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LES ABEILLES AND BEEKEEPING IN THE HEART OF PARIS

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In the mid-to-late 1800s, people flocked to the city of Paris from the countryside, and some of them continued to practice apiculture even though they were now living in an urban environment. It was soon discovered that bees love Paris as much as humans do. Bees love the chestnut trees of the Champs Elysees, the flowers in the Jardin des Tuileries, and the linden trees of the Palais Royal.

The Beekeeping School (Rucher Ecole) in the Luxembourg Gardens, has been teaching Parisians about bees and beekeeping since 1856. In fact, the man who tends bees on the roof of the Palais Garnier Opera House, studied at the Luxembourg Gardens. His name is Jean Paucton and it was a serious twist of fate that turned him into an urban apiculturist.

You see, he was working as a prop man at the Opera House, at a time when he was in the middle of moving into a house in the country. In need of a temporary place to store a bee hive he had just taken possession of, it was agreed that he could put the hive on the roof of the opera house for the time being. When he was ready to collect it, he found that the bees were happily and healthily doing what bees do, collecting pollen and making honey. Paucton has been tending bees up there ever since.

Because gardens and tree-lined streets are so plentiful in Paris, bees are happy here. They make more honey than bees in the country, according to many suburban apiculturists.

That brings us to Jean-Jacques Schakmundes, a shopkeeper and beekeeper with hives in Paris, who sells all sorts of honey and products made with honey, in his lovely store called Les Abeilles.

He will explain that honey has historically been used for therapeutic purposes. Acacia honey aids intestinal health. Chestnut honey is a remedy for anemia and fatigue. Honey made from Eucalyptus flowers, helps relieve symptoms of the respiratory tract.

At Les Abeilles, you can purchase a variety of honey in small jars, to enjoy at home. If you are a local, you can bring your own little pot and Monsieur Schakmundes will fill it up for you. There are candies made with honey, honey spreads, honey soap,
and then there is the pain d'epices. This is a honey spice cake to die for.

There are about 300 hives in the city of Paris. You can find them on the rooftop of the other opera house in Paris (the Bastille), in Parc Kellerman and Parc Georges Brassens. You can buy honey made in Paris at Fauchon, and each Fall during the Autumn Festival at the Orangerie in the Luxembourg Gardens, you can buy the honey that has been harvested in the park.

If you are interested in staying in a small three-star hotel on the Left Bank, and you love honey, the Eiffel Park Hotel has hives on the roof, and serves its own honey, with breakfast.

LES ABEILLES
21 Rue de la Butte Aux Cailles
13th Arrondisement
Metro: Corvisart
Closed Sunday and Monday
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11am-7pm

www.lesabeilles.biz

EIFFEL PARK HOTEL
www.eiffelpark.com



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