Le Panyol History
The roots of Le Panyol lie in Larnage-the land of White Clay, or “Terre Blanche” as it’s known in French culinary lore. Here at the gateway to Provence in “le Drôme,” the story of the world’s only 100% organic wood fired oven core begins with the establishment of a family business.
1840 : The House of Terrassier
The Terrassier family, owners of the “Terre Blanche” quarry at Larnage, first began producing earthenware cooking products and Terre Blanche “brick” ovens (the grandfathers of Le Panyol) at “Tain l’Hermitage” in 1840.
1904: The Tradition
The family business enters the 20th century with a new name, Fournier Terrassier, following the marriage of Paule Marthe Terrassier to Joseph Alfred Fournier. Ovens constructed of the Terre Blanche bricks become the standard throughout France in the best boulangeries and patisseries, among them the world famous Poilâne Bakery.
1964: And on to Fayol
With no direct descendants in the Fournier-Terrassier line, Mr. FAYOL assumes the responsibility of ensuring that the legacy of the wood fired oven par excellence lives on.
Now an enduring tradition of nearly 150 years, the methods of cultivating and producing of the Terre Blanche continue, passing from generation to generation intact. In the 1980’s, the distinct “orange wedge” Le Panyol oven design was born of a desire to make the quality of a Terre Blanche oven available to bakers and gourmets the world over. The modular form allows for ease of shipping and assembly, and is ideal for all applications—from commercial restaurants to the outdoor kitchens of enterprising do-it-yourselfers.
2000: The Tradition Endures
In the new millennium, Le Panyol continues to be the only business in the world to offer a 100% organic, all natural, time-tested wood fired oven. We guard the Terre Blanche and the secrets of our production process vigilantly in order to maintain the integrity of the product.
In 2006 Le Panyol was awarded the title of E.P.V.—Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (or Living Heritage Company) by the French government for the preservation of a traditional craft in the spirit of excellence. This prestigious acknowledgment, bolstered by modern scientific knowledge of the unique thermal properties of the Terre Blanche, secures Le Panyol’s place not only in France’s rich culinary history, but also in its future.
The Terre Blanche de Larnage- THE QUARRY
Terre Blanche: Sensational Soil
At the doorstep of Provence, tucked away at the heart of the Crozes Hermitage vineyards, lies special deposit of clay—the “Terre Blanche” or “White Earth” of Larnage.
This unique material has been refined over the passage of millions of years. It is born of natural elements: abundant sunshine, brisk winds, and the cool, clear water of the ancient streams and rivers of the area.
“Terre Blanche” yields two remarkable things: excellent wine and exceptional earthenware cooking products. It has been the primary element in French culinary ceramics since the Roman era, prized for its exceptional thermal properties and durability.
The “Terre Blanche” of Larnage is not found anywhere else in the world. It is a kaolinic clay of exceptional composition and quality:
Our Treasure, Our Terroir
- The presence of kaolin gives the clay its pure white color.
- High aluminum oxide content makes the clay resistant to heat exceeding 1700° Celsius. It is a perfect natural refractory product.
- Containing no iron oxide, the clay does not distort the taste of food—you can cook directly on the oven floor!
- It is 100% organic, consisting of all natural elements and free of impurities, additives and chemical bonding agents common in cold cast refractory (concrete) ovens.
“Terre Blanche” has been quarried for oven manufacturing since the 19th Century. The White Earth has always made itself readily available to those who mine it with care. Like any precious resource, it is a product of time and must be used conscientiously.
Le Panyol’s careful, calculated methods of harvesting and manufacturing have passed from generation to generation for over 150 years. We are passionate about our heritage and it is a privilege to be able to continue producing wood fired ovens that are true to tradition. Furthermore, we jealously protect our production secrets in order to maintain the integrity of the product.
“Terre Blanche” is quarried without the use of explosives or invasive mining techniques. It is cleansed with pure, clear water—never mixed with other materials or treated with chemicals.
Before firing, the “Terre Blanche” travels just four kilometers to Tain L’Hermitage, and the Le Panyol workshop. Here it is handcrafted into the individual earthenware “elements” that will eventually come together to create a wood fired oven.
Traditional craftsmanship is the secret to achieving and maintaining the highest quality each and every day. Within the historic confines of the Le Panyol workshops, our skilled ceramicists reconstitute the “Terre Blanche” using the components extracted from the quarry. Each individual part of an oven, from the voussoirs to the floor tiles and grog, is created in a specific manner according the purpose it will eventually serve. Finally, the winds of the Rhone Valley slowly dry the pieces before they are later fired at very high temperatures.
Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant-
The artisanal methods and processes used to mix “Terre Blanche” and mould, shape and cut each individual core element have earned Le Panyol the distinction of E.P.V. – Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (or Living Heritage Company). As a hand-made product, each piece is unique giving each Le Panyol its own “fingerprint.”
The World’s Only All Natural Wood Fired Oven
Earth, Water, Wind and Fire combine in every Le Panyol. Only an oven born of a furnace—unique, 100% organic and tempered by fire—can infuse the finest cuisine with the energy and authenticity of a wood fire.