Postcards from Provence, France with L’Occitane

It’s always interesting to me how people discover certain products or brands. One day a few years back, I was particularly worked up about something so Nick’s mom insisted, “Here, take a whiff of this! It’ll help you de-stress!” What she rubbed onto my wrists was one of L’Occitane’s lavender oils, purchased during her trip to Provence. And while I’ve used and loved a handful of L’Occitane products since then, I never knew too much about the brand beyond the basics: a lovely bath and skincare company based in France.

So when the L’Occitane team invited us to Provence to experience firsthand how their product comes to life, we jumped at the opportunity. Two flights and a long drive later, we were in the beautiful and remote French countryside (with literally no cell service or wifi!). I was excited to explore the region and learn a thing or two about my favorite shower oil. What I didn’t expect, though, was to also gain so much inspiration about entrepreneurship and what it takes to build an enduring brand.

So this will be a bit of a different post—I’m going to share our photo diary, along with some motivating lessons that I took with me.

loccitane provence dinner with founder olivier baussanOur feathered co-host for the evening

couple dressy dinner outfit france europe tripOutfit from this blog post 

loccitane founder olivier baussan One of the highlights of the trip was having dinner with L’Occitane’s founder, Olivier Baussaun

1. Open yourself up to chance opportunities

For me, the most interesting story about L’Occitane was how the company itself came to be. As Olivier shared it with us, when he was a young lavender distiller, he came across what looked like a shut-down soap factory. The door was cracked open so he decided to peek inside. He ended up having a lengthy chat with the retiring owner who, sensing the young man’s passion through their conversation, decided to gift Olivier his soap-making equipment. And it was with this equipment that Olivier made his first L’Occitane soaps and got his start.

I know the US doesn’t have the same relaxed vibe of Provence circa 1970s, but I couldn’t imagine this story playing out this way with my life! I often feel so focused on getting from task A to task B, it’s hard to deviate from the path that you (or others) have put in front of yourself. And to be honest, I rarely strike up conversations with strangers, and dread networking events a little more than I should. This story reminded me that sometimes you need to open up and do some purposeful wandering—because new opportunities might not be too far from the path you’re on.

loccitane scientist laboratory provence officesThrowback to high school chemistry (except actually paying attention this time : )

2. Do things with commitment, conviction, and passion

What struck me most about the soap factory story was that the owner could sense Olivier’s passion and commitment just from their encounter. And I found that to be true with every one of the individuals we met along our visit. The farmers gushed about the relationship between the bees and lavender. The herbologist (think Harry Potter professor meets costume-designer in the Incredibles) literally danced her way around the gardens, plucking plants here and there for us to feel, smell, and taste. And the lab scientists (even though much of what they said went over my head) talked excitedly about developing each new skincare formula.

provence france countryside hotel mane Lessons from our plant professor – an inspiring woman in an equally inspiring place

Learning how to extract natural essential oils from flowers, the old school way

Another story Olivier shared with us was about their signature shea butter products, which many of you may be familiar with! At an airport, he struck up conversation with a woman about something she was using – it turned out to be the buttery extract of shea nuts from her native African village. Intrigued, Olivier changed his flight that day to visit her hometown in Burkina Faso, where he eventually gained the trust of local villagers to create a fair trade shea butter relationship. He made that commitment and followed through on it, and today the partnership employs over 17,000 women in Burkina Faso.

Having worked my share of passionless jobs, I’ve realized the importance of finding things you deeply care about and can commit to. It’s become almost too easy to start something, only to jump to the next new thing or idea without following through on the previous one. It was reaffirming to see commitment and passion as key ingredients of success, and it’s applicable either in a career path or with a business you’re building yourself.

A sunrise view worth waking up early for

3. Take inspiration from what’s around you

Ok, I admit, if you live in the south of France it’s probably a tad easier to find inspiration. But there’s still something to be said for taking inspiration from your daily surroundings. It’s easy to do that when traveling, but the real challenge is staying inspired in your day-to-day life.

This can be just another reason to initiate new conversations and wander purposefully (with an eye out for opportunity!). Maybe there’s a problem within your everyday routine waiting to be solved by a simple idea. This blog, for example, was started as a passion project when I was tired of looking like a kid wearing ill-fitting clothes!

provence france hot air balloon ride sunrise
petite jumpsuit floral romper asos

New Look jumpsuit sz 2 petite, runs small and short (also in tall)
Sam Edelman sandals sz 5 (also sold here)

L’Occitane has several collections such as lavender or immortelle, each relating to crops that they partner with local farmers on in France (with the exception of shea butter). As someone with dry skin, my personal favorite has been their Almond collection. And if you prefer lighter fragrances over perfumy, this line has a fresh, delicious almond scent that’s not at all overpowering.

Their moisturizing Almond Shower Oil has been a staple in my shower, and I almost always get comments on it by houseguests! I duck out from under the shower water to lather this up and really apply it all over my skin before rinsing, and it works really well as a shaving oil. Just be warned, your boyfriend / husband might never go back to his drugstore body wash after this! For extra moisturizing, I also like to treat my skin to the Almond Supple Skin Oil right after a shower.

Another product that I wanted to share is L’Occitane’s organic 100% shea butter, sourced from Burkina Faso. On this trip, I learned the women there have used this natural product for generations upon generations, applying it daily to their skin and hair to moisturize and protect from the elements. My friends swear by this for preventing pregnancy stretch marks, and if you read through the customer reviews, there’s actually quite a few interesting uses (i.e. cracked heels, dry elbows, eczema patches, burns)!

Fun fact: to protect the bees during lavender harvesting, they had to create a device to “scare” them away

provence france lavender field farm loccitane
Thank you to L’Occitane for partnering on this post. I hope you enjoyed this photo diary!

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Leave a Comment


  1. Miss Dell wrote:

    Can you share where you purchased the lovely white dress you are wearing in the latter pictures of this post? What a fun opportunity!

    Posted 9.12.17 Reply
  2. Cam Nguyen wrote:

    The lavender field is so pretty. Your travel post are always so fun to read.

    Also I would like to mention that the changes to your layout made it more user friendly, I used to have such a hard time commenting on post.

    Posted 8.13.17 Reply
  3. Mizeats wrote:

    Hi Jean – You’ve transported me to the south of France with this post!! Such an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing such beautiful pics from your time there! This was such a lovely post! I really enjoyed how you described the origins of L’occitane and how the founder’s journey was inspiring for you! For me, it’s been inspiring following along your journey from when you were writing this blog part-time to now where it’s become a full-time labor of love! Thanks for sharing!!

    Posted 8.11.17 Reply
  4. shirley wrote:

    Do you know if the 100% shea butter can be use on 5 month old baby skin?

    Posted 8.11.17 Reply
  5. Carol Pardee wrote:

    Lovely post! And I am addicted to the entire Almond line as well!

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  6. Shari wrote:

    Great job!!!!

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  7. I really love this post! Your trip to Provence looks so utterly magical, and I am so happy to hear that L’Occitane is a brand with a story as great as its products. These are great lessons that I’ll try to keep in mind!

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  8. Joules wrote:

    I love how you structured this post with life lessons learned from this trip. Your outfits are all gorgeous–especially that last one!

    Style by Joules

    Posted 8.9.17 Reply
  9. Kelly wrote:

    This was a beautiful post and a nice change of pace from all the other posts in my feed. It’s also one of the few blogger trips I’ve read about that actually had made me want to go and try the products – their backstory is so inspiring!

    Posted 8.9.17 Reply
  10. C'est moi! wrote:

    Awww… you remembered. Enjoyed reading your encouraging and uplifting post. It is thoughtful of you to share your insight with your readers.

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  11. Jessica wrote:

    Oh my gosh what a dream!!! Good for you girl!!

    xo, jess

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  12. Ankita Bardhan wrote:

    OMG these pictures look just like a dream, even more majestic! Everything is beyond gorgeous! 🙂


    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  13. Karrie wrote:

    This was a great post. Thank you for the life lessons. Now to hop over to the L occitane website. I think their hand creams are really great.

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  14. Jeany wrote:

    Wow, the pictures are amazing and I’m so in love with all your outfits! you have such an amazing sense of style!
    xx, Jeany from

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  15. Deasy wrote:

    SUCH gorgeous photos! That’s amazing you got to see the bts of L’Occitaine. I’ve always admired their products but have never purchased them. Will keep in mind their shea butter product for future pregnancy!

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  16. That is so cool! I love loccitane and this is pretty awesome, being able to learn more about the making process, sourcing, history and the likes. Lovely photos as well and the field of lavender is absolutely stunning!

    XOXO //
    SINCERELY OPHELIA | NYC Petite Fashion Blogger

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  17. Pam wrote:

    Gorgeous photography! ♥

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  18. SN wrote:

    The pictures are so lovely. After seeing these pictures, I can’t wait until I go to Paris in November.

    xo. SN |

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  19. Beautiful pictures and lovely pieces; Especially the white dress! It’s giving me “girl next door” vibes! Love!

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  20. Anabela Barbosa wrote:

    I have the be honest, i’ve been visiting your blog a little less as I still can’t get used to the new set-up but for this post, I dove right in! I love L’Occitaine products and Provence is just the most beautiful and romantic countryside!! Pics looked beautiful and I’m totally jealous about such an intimate experience. Gorgeous!

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  21. mel wrote:

    That balloon ride and the lavender field are just so so dreamy! Looks like such an incredible time. Wishing I was in Provence now!

    xx, mel

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  22. Kate wrote:

    This post was not only beautiful (as always!), but it literally made me tear up. I loved the story of how the founder got started, that’s the magic of life – you just never know where it will take you! I am inspired, thank you Jean.

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  23. Phuong wrote:

    Your photos always give me a serious case of wanderlust. They are so beautiful! Thank you for the inspiring stories as well 🙂

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  24. Lindsey wrote:

    What a cool trip! I’ve used a few L’Occitane products, but never knew much about the brand. Definitely have a new respect for them. I hope their bees stay well.

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  25. Becky wrote:

    SO lucky!! Looks marvelous! I’ve been to the south of France, where in particular was this location?

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  26. Kay Nguyen wrote:

    Looks like such a fun! You’re so amazing <3

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  27. Rachelle wrote:

    I’ve loved L’Occitane for years and this is such a great opportunity. Loved both of your looks in Provence.


    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  28. Wow! What a fantastic opportunity, and what a great time it looks like you had Jean! Gorgeous photographs as always!

    I hope you have a wonderful Tuesday,

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  29. Ray wrote:

    I love L’occitane products, especially their hand creams.

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  30. Deirdre Munnelly wrote:

    I loved these wonderful pictures and inspiring words. Love your blog and I’m a very petite Irish girl trying to help others find petite clothes too. I’ve only started though!!
    Keep inspiring,
    Petite Dee

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  31. Kristjaana wrote:

    Wow the photos of you on the lavender field <333
    I love L'Occitane products, their hand cream is my total favorite! I'm sure you had an amazing trip with them.

    xx Kristjaana

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  32. Love the photos – you look fab! Sounds like you had an amazing time 🙂


    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  33. Ah it looks amazing! Love the photos. X

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  34. Elizabeth wrote:

    All of these photos are stunning, especially the ones in the lavender field! 🙂 <3 And definitely agree with all of your advice – sometimes, taking a chance is what gets you exactly where you want to be!

    XO, Elizabeth

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  35. Argh, the photos are beyond gorgeous. What an exciting opportunity!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Posted 8.8.17 Reply
  36. Ellese wrote:

    Oh my goodness! What a dreamy and spectacular opportunity. I can smell the lavender already. Thanks for sharing these gorgeous memories. Xo, Ellese


    Posted 8.7.17 Reply
  37. Thao wrote:

    I am really enjoying the change of pace with this reflective post. While the new site set up was initially jarring, I am definitely taking advantage of these nice new features (esp. cleaner sorting of outfits by season & occasion). Great updates, but thank you for also staying true to your reliable and informative posts!

    Posted 8.7.17 Reply
  38. Amy Hoang wrote:

    This post was so beautiful!

    Posted 8.7.17 Reply

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