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Lavender Fields & Almond Trees

The girls were electric with excitement. Although they were all younger than eight years old, they had all heard talk of “the spa” from women around them. The spa: It held mystic, intrigue, elegance, and beauty. On this day, mothers and daughters were invited to enjoy their first mini “spa day” at L’Occitane en Provence, a store known around the world for both it’s beauty and it’s quality.

Awakening the Five Senses

Adventure Clubs co-designed this unique experience with L’Occitane, created specifically for parents with young children. It was designed around the five senses, for what is more French than a fully sensory experience. Oui? It included elements of tasting, smelling, touching, hearing and seeing. And truly, to know France is to know the senses.

As the passionate staff at L’Occitane say,”It all began in the markets of Provence. With nothing but a small truck and a solid knowledge of plants, a 23-year-old named Olivier Baussan began distilling rosemary essential oil to sell locally. He expanded his production from oils to soaps to creams, taking inspiration from the land he grew up on to bring natural beauty to homes.”

We came to this experience because we wanted to feel like we’d been to France, and to stretch and ignite our five senses through a spa-like experience.

Sense #1: Hearing

Adventure Clubs co-designed this unique experience with L’Occitane, created specifically for parents with young children. It was designed around the five senses, for what is more French than a fully sensory experience. Oui? It included elements of tasting, smelling, touching, hearing and seeing. And truly, to know France is to know the senses.

Sense #2: Tasting

Giggling and ecstatic, the girls accepted a welcome drink of sparkling lemonade, complemented by a colorful array of meringues and fresh strawberries. The first macarons ever made were simple cookies, made of almond powder, sugar and egg whites. Today, many towns in France have their own unique story around this special delicacy.

Only at the beginning of the 20th century did the macaron become a “double-decker” delight. Pierre Desfontaines decided to fill them with a “chocolate panache” and stick them together into the delicious, pillowy affair we know now enjoy.

Since then, French macarons are nationally renowned all over France and remain the best-selling cookie in pastry stores nationwide.

“Mommy”, one little girl on the adventure remarked, “Is this what it’s like to be in France?” Her eyes danced with awe as the macaron melted on her tongue and the classical music filled her ears.

Sense #3: Seeing

We were then introduced to the store layout by color: the yellows, the pinks, the whites, the blues. Each section giving a clue about what it might hold. We explored large posters of almond trees, peony fields and cherry blossoms as we looked at the map of France and the region of Provence, where lavender fields reign, almond trees are plentiful, and peonies beckon.

In that area, L’Occitane works directly with over 130 farmers and 10,000 pickers, supporting whole communities of people. We also discovered that L’Occitane means “the woman from Occitania”. Occitania is the name of the ancient geographic area in southern France.

{SEE STUNNING VIDEO OF A HOT AIR BALLOON FLOATING OVER PROVENCE:)

Next, we moved into exploring shea butter. Two of the little girls, being both born in Africa, were delighted to learn that the pure shea butter (with NO additives) sold in L’Occitane comes from Burkina Faso in Central Africa. The shea tree there is called “women’s gold” because the shea tree produces a nut that is then crushed into a butter, with much song and dance and celebration! It is the livelihood and empowerment of many women Burkina Faso.

While sampling the shea butter products on our skin (oh, how divine!), we were treated to a viewing of this video (see below) about shea butter and L’Occitane’s work there with microcredit and women empowerment, an important pillar of the brand given that the name of the company itself is about women.

(MUST SEE VIDEO of the making of shea butter in Burkina Faso)

Sense #4: Touching

Together, we continued our journey through this sumptuous sensory experience by learning about essential oils and their power to transform, refresh and revive the skin. Each mother and daughter had a chance to explore the oils and choose a favorite scent while learning how to use them in various ways. The little girls were intrigued and delighted!

We then settled into the spa area, where we sampled and tried a variety of fun products: cleansers, oils, creams and more, before each being treated to a mini “facial” performed on our hands and arms, along with a hand massage. Even the tiniest adventurer, less than two years old, loved sitting in the spa chair and being spoiled with her mini message treatment. There was just pure joy and fun! From little to big, the mothers and daughters were fully engaged in soaking up this luxurious spoil.

Sense #5: Smelling

After more refreshments, we moved into learning about fragrances. Each fragrance comes with a story from France and an exploration of the olfactory notes represented in their scent: aromatic, sweet, woody, floral, gourmand. Through a variety of simple games, the girls were soon identifying each scent correctly: Lavender, Verbana, Peony, Rose, and more. The girls received fragrance bracelets with their favorite scent too, so they could keep the scent with them all day, extending their experience.

As we enjoyed the fragrances, we learned that if it was early summer in France and we were on a slope in northeast Corsica, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, we might find a field of bright yellow flowers in full bloom: the “Immortelle Flower”. It is known as the “golden sun” and never fades, even when picked!

The immortelle flower is cultivated by L’Occitane for its essential oil, a key ingredient in many of their products. Throughout the stores, you see these pops of bright yellow flowers, representing the region and their brand.

(LEARN MORE ABOUT THE IMMORTALE FLOWER)

Taking it Home

To complete this journey to France, the mothers and daughters were further spoiled by being handed little goodie bags with a variety of samples. We felt like a million bucks walking out of the adventure, forever connected to France and to L’Occitane because of the wonderful products and the myriad of little “gems” we learned, all through storytelling during a multi-sensory, hands-on experience.

In the words of one of the little girls, who left the store brimming with delight,
“Merci, L’Occitane. Ç’est Magnifique!!

Early Childhood Development

As designers who focus on deepening the parent-child relationship through unique shared experiences, we have seen that retail spaces like L’Occitane are highly underutilized resource for early childhood development.

Often, you find that in preschools and mommy and me type of weekly classes at play centers, teachers will create “sensory boxes” or stations with things to see, touch and feel, (rarely would it include anything to smell or taste). These sensory boxes invite little ones to explore the world around them using their senses. It’s simple and effective.

As children learn and grow, they need to continue to be given opportunity after opportunity to awake their senses and use them in learning and exploring. High quality retail stores spend huge money designing their spaces and creating multi-sensory moments. If we walk by these stores and don’t utilize those opportunities for educating and enlightening our kids, we are missing an opportunity!

Invitations to Engage

Adventure Design Studio works with brands to develop group experiences like this. If you are working with a brand and you’d like to learn more about how we can work together, email us at hello@adventureclubs.com.

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Adventure Clubs is a family experience design company that offers a gift to you as a parent. We make it easy for you to enjoy beautiful moments with your children in a way that’s social, affordable, flexible, and fun. Download the app for iPhone or Android and start adventuring! Adventure Clubs © Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.
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