fleurs39geranium-creditirt-emmanuelvirin.jpgFleurs géraniumFleurs géranium© Emmanuel VIRIN
© Emmanuel VIRIN

Bourbon Geranium

A subtle and powerful perfume

Recognised the world over

The greatest perfumers travelled to Reunion Island to hunt down the best geranium essential oil in the world: Bourbon geranium. The perfumeries in Grasse swore by geraniums grown on Reunion Island, which were considered to be of exceptional quality. Back then Bourbon geranium, originally from South Africa, was one of the great treasures of the island.

Today geraniums are still grown, mainly in Saint-Paul (in Guillaume, Petite France, Maïdo, in the highlands in the west of the island), above an altitude of 1,000m. There are a 30 or so craft distilleries in these areas. You can visit these farms which are still in operation, producing essential oil. On the way, you will also find welcoming guest houses and tables d’hôtes.

The distillation process

 

The farmer will passionately explain all the steps in the distillation process, you will be able to join in, maybe enjoy a cup of tea and no doubt leave with a small bottle of this delicate perfume.

The steps of distillation

“The producer plunges the leaves into a still heated with a wood fire. This “cooking” causes the essence to condense into vapour, which is then chilled in another container and then passed through the coil into the “Florentine vase”. This operation takes at least four hours, with the log fire being continually fed by hand”.