When we arrive at the outskirts of the pretty village where we have an appointment, we are struck by the delicacy of the architecture of the houses. Violette’s house is no exception to the rule: its stoop bathed in the soft light of March is like an invitation to discover refined pleasures. It is not very hot, and it is with joy that we settle down by the fireplace in the living room of our hostess of the day. Charming, she offers us to taste violet flowers crystallized in sugar, as a wink to the discussion we are going to start. Born in Egypt a long time ago, the first members of the Violet family, who take their name from the Latin Viola Odorata, went on to explore the world. Today, the Violaceae has no less than 500 branches, spread all over the world. Violet, viola, violaceous…

We then ask the question that burns our lips: is it the name of the flower that comes from the color, or the reverse? The Grand Robert, which she fetches from her library, gives us the answer: the color “violet” is derived from the Old French word viole, itself derived from the Latin viola, which means… violet. Originally, it is the name of the plant that gave the color of its flower. Thus, Violette’s story goes back to the beginnings of human writing. This history has left its mark. Mythological and biblical stories: all make Violette a figure in her own right. From then on, she intervenes in the adventure of Io, young mistress of Zeus transformed into a heifer to preserve her from the wrath of Hera, but who did not like the coarse grasses of the meadows; Violet was thus sent in their place in order to soften her misfortune. In another story, it is by letting herself be intoxicated by the perfume of Violet that Persephone lets herself be seduced and kidnapped by Hades.

It is also found in Genesis: after being expelled from paradise, Adam shows his despair by crying his eyes out. One of them, touching the ground, gives birth to Violet who then becomes the Christian symbol of humility. Violet is therefore also a symbol in many civilizations, or even symbols, sometimes with radically opposite meanings. Thus, while the ancient Greeks invited her near the cradle of newborns to wish them prosperity and happiness, the presence of Violet was a sign of regret, penitence and mourning among the Romans. And if it has disappeared from funeral processions, it can be found in today’s Christianity: it has bequeathed its color to the bishops’ cassocks.

It also accompanied the life of some historical characters: favorite of Marie-Antoinette, sign of rallying for the partisans of Napoleon, Violette is distinguished among the Gods, among the Great, but also among the common men. Thus, in the earthly life of several centuries ago, Violet was appreciated for her herbalist talents. She was entrusted with the care of curing headaches, insomnia, skin diseases or respiratory tract ailments; and the Romans sought comfort from her after their nights of debauchery. Supposedly magical aphrodisiac powers were attributed to it in the Middle Ages: it was therefore customary to sew a few of its petals into the pillow in order to encourage amorous passions. Little by little, it diversified its activities: cooking, confectionery and pastry-making were able to discover its virtues.

In perfumery, Violette has also made a remarkable entry. People of all times appreciate its bewitching and suave perfume, its woody, green and powdery notes. However, it is necessary to specify that Violette has a particularity: a little shy, she does not let herself approach for a long time. After the first breath, its scent slightly anesthetizes the olfactory receptors and it takes a few minutes before you can smell it again. From then on, it is more often its leaves that are used to extract the odorous molecules. Humble, faithful, lively, many qualities have been attributed to this woman of innocent beauty and modest soul. And at the end of this fabulous (and greedy!) afternoon, we would be tempted to add our testimony to the long list of stories praising its merits, so much we enjoyed clarifying with it the many mysteries that surround its history.