What is the difference between the Fleur de Sel, and the Gros Sel?
They both come from the same water. However they are both very different.
So many differences set them apart. The first being their price. The Fleur de Sel is a luxury item when the Gros sel is for most French a necessity.
The harvest is also very different. The Fleur de Sel crystallise at the top of the water in the “Maraits Salants”.
First the water evaporate, and then at the bottom crystals are formed: Gros sel.
But when the perfect weather conditions are around, the wind blows just a bit, not too much, and usually from the East,then a very thin coat looking like powder sugar appears on top of the water. It is a very sensitive coat that can drowned very easily with the dew of morning.
To harvest it, it is a very labor intensive system. It is at night-time, that the Fleur de sel is harvested. It is an extremely delicate affair, because it can not to sink. If it does it is lost!
A look-alike rake with a piece of wood attached to it is placed under the Fleur de sel and being moved gently.
There is less than a centimetre between the fleur de sel and the bottom so it has to be a very precise job, to not get the Fleur de Sel dirty with the bottom of the water, and dirt. Women are usually used for this process because they are very precise and calm.
Men come afterwards to do the harvest of the gros sel with a regular rake.