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What do you do in the Beaujolais region if you don’t drink wine?

You scrub grapes all over your body, that’s what.

At least that’s what Nathalie Jacquet suggests: she manages a French line of grape-based cosmetics and body products, Rose & Pepper.

“We were inspired by the vines and roses,” she told me. Roses are often planted at the bottom of vine rows; because they are delicate, roses react to vine diseases before the vines are damaged, providing advance warning that something might be wrong.

vineyards of the beaujolais

Vineyards of the Beaujolais after a rainy moment (photo Anne Sterck)

Nathalie’s grape and cosmetics idea came from the realization that France’s spas rarely used essential oils, a gap she set out to fill.

“Spas as you know them in North America are new in France,” she explained. “Touching is not very common in France so we don’t have a huge tradition of massage. All this is changing fast.”

In France, wellness spas are relatively recent, although treatment establishments, like thermal spas, have been around for years. The wellness spas are catching up.

Take the Chateau de Pizay, now a hotel, is an imposing structure a few minutes outside Villefranche-sur-Saône, the capital of the Beaujolais region. It might be 1000 years old, but no one knows for sure. Although its rooms are in a modern annex, the original building complex has kept its imposing turrets and sculptures and topiaries, which probably look much as they would have hundreds of years ago.

Chateau de Pizay, Beaujolais, France

Hidden among its modern refurbished rooms is a tiny stylish spa, which has won awards for best design two years in a row. I’m not a swimmer but I jumped right into the large pool, splashing around its multiple jets (not exactly decorous behavior but I was having fun). Plus, this was a great prelude to the body scrub that followed.

I tried a special raisin scrub – a great exfoliant – and a rose-scented shea butter and yes, I could close my eyes and feel the breeze and the rose scent of the vineyards. More to the point, I couldn’t smell any of the chemical additives I so often find in treatment creams – because there aren’t any.

I’m not much of a beauty product or fashion enthusiast but if someone goes to the trouble of removing chemicals and animal ingredients in a product, they’ve got my attention.

Chateau de Pizay Morgon France

That’s me – just letting go and enjoying myself (photo Anne Sterck)

So yes, you can visit the Beaujolais even if you don’t drink wine.

You’ll just be wearing the vineyard instead.

Things every Woman on the Road should know

  • The Chateau de Pizay is smack in the heart of the Beaujolais, about 20min North of Villefranche-sur-Saône. If you do drink wine, the Chateau has its own vineyards. Of course.
  • Take a closer look at Rose and Pepper – it’s always nice to support businesses that make an effort to steer clear of chemicals.
  • If you happen to visit in December, make a small detour to the hilltop village of Oingt, where for a month each year everyone dresses up their windows with manger scenes for Christmas.

This article is part of the My Rhône-Alpes series, in which I’ve been exploring the entire region – I live here and love it. Thanks to the Rhône-Alpes Tourist Office for organizing this visit and hosting Women on the Road. Opinions are my own: I’m opinionated and plan to stay that way.

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