In Paris, How Sweet It Is


A beekeeping friend asked me to visit a couple of honey stores (La Maison du Miel and Les Ruchers du Roy) in Paris recently, opening the doors to a subculture of beekeeping—apiculture—that I had no idea existed. Oh, I had tasted my share of artisanal, organic honeys and become fascinated with the whole idea of apitherapy (healing with products from the honeybee hive), but to find a beekeeping school deep within the green confines of the Luxembourg gardens was indeed an eye-opener.

The buzz was on, and soon I found that bees are kept everywhere in Paris—on the roof of Garnier Opera, for example, where Jean Pauton has been tending hives for 20 years. He sells the honey in tiny jars at the store in the Opera and also at Fauchon. (Look for Miel recolte sure les toits de l'Opera de Paris by Jean Pauton.) I found the honey to be, well, honey colored, but others call it red and swear that the redness comes from the grenadine that the bees sip from the glasses of the clients at nearby Cafe de la Paix. Hives are also found in the Tuileries, in the gardens of the Palais Royal, and in numerous squares around town. Flavors vary according to which trees, like chestnut and acacia, flourish near the hives. Even Hotel Eiffel Park, a Best Western, boasts of hives on its roof. So far, no one has been stung, and guests can choose to spread the rooftop honey on their breakfast croissants.

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