Feb 1, 2017

Parfums d’Encens
For the love of scent

Mathilde Clément
Parfums d'Encens

Photo credit : Parfums d'Encens

Even though they have been imported from Asia for centuries, it is in the backlands of the Arrée Mountains in the French region of Bretagne that Anne Raffin chose to establish her refinery to produce her own eco-friendly incense sticks.

Anne was always attracted to perfumes, especially the resins that let out the heady scents composing them. Nowadays she is even more interested by their chemical makeup: “I discovered that many ingredients were health hazards, and so I started to make my own incense with natural resins that I harvested myself or bought at natural food stores.”


Photo credit : Parfums d'Encens 

​Anne enrolled in courses on aromatherapy, natural cosmetology, and herbalism. Her passion for history and experimenting with millennial techniques led her to be self-taught in making her products, and in the opening, in 2011, of her brand Parfums d’Encens. “Creating one stick of incense takes from 3 months up to a year of research, tests, failures, successes, and also, sometimes, frustrations”.

Her life-partner Raymond, formerly a jeweler, creates the incense burners, and together they only work with organically farmed plants, especially those grown using biodynamic methods. In this way, they favor local ingredients, and are today the only incense producers who own a certificate of organic production, as well as adhering to the Nature & Progrès green label.

Photo credit: Parfums d'Encens 

The two craftsmen are very attached to a care-based, holistic production process, from transforming dried plant powders into pastes, to drying the sticks on a wood stove, to finally conditioning them for sale by locking the cases with a wax seal. “We also chose to make sticks instead of coal chips, which contain nitrite salts and potassium chlorate, and are usually used more in ritualistic contexts. We wanted to offer an easy-to-use, everyday product.”

“When I create a stick of incense, I tend to assemble plants that interact well and complete each other’s uses, like the relaxing lavender and St John’s wort combination. (…) We have chosen to work with many local plants to explore sometimes forgotten scents but also to demonstrate that you can start with your own region’s riches to create our products.”

A know-how that Anne and Raymond are willing to share, since they welcome visitors in their workshop and hold conferences and courses to learn how to make different kinds of incense.

Photo credit: Parfums d'Encens 

“We are lucky to live in Bretagne, a region that has both a very strong cultural identity, but has always had an eye on the outside thanks to the ocean. (…) Just like yesteryear’s Britons, we travel the roads across France and Belgium to sell our products… And we also know that they go all the way to Japan, whose tradition is based on incense!”


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Mathilde Clément

Mathilde Clément

Made in Clamart. Passionate about art history, Mathilde thrives in creative environments, with a special affinity for the worlds of textile and object design. She puts her pen at the service of the valorization of crafts and materials, in order to bring to the attention of the general public the meaning and the work of artisans and designers from all around the world.

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