For a very long time the olive has been the symbol of many regions in southern France and in particular Landuedoc where the precious charismatic olive tree has flourished for centuries. The climate in this region is perfect with very long and very hot, dry summers. The winters are mild making it the idyllic place for olive trees to thrive and do so exceptionally well.
There are thousands of hectares of beautifully tended olive groves throughout this gorgeous Mediterranean region of France. For centuries people have been attracted to the area for many reasons which is hardly surprising as it is so exquisite to travel to, through as well as around.
The olives produced in Languedoc are pale green in colour as they ripen on the trees but in December and January, these fruits start to turn pale mauve and violet, eventually turning black as they are ready for harvesting. Hundreds of tons of olives are harvested for general consumption and of course to make the wonderful olive oil that’s produced in the region.
Excavations areas in the Mediterranean have revealed ‘amphores’ which date back to 3500 BC. These were the containers that the precious oil the Greek poet Homer referred to as ‘liquid gold’ was transported in by the ancient civilisations who treasured this commodity more than anything else in the world. These finds were on the Greek island of Crete, which back in ancient times was one of the biggest producers of olive oil.
L’Olivier, which is French for olive tree, is a very resilient little tree that can be subjected to the harshest of conditions and yet it still survives. Some trees have been thought to live up to 1000 years or maybe even longer, which is incredible. The olive tree is a slow growing tree and many people believe that it is only the third generation who really reaps the full benefits from them. Olive trees are planted as an investment for the future and this has been so for centuries.
The olive groves in this region are a wonder to behold with their lovely silvery grey-green leaves and their mysteriously shaped trunks all standing in elegant and quiet rows for as far as the eye can see. I love to just stand and gaze at these lovely trees and this is when I remember that someone once said that the olive tree loves solitude and it grows well when left to its own devices.
There are some superb varieties of olives grown in Provence, luques, picholine, verdale, bouteillan, negrette, rougette and aglandeau are just a few of them. Each and every one of them has it’s own unique and wonderful taste which ranges from rich and fruity to spicy and full of flavour.
If you are ever in Provence and in Languedoc, then there are some very beautiful olive groves that you can visit and I strongly recommend that you do. It is a sheer pleasure to tour around these ancient olive groves with their wonderfully tended trees and of course, you do get to do a lot of tasting, both the fresh fruit and the marvellous olive oil that’s produced in the region. Now who could not want to do that?