The story of Arkopharma Laboratories began in 1980, in the heart of the Alpes-Maritimes region in the Var Valley, between the Mediterranean coast and the high peaks further inland (Mercantour). The company planted its roots in a region that is perfectly adapted to its founding principles. Arkopharma Laboratories has been growing and thriving in this region for more than 35 years now.
The diversity of the company’s natural healthcare products is reflected in that of the Alpes-Maritime region, characterized by its biodiversity.
It’s quite breathtaking to consider that, of the 4,900 flowering plant species native to France (in other words, which have not been introduced or adapted), this “département” alone contains over 3,000 of those species (that’s over 60% of this incredible diversity). By comparison, the average French “département” is home to between 1,000 and 1,300 such species.
Thanks to its prized location at the crossroads between the Alps and the Mediterranean, this region benefits from a mixture of alpine, Provençal, Mediterranean and Ligurian influences, between sea level and the Cime du Gélas (3143 m), and constitutes the only place in Europe in which all these levels of vegetation can be found together.
The array of medicinal Arctic-alpine and subalpine species, such as rhodiola, bearberry, yellow gentian and arnica, together with others of Mediterranean origin, including thyme, lavender, chaste trees and olive trees, bear witness to this unique biodiversity.
This vast botanical wealth is accompanied by 200 rare species, including Ligurian gentian, Potentilla Valderia and Nigritella rose. And on top of all that, the region boasts around 40 specific species classified as “endemic” (species that are only found in this part of the world). To name but one, the “multi-flowering” saxifrage (Saxifraga florulenta) is unique in that it flowers only once at the end of its long life of between 40 and 70 years. It can be found at the heart of the Mercantour National Park, which covers a surface area of 685 sq.km, that’s 15% of the “département’s” total surface area! Overlapping France and Italy, the Mediterranean Alps, which span the administrative regions of PACA in France and Piedmont and Liguria in Italy, have applied for UNESCO world heritage status.
Many medicinal plants found in the wild or grown for consumption are incorporated into the product ranges offered by Arkopharma.
This rich natural heritage is offset by the treasure trove of ornamental and museum gardens that adorn the coast between the towns of Menton and Antibes. Four botanical gardens are particularly worthy of mention: Val Rahmeh in Menton (belonging to the Paris Natural History Museum), the gardens of the Carnolès Palace in Menton (housing Europe’s largest collection of citrus trees), Villa Les Cèdres in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat (a private garden spanning 14 hectares, boasting more than 14,000 mostly tropical plant species) and Villa Thuret in Antibes (a garden now run by the INRA research institute). The region’s vast array of ornamental gardens includes, to name just a few, Serre de la Madone garden in Menton, the gardens surrounding the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Parc Phœnix in Nice.
Various types of cultures coexist side-by-side in the PACA and Provence regions: cultivation of ornamental plants along the coast, fragrant plants in the area surrounding Grasse, including Mouans-Sartoux (the gardens of the International Perfume Museum), and fragrant and aromatic plants such as lavender, lavandin, clary sage and thyme.
In this rich environment combining nature and man-made beauty, vegetation is omnipresent in all its splendid diversity: It was therefore entirely “natural” that ARKOPHARMA Laboratories should set up home here, and continue developing and producing its plant-based healthcare remedies in this region of outstanding beauty.