From bulk to bottle

Thus did Emile Noël meet the demand from farmers who were keen to have their own oils. Around that period, the hippie community that settled on the Larzac Plateau – great fans of natural oils – enlisted the master miller to crush their sunflower seeds. “I went to the plateau to fetch their seeds. We got on well with the hippies – and they gave us plenty of help as well!” recalls Emile with a chuckle.
To start with, his oils were only sold in bulk, both locally and to natural-product wholesalers. The year 1966 was a big milestone: Emile Noël set up his own “factory” to bottle and distribute his oils, particularly to health shops. At home, the scene was vivid and picturesque: “In the basement of our house, my wife and daughters filled the bottles by hand, stuck on the labels and pushed in the stoppers. They bottled 80 litres an hour! I have to tell you, 51% of my success is thanks to my wife,” says Emile, his gaze full of gratitude and love.

These bottled oils opened up new perspectives. Keen travellers, Emile and Andrée drove the length and breadth of France in their 2CV, to present their wares at all the natural-produce fairs: Paris, Colmar, Reims… Their range gradually expanded, and soon Monsieur and Madame Noël were exhibiting in Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid and even Los Angeles. “My wife had dreamt of travelling ever since she was a young girl. We went everywhere – and really enjoyed ourselves!” Emile likes to recall. In France and beyond, the Noël company’s oils stood out: they were virgin oils, natural and “alive”, healthy, tasty and fragrant, compared to the refined oils made by the food industry. Another point in their favour was the attractive image of Provence – its sunshine, soils and culinary savoir-faire.