A life less ordinary, devoted to contemplation, the practice of botany, the act of caring for those who are ailing. Le Couvent des Minimes, or The Small Convent in Mane, Southern France, was founded in 1613. Named for the Minim Brothers, monks who were the first to occupy the facility, it was to be the sight of all that was good and green. Once the French Revolution was properly in the rear view mirror, the convent was restored. Thereafter, it was occupied by The Franciscan Missionaires de Marie Sisters (The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary).
The lands on which the convent sits are bucolic, lush, fertile, a haven for numerous species of trees, plants, flowers and bee enclaves. The nuns devoted themselves to cultivating the area, ensuring that what was harvested was used for food and for healing remedies for those who were ailing and in need, because part of their duties consisted of maintaining an almshouse. Further, the gardens served as the basis for two botany volumes that were compiled by Louis XIV’s own botanist.
As the nuns aged and their numbers depleted, eventually they left the convent around 1999. In 2004, the L’Occitane group, informed by the legacy of the monks and nuns, created the brand Le Couvent des Minimes. The convent has since been transitioned into a hotel and spa and the surrounding gardens and grounds are an integral part of this.
Le Couvent des Minimes’ portfolio includes an exciting array of products for the face, body and hair, along with fragrance. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the scents at one time or another and I was always very pleased. The fragrances, with assertive herb and fruit notes, are the kinds that can be worn to bed without possibly antagonising your bed mate, or your own precious nose. The brand also produces solid body products, emollient balms and beautifully formulated facial care items.
The standouts for me are the Gardener’s Hand Healer, The Cream for Very Dry Skin, The Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser and for feet in need, The Hikers foot Healer. I’ll share my thoughts on The Hiker’s Foot Healer, a foot polishing cream. It is formulated with Shea Butter, Grape Seed Oil, Poppy Seed and Pumice Stone along with plant extracts. I’m on my second jar of this. Applied to the soles of the feet and worked into the skin, when it is rinsed away you are standing on silk. I also like to bring it up to my calves as well to extend the smoothing benefits. The scent is divine, not overpowering, the texture hits the right tenor in being exfoliating enough without ripping your skin apart. This gets the job done and I’d even argue that with this, you can forego your local salon. Full disclosure, despite the name I work this into my hands as well. We all know how our hands can tell secrets about our age and what we do on a daily basis. Thus, The Hiker’s Foot Healer does double duty and is accessibly priced. This product can easily see you through two months, maybe three depending on how often you carve out the time required to give your parts the attention they require.
Le Couvent des Minimes as a brand was created not very long ago, but I’d say it was already in existence, because of the length of time the nuns and monks were already utilising the bounty of what was around them. The L’Occitane Group dedicates one percent of annual sales to charity. It is not a one name outfit, as it has five brands in its purview and boasts more than twenty-five hundred doors across ninety countries and counting.