NICOLAS GEANT Urban Honey: keeping bees in Paris

Paris city rooftop honey

Honey is a typical product you find at any French market. We count many honey varieties based on flowers bees gather pollen from. Each one is unique and has its own specificities. For decades, beekeeping was a forgotten practice in the city but since a few years, a new interest for urban honey is rising. Nicolas Geant is a beekeeper like no other. He takes care of  beehives installed on Paris most famous rooftops such as Grand Palais, Vuitton or La Tour d’Argent restaurant. I was naturally interested in meeting him to know more about this honey from Paris. We had the opportunity to meet at his beekeeping shop in Buc, Versailles.

Beekeeping Grand Palais, Paris

Nicolas Geant has made beekeeping his main activity for 6 years. He’s been passionate for 30 years. “After 20 years working for major companies, I wanted to get back to my passion: beekeeping. I discovered the activity at the age of 15 in a junior club. It helped me pay for my studies. Then, I started to work and still had few beehives but just for fun. Few years ago, I decided I wanted to do it for a leaving. I first intended to go in Argentina. But my wife who supported my project didn’t want to leave France and the city. That’s how I started beekeeping in Paris.” he said.

If urban beekeeping is getting a new popularity, it was abandoned for decades in urban areas. Although it was a very popular activity until the 1950’s. “Our grandparents all had beehives in their garden as well as they were keeping hens and rabbits. Honey played the role of sugar in the kitchen nowadays.” Nicolas adds. An activity that was threatened in the 19th century with introduction of beetroot sugar. But Napoleon Bonaparte contributed to honey  resurgence by making the bee an Empire symbol with the eagle. This was until the 1950’s when massive beetroot sugar production dropped the prices really low and made it an affordable, effort-less kitchen help.

What to know about Paris honey?

Paris honey is unique. Like wines, each kind of honey has its own qualities and attributes and it varies from one year to the other such as a vintage year. “Paris honey is neither better, neither worst than any other.” Nicolas confides us. He adds ” The main flavors are lime blossom, black wood and Japanese pagoda tree. You’ll get also some flavor that you would not expect such as orange or lemon tree. Citizens like to get them on their terrace and balcony.”

With all this kind of honey – I wasn’t aware they were so many – it’s easy to get lost. Don’t worry, it’s not so complicated. You just have to know some of the basics – or simply ask your honey producer – to make it right. Nicolas gives us two examples with black wood honey and chestnut’s. “A black wood honey works perfectly with yogurt but not with an orange roasted duck. You would rather prefer a chestnut ‘s one that is more powerful.  A bit too much for a child to eat on sliced bread. He will probably not like it”

Another interesting fact about honey is that it’s 30% less calorie than sugar and can put less for the same sweetness. Nicolas only has honey in his kitchen and no sugar. What about you now?

Where to buy or taste honey from Paris?

You can find Paris honey  at some markets in Paris. Also here are two locations where you can buy or taste honey directly made there.

Patrick Roger chocolatier

Saint Germain, 
108 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris
Open 7/7 – except on Sunday 07/27
Opening hours: 10.30 am – 7.30 pm

La Tour d’Argent

Restaurant de La Tour d’Argent
15 quai de la Tournelle
75005 Paris
Tel : +33 (0)1.43.54.23.31
resa@latourdargent.com

Metro : Pont-Marie

Closed on Sunday and Monday and in August

 

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3 thoughts on “NICOLAS GEANT Urban Honey: keeping bees in Paris

  1. I will be in Paris August 15-18 and would love to see some hives. I am president of the Chatham County Beekeepers in Pittsboro North Carolina. The different honeys mentioned sound wonderful. Because the survival rates are much better in the city and honey production is higher, I am intrigued. The county I live in has mostly organic farms, but some hobbiest have still had high losses over our mild winter. I lost no hives, but I am the exception. Please let me know if you can help me locate bee yards to tour. I believe I can see the apiary at Luxembourg Gardens. Thanks, Pat

    • Hi Pat. I’m travelling and have poor internet access. Nicolas Geant has a shop in Parisian suburb (nicomiel) so you could easily reach him to get some information. He’s passionate, I’m sure he’ll be happy to help. I know he settled hives at La Tour d’argent restaurant and also in a famous chocolate shop in Paris. If you ask you should probably be able to see them. Hope this helps and you get the best of your visit in Paris !

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