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Honey from France

The appreciation of the French for honey and their high regard for bees is rooted deeply within their history.

Much of what is now France, and indeed most of Western Europe, was originally occupied by the ancient Celtic civilization of Gauls. Bees had been important to the Celts for mead, honey and wax, and beekeeping (in addition to wild honey gathering) by Gauls may have begun with the influence of the Greeks in the late 5th and 6th centuries BC, or perhaps with the occupation by Rome in the 1st to 5th centuries AD. Farming and beekeeping skills were passed on through the fall of the Roman Empire and the Germanic invasions of the Merovingian Dynasty of the Franks that began with the conquests of Clovis in the mid-5th century, and ended with the final expansion of the great medieval king, Charlemagne in the mid 9th century.

Historians speculate the ruin of Charlemagne’s empire in 843 triggered the creation of Germanic and French kingdoms and became the starting point in the history of France as an independent state.

We can thank Charlemagne’s penchant for organization that produced the earliest written documentation of beekeeping. Charlemagne’s Capitularies (rules/laws) from around 794 AD specify estate management and revenue collection rules for royal estates. He specifies a beekeeper be assigned to each estate and a tally of income from honey, wax and mead be kept.

Merovingian Bees (Childeric Bees)

The early Merovingians were fascinated by bees. Discovered in the Merovignian tomb of Childeric I, the father of Clovis, in 1653 by a mason working on the reconstruction of the church of Saint-Brice in Tournai, were several gold items including 300 golden bees.

The Merovignian Bees influenced Napoleon, who, looking for a heraldic symbol different from the fleur-de-lys, used them as an inspiration for his own personal symbol and were incorporated into the Coat of Arms of the new Napoleonic French empire.

Regions of France

Regions of France

France is divided into 22 regions and every one produces honey. The largest producer is the Rhone-Alps region and the smallest is the island of Corsica. France has one of the oldest and best managed honey industries in the world.

Other French Regions:

Island of Corsica
Guadeloupe and Martinique Islands
Reunion Island
Mayotte
French Guiana

Honey from France

Single Flower Honey – Miel de Cru

  • Acacia honey – ‘Miel d’acacia’ (Robinia pseudoacacia L.)
  • Alfalfa Honey – ‘Miel de luzerne’ (Medicago sativa L.)
  • Arborea Heather Honey (aka White Heather Honey)- ‘Miel de bruyère blanche or Miel de Bruyère Erica arborea’ (Erica arborea)
  • Asphodel Honey – ‘Miel d’asphodèle’ (Asphodelus)(Location: Corsica)
  • Blackberry Honey (aka Bramble Honey) – ‘Miel de ronce’ (rubus ssp.)
  • Buckwheat honey – ‘Miel de sarrasin’ (Fagopyrum esculentum)
  • Carrot Honey – ‘Miel de carotte’ (Daucus Carota)
  • Cherry Honey – ‘Miel de cerisier’ (Prunus ssp.)
  • Chestnut honey – ‘Miel de châtaignier’ (Castanea sativa Mill)
  • Clemintine Honey – ‘Le miel de clémentinier’ (Citrus reticulata or C. Clementina)(Location: Corsica)
  • Clover honey – ‘Miel de trèfle’ (Trifolium ssp.)
  • Dandelion Honey – ‘Miel de pissenlit’ (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Erica Cinerea Heather honey – ‘Miel de bruyère cendrée or Miel de Bruyère Erica cinerea or Miel de bruyère erica’ (Erica cinerea)
  • Eucalyptus Honey – ‘Miel d’eucalyptus’ (Eucalyptus ssp.)
  • Fennel Honey – ‘Miel de fenouil’ (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Hawthorn Honey – ‘Miel d’aubépine’ (Crataegus monogyna)
  • Heather Honey (aka LIng Heather Honey or Common Heather Honey) – ‘Miel de bruyère callune or Miel de bruyère commune’ (Caluna vulgaris)
  • Alder Honey (aka Buckthorn Honey) – ‘Miel de bourdaine’ (Rhamnus frangula)
  • Holly Honey – ‘Miel de houx’ (Ilex aquifolium)
  • Ivy Honey – ‘Miel de lierre’ (Hedera helix)
  • Lavender Honey Try this - Exceptional – ‘Miel de lavande or Miel de lavandin’ (Lavandula ssp., Lavandula officinalis, Lavandula x intermedia)
  • Lemon Honey – ‘Miel de citronnier’ (Citrus ssp.)
  • Linden – ‘Miel de tilleul’ (Tilia americana)
  • Metcalfa Honeydew Honey – ‘Miel de metcalfa’ (From insect: Metcalfa pruinosa)
  • Oak Honeydew Honey – ‘Miel de chêne or Miel de forêt’ (Quercus ssp.)
  • Orange Honey – ‘Miel d’oranger’ (Citrus ssp.)
  • Phacelia Honey – ‘Miel de phacelie’ (Phacelia tanacetifolia Benth.)
  • Pine Honeydew or Spruce Honeydew – ‘Miel de sapin or Miel d’épicéa’ (Pinus brutia)
  • Rape Honey or Spring Honey – ‘Miel de colza or Miel de printemps’ (Brassica napus)
  • Raspberry Honey – ‘Miel de framboisier’ (Rubus idaeus)
  • Rhododendron Honey – ‘Miel de rhododendron’ (Rhododendron ssp.)
  • Rosemary Honey Try this - Exceptional – ‘Miel de romarin’ (Rosmarinus officinalis) – (Other notes: Also called “Honey Narbonne,” was regarded by the Romans as the best honey in the world. Although, strictly speaking, this honey was harvested in late Spring from the Garrigue (wild hillside) and is a mix of rosemary, thyme and lavender honey with moorland blooms, and was not mainly rosemary. It is available now from earlier spring harvests that generally produce purer rosemary honey. It is mainly produced in the Corbières)
  • Sainfoin Honey – ‘Miel de sainfoin’ (Onobichrys vicifolia)
  • Savory Honey – ‘Miel de sarriette’ (Satureja ssp., Satureja montana L.)
  • Silver Fir Honey – ‘Miel de sapin pectine or Miel de sapin des vosges’ (Abies pectinata or Abies alba, insect: Cinara genus)
  • Stoechas Lavender Honey (aka Spanish Lavender Honey) – ‘Miel de Lavande Stoechas or Miel de Lavande Maritime’ (Lavandula stoechas)
  • Strawberry Tree Honey. – ‘Miel d’arbousier’ (Arbutus unedo L.)
  • Sunflower – ‘Miel de tournesol’ (Helianthus annuus L.)
  • Thistle Honey – ‘Miel de chardons’ (Cardus ssp.)
  • Thyme Honey – ‘Miel de thym’ (Thymus ssp.)
  • Wild Thyme Honey Try this - Exceptional – ‘Miel de serpolet or Miel de thym sauvage or Miel de thym serpolet’ (Thymus serpilum)
  • Willow Honey – ‘Miel de saule’ (Salix caprea)

Multifloral Honey – Miel Polyfloral

  • Honey of the Plateau – ‘Miel de causse’ (Mainly from; wild thyme, sainfoin, blackberry and clover) (Location: Produced mainly in the Causses of Mejean, Larzac and Quercy. The Causses are limestone plateaus on the Massif Central region of France, primarily in the regions of Auvergne & Limousin. Other variations: ‘Miel de causse Méjean’)
  • Garrigue Honey – ‘Miel de garrigue’ (Including rosemary, thyme, savory, white clover, blackberry and lavender) (From the Mediterranean regions of Languedoc-Roussillon & Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. Garrigue ‘scrubland’ describes geological/botanical areas around the Mediterranean. Characterized by limestone plateaus interspersed with valleys and basins; wet winters and hot, dry summers; shrubs and herbaceous plants with different species dominating, depending upon the location and use of the land. Ranging from open garrigues suitable to grazing goats, to closing garrigues transforming to forests, dominated by shrub and possibly the beginnings of oak and juniper. Other variations: ‘Miel de Garrigue des Pyrenees, Miel de Garrigue d’Automne’)
  • Forest Honey (aka Deciduous or Hardwood Forest Honey) – ‘Miel de forêt or Miel de feuillus’ (Nectar of lime, clover and honeydew of maples, ash and linden trees)
  • High Mountain Honey – ‘Le miel de haute montagne’ (Mainly rhododendron and wild thyme) (Produced mainly in the Western Pyrenees at an altitude of 2,000 meters in the Pays de La Loire region. This was once known as Miel de Chamonix, a premium honey, named after the small alpine town that actually produced very little of it)
  • Mountain Honey – ”Le miel de montagne’ (main: raspberry, blueberry, clover, knapweed (centaurea ssp.), trefoil (lotus ssp.), hawthorn (crataegus ssp.), wild cherry (prunus avium) and basswood – variable: fir honeydew, hogweed (heracleum ssp), erica, buckwheat (polygonum ssp.), buckthorn, forget-me-not (myosotis ssp.), thyme, widow flower (knautia ssp.), scabious (scabious ssp.), bellflower (campanula ssp.), rock rose (cistus ssp.), fireweed, dandelion) (Honey from various mountainous regions over 1000 meters above sea level: Alps, Pyrenees, Massif Central, Jura, Vosges. May be light (clair) or dark (foncé) depending upon composition.)
  • Spring Honey – ‘Miel de printemps’ (Rapeseed (Brassica napus) fruit trees, sainfoin, willow, alfalfa, hawthorn, dandelion) (Harvest late May to early June. Miel de printemps is actually brand name)
  • Summer Honey – ‘Miel d’été’ (acacia, clover, phacelia (phacelia ssp.), mulberry (morus ssp.), honey dew)
  • Country Honey – ‘Miel du pays’ ()

Try this - Exceptional – Exceptional or Rare Honey

Marks of quality and origin

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Fisheries oversees the National Institute for Origin and Quality (INAO). INAO is responsible for management of all identification marks of quality and origin.

Quality Labels France - AOC, AOC, IGP, Label Rouge, STG, AB, AB

Honey of Corsica – ‘Miel de Corse’ (AOC)
Fir Honeydew of Vosges – ‘Miel de sapin des Vosges’ (PDO)
Honey of Provence – ‘Meil de Provence’ (PGI, Red Label – ‘Label Rouge’)

France Honey

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    Resources and Further Reading:

    The Capitularies of Charlemagne: Capitulare De Villis and Brevium exempla – translations of the documents.
    History of France: Ancient Frank History
    The Merovingian Kingdoms, 450-751 by author Ian Wood, publisher: Longman. Abstract
    A Note on Childeric’s Bees
    The Bees of Napoleon by Kathryn Kane
    Federation of Red Label (FLR) – French
    Honeys of Provence – French
    France Consumer Code for honey Google Translated to English
    Garrigue Wiki – French
    Agricultural Tourism France

    22 comments to France Honey

    • mohammed

      am from saudi arabia
      I’m looking to miel de garrigue Liquid if you have how i can request

    • HT

      Hi Mohammed:

      I don’t carry honey, but if you do a search in Google for “miel de garrique” you will find several french companies that carry it. Looking now, I find that http://www.miel-du-sud.fr has a wonderful variety, including miel de garrique. Please let me know if you liked it!

      …scott

    • Laura

      My father brought honey back from his WW 2 reunion in France.It was the best honey I have ever tasted ! The label read Miel Georges Johner Apicuiteur 31 rue de Kindwiller 67350 La Walck . I am not good searching on line but I did try and came up with nothing! can you help? thank you for your time, Laura

    • Laura:

      France is the source of some of the best honey in the world! The address on the honey is in Alsace, France. Alsace has an ancient tradition of beekeeping that is recorded as far back as the seventh century. Your Dad’s honey was likely produced by an amature beekeeper. Of over 2,500 beekeepers in Alsace, only 25 are professionals. The major honeys of Alsace are, Pine honey, forest honey, acacia, multifloral, chestnut, and linden. Almost all of these are strong honeys with the exception of the acacia and perhaps the multifloral.

      Was the reunion recent? Your Dad must be among the very few left who fought there. You must be very proud of him!

      …Scott

    • Margaret

      Hello, Scott! I’m currently writing an honors thesis about bees in France, specifically the link between linguistic evolution and cultural importance, and your website has been a great tool. I was hoping you might be able to provide me with some sources for your statistics on honey production in France. If possible, could you direct me toward statistics which break down honey production by region, stating in numbers that the Rhone-Alpes region produces the most honey? Part of my thesis relies upon the south of France being the greater producer of honey in the country. Thank you so much in advance!

      Best regards, Margaret O.

    • Hi Margaret:

      Your best bet is here:
      http://www.agreste.agriculture.gouv.fr

      Try searching for “miel” or “apiculture” and use Google translate to help.

      Here is a document that gives a bit of an overview.
      http://www.agreste.agriculture.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/primeur282.pdf

      For the Rhone-Alpes region
      http://www.agreste.agriculture.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/R8212A11.pdf

      I would be very interested in reading your thesis when finished! A fascinating subject!

      … Scott

    • Colin Honeywill

      Hi
      My surname is Honeywill and it is said that our ancestor came from France where they farmed with bees and kept honey in big wells, hence our name.
      Please let me know if there is any truth in this

      Shalom

      Colin

    • Hi Colin:

      I am going to take a wild guess and suggest that “Honeywill” is a variation of the name “Honeywell”. If your ancestor came from France, wouldn’t he have a French name?

      Here is some history of the name, “Honeywell”
      http://www.houseofnames.com/honeywell-family-crest
      It is quite interesting.

      …Scott

    • Steve

      Hey Scott, I’m going on a walking tour in France and would like to visit some honey/beekeeper farms where we can learn and taste different varieties of honey…perhaps a tour? Can you suggest?

      Thanks
      Steve

    • Andy

      Hi Scott,
      After seeing a programme on TV we would appreciate some advice on where we can buy Honey produced by French Black bees. We cannot remember which region it was produced but the bee kaaper had hives made from tree stumps.
      Thanks
      Andy

    • Hi Andy:

      Black Bees (Apis mellifera mellifera) also known as European Dark Bee and German Black Bee is one of the 30 or so sub species of honey bees.

      The earliest honey bees brought to North America in 1622 were Apis mellifera mellifera. It was the only honey bee in the United States for 239 years until the introduction of the Italian or golden honey bee (Apis mellifera ligustica).

      Why are Black Bees important? Maintaining diversity of bee species is vital to the long term viability of honey bees. They represent a genetic stockpile that help bees build defenses to disease and parasites. Increasing Genetic Diversity of Honey Bees—A Necessity, Says Bee Breeder-Geneticist Susan Cobey

      I was not very successful in finding an online source for Black Bee honey. But perhaps the following information may help you.

      More information:

      Another Black Bee (Apis mellifera sicula) from Sicily
      Black Bee Honey from Sicily – translated

      …Scott

    • Robin Hutchinson

      I would appreciate it if I could be advised where to buy French thyme honey, I am on holiday France at present, a friend asked me for some.

      Thanks and regards,
      Robin

    • Paul

      Hi,
      I have a small import/export business in Hong Kong,
      I’m looking for someone that can supply me honey produced in France,
      It must be of good quality and they need to be able to supply it on a monthly basis year round,
      We can use there own label or if we can find a producer that can put our label on it,
      Any here would be great!
      Regards Paul

    • Louise Beattie

      I am looking for a source for Fleurs de France honey which I was last able to find in 2012. The company carried lavender, mountain flower and another type of honey. The wholesaler was not able to get it last year and does not carry it this year. Can you tell me who does? I would like to order a few cases of Lavender Honey, depending on the price. Thank you for your help! Louise Beattie

    • Louise Beattie

      Can you tell me where I may find a distributor for Fleurs de France honey? I would llprefer one near San Francisco, CA Thank you! Louise Beattie

    • Hi Louise:

      I haven’t heard, nor can find any reference to the brand, “Fleurs de France” for honey. You might try this french wholesalers site to post a request, Espaceagro (translated from French to English). I understand it may be tricky using Google Translate to communicate, but it might be worth a try.

      Here is a beekeepers forum called Apiservices with many beekeepers selling honey. Again in English translated from French. You might also find other brands that are more easily obtained in the USA.

      Also you might try Saveur du Jour, an importer of honey from France, http://www.saveurdujour.com/contact_us.php

      Hopefully you will find a good lead for some delicious lavender honey from France. I also recommend thyme honey from France… heavenly!

      …Scott

    • Dee

      I’m stationed overseas in Europe and planning on visiting a bee farm. They sell Blossom, acacia and Lindon-chestnut. I’ve been trying to google the difference in them, as far as taste. I’ve already tried the Acacia from them, but wanted to try the others. Can you help me with the comparisons?
      Thanks!

    • Pierre

      Hi all,
      I am a french amateur beekeeper near Nantes south of french brittany.
      Black bee are the most common bee in France. A big part of real french honey we can buy in france is coming from black bees. there is also buckfast and italian bees colonies but when you grow up a new queen she ll flight in the air to “marry” with male bee and there’s a high percentage that she meet a black male bee. It also true that black bee is more than common in french brittany.
      Come to see us and go to see real beekeeper… Don t buy honey in supermarkets.

      Regards,

    • Petra

      Hello, I would like to ask you, what is the amount of carbohydrates in miel de romarin. My son is diabetic and loves honey and this honey does not seem to be as sweet as the others. Thank you very much for your answer. Petra

    • alex

      I’m interested to buy 2000 kg of miel de châtaignier en gros. Please send me e-mail at dobramihaialexandru@gmail.com

    • Kathrine

      I just got back from France and the hotels we stayed in had:
      Miel de Fleurs Flowers Honey

      It was awesome. Can you tell me where I might be able to order some of this from in France?

    • Hi Kathrine:

      You are lucky to have tried the honey in France. Overall, I think it is the greatest honey country in the world. The honey you tried is a generic type of honey from France, “honey from flowers”, so you would need to know the actual brand to order it. However, I have ordered from Abeille et Soleil and found their honey excellent! They also have a “miel de fleurs” and I also recommend their lavender and rosemary honey as well.

      Since the site is in French, I used Google translate to order honey from their site (www.miel-du-sud.fr).

      The shipping cost is quite high though. Much more than the honey although the weak euro makes it a little easier to take.

      You can try to search for “miel de fleurs” for other sources in France and use Google Translate. Make sure they ship to the USA and take a credit card.

      Good Luck!
      …Scott

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