The Quarry

"Terre Blanche" - Sensational Soil

Tucked away on Provence's doorstep and at the heart of the Crozes Hermitage vineyards, a region rich in tastes, smells and flavours, the "Terre Blanche" or "White Earth" quarry deposit was formed several million years ago. The "Terre Blanche" Le Panyol work with has since been refined by the passage of time and the elements: abundant sunshine, occasionally brisk winds and ancient streams and rivers so common to the area.

Used for thousands of years to produce pottery for cooking, "Terre Blanche" has been a prime element of cooking ceramics in France since the Roman era.

Refined Soil, Unique Clay

The "Terre Blanche" from Larnage is unique, a kaolinic clay of exceptional quality. For centuries "Terre Blanche's" unique assets and natural composition have made it indispensable to cookery, thanks to the bricks and potteries of Larnage. Benefits include:

  • The presence of Kaolin gives the clay it's white colour.
  • High aluminium oxide content makes the clay resistant to heat exceeding 1630°C. It is a refractory clay.
  • Containing no iron oxide, the clay doesn't distort the taste of food.
Le Panyol Heritage

Although "Terre Blanche" has been used to produce ovens and refractory earthenware products since the 19th Century, Le Panyol's quarry is the only one still in use for this type of production. With centuries of tradition behind them, Le Panyol is passionate about their heritage and thrilled to carry on producing earthenware goods using the "Terre Blanche" of Larnage.

A Clay to Preserve

Located directly on the surface of the land, "Terre Blanche" has always made itself readily available to those who mine it with care. Being a rare product of time, Le Panyol know that it is in their interest to preserve these deposits and restrict their use so others can benefit from their advantages in the future. What's more, they are committed to keeping the traditional knowledge of production alive, without upsetting the delicate balance between humankind and nature.

100% Natural

Every time "Terre Blanche" is removed, Le Panyol endeavor to do it with care, without damaging it and without using explosives.First it is cleaned with simple clear water. Neither crushed, treated or mixed with other materials, it is then sorted according to different sizes to optimise it's use. Once the "Terre Blanche" is removed it makes its way down to Le Panyol's workshops in Tain L'Hermitage, to create earthenware.

The Manufacturing Process

In the confines of the workshops, with the knowledge of their potters, "Terre Blanche" is reconstructed from different components extracted from the quarry depending on how it will be used in the future and what products it will be used to create. This is how Le Panyol produce different forms of earthenware every day to be sold and used in different ways: Le Panyol ovens, bricks, grog, tiles, etc.

Age-old methods and processes are used to mix "Terre Blanche" with water and to mould, shape and cut it by hand. Slowly dried by the winds of the Rhone Valley, the pieces made from "Terre Blanche" are later fired at very high temperatures. As they are hand-made each core piece of your Le Panyol oven is unique and 100% natural.

In 2006, this know-how and craftsmanship were rewarded when Le Panyol was awarded the title E.P.V. – Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (or Living Heritage Company).