their own recipes which were used to care and nourish the local community.

In 2004 L’Occitane founder Olivier Baussan stumbled across the ruins of the Convent and vowed to rescue the building, restore it to its former glory and honour its long history. He created the “Le Couvent des Minimes” brand, which has – up to now – only been available in France. In 2008, the Convent opened to the public once again, this time as a Relais & Chateaux Hotel and Spa.

Now introduced in the UK, the brand offers a wide selection of evocative sounding products in wonderful apothecary-style packaging. The brand also donates 1% of its annual sales to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary which continue to carry out charitable work around the world.


At the heart of the brand is a collection of colognes. Legend has it that in the the 14th century, an old queen regained her health and beauty after using ‘Eau Miraculeuse’ prepared in convents. The secret recipe combined citrus fruits, rosemary and eau de vie with other natural ingredients. The Eau Miraculeuse became known across Europe and became part of the daily morning ritual of many women. Heir to this tradition are Le Couvent des Minimes colognes.

There are four core scents to chose from, each with the signature fragrance and accompanying varying body range. Shown here is The Recipe of Love collection, which is based around orange blossom and is wonderfully uplifting. As well as the cologne in this range, there is a massage oil (shown top), a body butter, soap, hand cream and shower ‘pulp’. The other collections are The Recipe of the Cloister (cologne, shower cream and soap in a rose, peony and grapefruit scent); The Recipe of the Morning (cologne, shower ‘dew’, body moisturiser, hand cream and soap in an apple, orange, lemon, basil, pearl flower and fig scent); lastly The Recipe of the Minims is inspired by the original Eau Miraculeuse and is based on seven plants including lemon, orange and grapefruit, for an fresh, unisex scent (available in cologne, shower gel, toning body lotion, deodorant, hand cream and soap).

The brand also offers the Smile Recipe products for lips, the Relaxing Recipe to enhance sleep, Gardener’s Hand Healer products and Hiker’s Foot Healer range. Now available in Boots.

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