Learn the fascinating history of the Baptistine rose at the Maison de la Rose in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. In L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue the gardens are in bloom in May.
Roseline Giorgis is the breeder of a new rose, the Baptistine. Her father, a perfumer from Grasse, was responsible for monitoring the production quality of the 'absolutes' of the Rose-pays in Grasse, for Guerlain. For the sake of the love of her life – the Baptistine – Roseline takes on all sorts of roles: she created a garden in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue where some 3,500 rose plants grow; she works as a chemist at her Maison de la Rose (House of the Rose) in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse; she is a brand ambassador for Centifolia; and she cooks rose petals.
She has painted, studied and cultivated roses all her life.
When she was a little girl, instead of rolling around in piles of dead leaves she rolled around in rose petals. So when her father gave her a rose bush for her 14th birthday, she took great care of it. And it is no coincidence that it has survived because, today, Roseline devotes her whole life to it. She says she is "on a mission".
After the INRA had conducted extensive research on the precious plant, she was finally granted the patent acknowledging her proprietary and exploitation rights as its creator. And so Centifolia Baptistine Giorgis was born. It comes from a long line of famous Centifolia roses from Grasse that have been cultivated there for the perfume industry since the 18th century. The plant's lush pink flowers are made up of exactly 106 petals. And the bushy, bowed plant, which grows to a metre tall, sports clusters of between 5 and 12 blooms. It blossoms abundantly during the whole month of May.
Having obtained the patent, breeder Roseline Giorgis saw a whole new future open up before her eyes. In 2004, she founded the Rose des Arts Association, so that she could bring all of her burgeoning ideas to life. It currently has 200 members.
Roseline and her Baptistine rose enjoy the perfect setting. Some 20 years ago, Rosaline was in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse and, by sheer chance, the village's most beautiful house was up for sale. The magnificent sculpted façade of the small 19th-century mansion was a trove of hidden treasures. On the side of the house, a conservatory and a wrought-iron terrace open onto the nearby Sorgue. This is where our rose-lover set up her laboratory, fragrance library, 60-litre distillery and all of her travel souvenirs.
In 2010, Roseline brought her workshop and laboratory up to AFSSAPS standards and, having purchased a still, she was finally able to start doing her own distilling. It goes without saying that her rose water is made with Fontaine-de-Vaucluse's pure, crystal-clear water. The water is captured right at the source, in the hollow of the Fontaine Rock, or is drawn from the 11-metre-deep well at her house. It takes 100 kilos of roses to make just three litres of rose water. But Roseline doesn't stop there. Instead, she puts on her lab coat and sets to work creating. Her beloved rose always provides the foundation for her creations, which range from balm, beauty cream and eye cream to perfume, massage oils, perfumed soap and more. By means of fractional distillation, she obtains her Eau Riche ('Rich Water' – with anti-oxidant properties) from (three tonnes) of roses. Thanks to her hard work and to the tremendous qualities of this rose, inherited from a distant past in Grasse, she is able to obtain the Baptistine's most precious gift: rose absolute (1 kg at the end of the process). The perfume industry makes frequent use of absolutes during the creation process, although in the tiniest amounts. And this is why, in an effort to build a future for her rose, Roseline is once again turning her attention to her home town of Grasse and knocking on the doors of the great perfumers.
In the meantime, Roseline likes to share her passion, opening her home to visitors in order to do so. She does regular distilling demonstrations, as well as making candied rose petals. Among the many activities on offer, you can discover the history of dog roses, Centifolia roses and the Baptistine (aptly named 'the perfumer's rose'), as well as simple and wild roses. And you can learn about the different uses given to the petals in perfumery, therapeutics, gastronomy and symbolism. Here, you have the opportunity to sniff tincture of benzoin, hydrolates and essential oils and, in season, you can even participate in the distillation process and learn all about the raw materials used to make a perfume.
Roseline also organises cookery classes using herbs and flowers. Culinary products include such items as condiments, herb salt and scented sugar, as well as candied rose petals, jellied roses, syrups, liqueurs, confectionery, chocolates and vinegar.
Roseline takes off her lab coat and puts on her gardener's overalls. Over the past two years, our rose-lover has created a magnificent garden... and, of course, it's full of roses. Springtime will see 3,500 rose bushes in full bloom, including 1,200 grafted onto Laxa and Indica Major.
It was the Community of Communes of the Pays des Sorgues Monts de Vaucluse that enabled this plot of land (currently one hectare in size but soon to be expanded to two hectares) to be let to the Rose des Arts Association. Six experimental and production spaces have been planted in very close proximity to L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. The approach is organic, as you would expect. Here, close attention is paid to the insects and plants that share the roses' environment.
Roseline has all sorts of plans for this space, including opening it to the general public and schools and offering tours, harvesting and gardening lessons.
Participants in her summer workshops can learn about landscapes, bouquets and botany and try their hand at pruning, cutting and sowing. Plants available to purchase include dog roses, climbing pompom roses and simple Grasse Centifolia roses.
The gardens are open to the public every morning from 10 am to 1 pm and by appointment in the afternoon. Closed on Sundays.
The flowers are harvested in springtime, from 15 May to 15 June.
As a tribute to Guerlain, the Rose des Arts laboratory is offering a new creation in its Gastronomy range. A very special and innovative chocolate that highlights all of the subtleness of the Baptistine, a rose that is new to the Grasse perfume industry and that is cultivated on one hectare of land in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, under the ECOCERT label.
The candied roses are dipped in dark chocolate in order to delicately coat them and blend the perfume of this most regal of flowers with the delicious taste of pure cocoa. Give them a try and share them (or not!).
Available by mail order / For prices and delivery details, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Boutique and showroom at the Maison de la Rose in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, open from Thursday to Saturday.