Anyone in Paris can now buy good quality Provençal olive oil from six dedicated olive oil shops in the capital. At Première Pression Provençal, (First Pressed Provence) customers discover the lesser known olive regions of the Provence, experience the nuances of vert, noire et mûr (green black and ripe) olive oil from thirty two Provençal producers, and can even compose their own variations of olive oil.
At the helm of this new enterprise is Olivier Baussan creator of the successful natural cosmetic company L’Occitane. Baussan, also the creator of the Mediterranean specialty retailer Olivier &Co, has always loved olive oil. Now he wants to share that passion and his own Provençal culture while providing a new outlet for olive producers to sell their fine extra virgin oils.
It’s a welcome boost for olive oil producers in the south of France. Although the quality of French olive oil is widely regarded among the best in the world, France produces much less olive oil than competitors Spain and Italy, and France processes only three per cent of its fruit for oil.
Baussan is an expert in olive oil; he has been involved in olive oil business since 1996 when he set up Oliviers & Co. His suppliers, mostly from France, Spain and Italy were small families and cooperatives who followed precise methods of cultivation and production. When he left the company eight years ago, Oliviers & Co boasted 85 shops world wide.
He created L’Eco Musée de l’olivier in Volx in Upper Provence in 2006, a museum dedicated to Mediterranean olive farming and traditional lifestyle. Using interactive and audiovisual tools, visitors learn all about olive oil culture and also get a chance to taste different olive oils and products. Baussan opened the first Premiere Pression shop at the museum in his native Provence.
He says “the olive trees of the Provence make up more than the landscape. They are the substance for the stories of men and women who live in harmony with the land. It’s sharing these encounters and the desire to create ties that drove me to the olive fields in search of delicious discoveries.”