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July 14, 2021
Have you ever bought an expensive candle and been disappointed? Maybe it lost its scent after a few burns or left wax unused around the sides, or kept going out? Really annoying isn’t it.
Cire Trudon is the oldest candle company in the world and from my experience, they make the best candles having spent nearly 400 years perfecting them.
Last week I visited the Trudon factory in Normandy to see how it’s all done. Sadly the 17th century facility is no more but in its place, a very functional modern facility with the latest production technology alongside a few 19th Century bits of engineering kit that were still working and productive.
I started buying their candles around twenty years ago when a particular fragrance - Spiritus Sancti evoked powerful childhood memories of the incense burner my Greek Orthodox mother used to carry aloft around the house. I burnt the largest, 3kg Grand Bougie, version of this fragrance at Christmas time and even when it came to its end five years later, the fragrance was still as strong. That can’t be said for most other candles that skimp on perfume, the most expensive ingredient. Up to 14% of the volume in a Cire Trudon candle is premium quality fragrance which partly explains the premium price.
These fragrances are developed in partnership with renowned perfumers with utmost care and patience. Another reason behind the price tag, are the beautiful handmade Italian glass containers, each one unique. Yet another, the high quality wax, and the fact that the cotton wicks are very carefully adapted to match the unique burn characteristics of each fragranced wax and container size. The candle doesn’t tunnel as it burns as so many others do, leaving heaps of unburnt wax around the sides of the glass. No, with a Trudon candle I can trust I’ll get my money’s worth all the way down to the bottom, then reuse the glass container for tea lights or flowers.
Claude Trudon started selling candles in Rue Saint Honore - Paris in 1643, the year Louis XIV (The Sun King) was crowned King of France at the age of 4. He is still Europe’s longest reigning Monarch, at 72 years, with Queen Elizabeth II in fourth place just now at 69+ years.
At the time, wax was very carefully collected from beehives, then cleansed and whitened through a series of water baths. It was later cut into strips and dried in open air baths. The sunlight also helped to whiten the wax. Because of their extreme purity the Trudon candles provided a magnificent glow. One single candle would cost the equivalent of a day’s wage for the average man so only the wealthy would be able to afford these. Cheaper candles would be made from tallow (animal fat) but would smell less pleasant than an indoor barbecue.
In 1737 they became La Manufacture Royale de Cire (the Royal Wax Manufacturer) supplying the Royal Court of Louis XV, and the most prominent churches in the Paris region. The vast Palace of Versaille would have been kept aglow with Trudon candles.
Trudon is part of the Perche regional Nature Park where the mission is to protect the environment through actions that help preserve its biodiversity and raise awareness of the local heritage. The Park’s main grounds house the heart of the conservancy program with 12 beehives.
In partnership with the local Orne Dark Bee Conservatory, Maison Trudon helps protect the European dark bee, an endemic species and an essential link in the region’s biodiversity chain, but threatened by intensive agriculture and industrial beekeeping practices.
The main goal is to monitor the genetic pool of the local dark bee populations, in conditions that resemble as closely as possible life in the wild. This commitment seeks to guarantee the bee’s presence as a vital pollinator and the gradual reintroduction of this hardy species.
“I believe that contributing to the protection of a species as vital to life and symbolic of our Maison, but unfortunately greatly endangered, is a duty. For centuries we have benefitted from the work of bees. Today it is essential that we commit, in concrete terms, and contribute to raising public awareness.”Julien Pruvost, Creative Director of Maison Trudon
Maison Trudon feels as strongly as the Orne Dark Bee Conservatory about the values of conservation and good beekeeping practices. The partnership comes as the perfect illustration of Cire Trudon’s moto since 1643: “Deo regique laborant,” or “They (the bees) work for God and the King.”
Their constant innovations have kept them at the forefront of candle making and their artisan workshop in Normandy supplies a small selection of prestigious retailers around the world, including us, I’m very pleased to say. We have over 20 beautiful fragrances and they make the perfect gift.
After 400 years Cire Trudon finally launched their own luxurious version of room diffusers, all shaped out of the same emblematic green glass and adorned with a gold emblem. These last up to six months and are easily refillable at around half the original cost.
New to the range are two scents, Madurai and Reggio, in beautiful blue glass which evoke essences of Indian Jasmine and hints of Citrus from Calabria.
The Cire scented candle is an olfactory representation of the craft, symbolically blending emanations of warm wax and perfumes. Maison Trudon contributes 4 percent of all sales of the Cire candle toward the bee conservation project.
Michael Van Clarke
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