Fun fact: Le Petit Marseillais (mar-say-yay) is running scratch'n'sniff ads to announce their arrival in North America. I haven't seen such things since my nieces used to collect stickers – is using scratch'n'sniff in magazines a thing again?
Le Petit Marseillais is one of France's staple personal-grooming brands, and it's finally landed in North America. Already available in 19 other countries, including Belgium, Spain, Greece, Russia and Poland, the extensive lineup of body and hair care dates back to the early 1980s and a single, honeysuckle-scented traditional Provence soap made mostly of olive oil. The product range expanded into liquid and gel soaps after Le Petit Marseillais was purchased by a larger French company in the late 80s; Johnson & Johnson acquired it in 2006 and took it from there.
Five body washes (400mL, $7.99 CAD each at Rexall and 700mL, $8.50 USD at walgreens.com) are the first from the Le Petit Marseillais portfolio to hit Canadian and US mass retailers. (Fun fact: in France this collection consists of 22 body washes.)
Each body wash formula is pH-neutral to avoid stripping skin dry. The fragrances are all inspired by scents of the south of France: Orange Blossom, White Peach & Nectarine, Vanilla Milk, Lavender Honey, and Cotton Milk & Poppy. (Orange Blossom is the most popular worldwide.)
When it comes to French lifestyle or beauty staples, I look to our Liza (Leeza) Herz – here's her French Pharmacy 2.0 Beauty Finds story, another on her favourite French dish soap, this one on lip balms from away, and a quick guide to Parisian-girl dressing without the air fare. She's spent enough time across le pond to know things.
Although she hasn't tried Le Petit Marseillais body washes, Liza buys Le Marseillais soap whenever she's in Cannes or Paris. (She really likes soap.) "Don't judge the brand for being sold in grocery stores in France," she says. "The French like good stuff; they don't care where they buy it."
So far I've tried White Peach & Nectarine and Orange Blossom. White Peach & Nectarine is mouthwatering and juicy at first sniff, but softens when you actually use the gel in shower – the scent is light, subtle, and doesn't linger long on skin. Same for Orange Blossom. No overpowering perfumes here; fragrances for Le Petit Marseillais are created by skilled perfumers at Givaudan, which has worked with Calvin Klein, Prada, Diptyque, Tom Ford, Narciso Rodriguez and many, many more prestige designers.
As to the "gentle," pH-neutral formula claim, so far so good. The shower gel and créme develop satisfying suds on skin, but don't strip or dry it out.
I'm actually much more interested in the Le Petit Marseillais men's shower gel fragrances, such as Pin Maritime et Eucalyptus, Bois de Cade et Fougère and Minéraux et Bois de Cèdre. I'm also curious about the brand's body lotions, and this face-and-body balm. As well, there's a Mandarin & Lime shower gel calling my name (and pronouncing it correctly... *grin*).
But who knows yet whether the men's shower gels will make their way over here following the Canadian debut of the above five body washes? A peek at the US version of the brand website suggests that liquid soap and body moisturizers will be next to hit the Canadian market.
Le Petit Marseillais is available at Rexall pharmacies and Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada.
Are you familiar with Le Petit Marseillais? If yes, do you have a favourite or favourites? If no, what else from the brand might interest you? And how 'bout that scratch'n'sniff strategu??