Marseille as a town is not particularly known for its cleanliness, but one of its most famous products is the soap. Le savon de Marseille is a French institution. It has been around for a least 700 years using, as its main ingredients, olive (the green variety) or palm oil (the white variety) and Mediterranean sea water. It traditionally comes as a big cube of soap and it it used to clean everything and anything. My grandmother still uses it to clean all her dishes as she does not trust modern dish-washing liquids to clean well enough! (Isn’t it funny how that generation is actually a lot more environmentally friendly than we are, without even trying?)
I personally swear it is the only way to get rid of nasty stains on baby and kids’ clothes. Just rub it on, soak it and wash normally, and most of the time the soap has gotten rid of all evidence.
There are lots of fancy versions of Savon de Marseille, but there’s actually only a handful of ‘real’ soap makers left producing the real deal in and around Marseille. Here in France you buy it in the local supermarkets. The rule of thumb is: the less frill on the packaging, the better the quality of soap!!