When I read last week that the eponymous luxury company, Louis Vuitton, was harvesting honey from hives on the rooftop of its Champs-Elysées flagship, I imagined eager tourists swarming to purchase little monogrammed jars of miel, along with the latest “it” bag.
It turns out that Louis Vuitton’s latest product will only be shared with “friends,” however —and the designer’s not even close to a trendsetter in the Paris beehive business.
There are hives on top of the Opéra Garnier and the glass-domed Grand Palais. Even on top of the modern Opéra Bastille, homebase of Paris’s national opera. The beehives in the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens have been there since the mid-19th century and now produce half a ton of honey every year. It goes on sale each September for just two days and is a favorite gift item for French senators (the Senate is housed in the Luxembourg Palace). The beehive count across Paris is around 300 — with hives in public parks, on private rooftops, and on the grounds of a hospital run by the good Sisters of the Visitation. But the location that most intriqued me was the National Veterinary Museum (in line with that very Paris tradition of having a museum to just about everything). [David Lebovitz‘s Living the Sweet Life in Paris blog has more on this and the French passion for local honey.]
The bees of Paris are productive little buggers too. About three times as productive as their country cousins, according to the National Union of French Beekeepers…
Why? Well, the warmer urban climes lead to earlier breeding. And pesticides and chemicals are banned from use in all Paris parks and gardens — and have been for a decade.
Now, how sweet is that?
There’s a Paris-based photographer named Éric Tourneret who travels the world photographing bees and their hives. He’s got some spectacular shots of the beehives and beekeepers of Paris.