We arrived at the four-star A Cheda hotel near Bonifacio for our workshop, which has a focus on well-being and the environment. It boasts a pool, Jacuzzi and spa offering beauty treatments, a vegetable garden, solar panels, ‘App e-Bike’ electric bike rental and Tesla terminals for charging electric cars. The eco concept of the establishment is clear to see.
I think I'll have a good time!
The oils workshop is led by Michèle Pantalacci of the U Listincu distillery, located in the foothills of the Ortolo Valley in Corsica’s extreme south. Having worked there for over a decade, Michèle speaks with passion about the different processes in organic and biodynamic agriculture, and about working in harmony with the earth and following the lunar calendar. A dozen people are present, from total novices to oil connoisseurs, and the atmosphere is relaxed.
Michèle begins with a cognitive workshop introducing erba santa, lavender, Ligurian achilles, immortelle, wild carrots, myrtle. Wonderful scents fill the room and she reveals the particular uses of each: abdominal pains, hormonal imbalance, heavy legs, jellyfish stings and bruises. I’m surprised to learn that essential oils also have an emotional power and that they can help relieve feelings of intolerance, jealousy and even illness anxiety.
Michèle goes on to explain the distillation process and we’re fascinated to see how each ‘cuvée’ is unique. The quantity of aromatic plants necessary for distillation is mind-boggling: 100kg of immortelle for just 150-200ml of oil; 100kg of lavender stems for 350ml of oil. But the results are worth it.
I ask Michèle if the oils can also be used as beauty products – and indeed, they can be mixed with day creams and are particularly effective for skin toning and firming. They’re also often used in massage oils and perfumes.