Did you know that France has one of the oldest and best managed honey industries in the world? Throughout France, there are boutiques like Maison du Miel (House of Honey), and a myriad of vendors at the outdoor markets who sell nothing but honey and honey-related products. Furthermore, like wine, you’re generally expected to taste before you buy!
For as many varieties of wine there are in France, there is equally as many honey flavors available with differences in the smell, color, and tastes all based on the flowers the honeybees forage. It is used in countless foods and recipes worldwide, and its health benefits are widely known. In short, honey is a good, healthy, pure food, and, minimally, adding a generous spoonful to your diet occasionally will make you a happier person! And the French love it!
We here at Au Bon Goût Boutique initially thought the choice would be simple and straightforward when selecting one or two top brands of French honey to recommend. We quickly learned otherwise. Similar to French wine, France is divided into 22 regions, and every region produces honey! The largest producer of French honey is the Rhone-Alps region, and the smallest is the island of Corsica. The choices were endless but we narrowed it down to one particular brand we liked the best due to quality and variety: Famille Perronneau.
Why is French Honey So Special?
The French have been prizing their natural honey for centuries. The syrupy liquid that honeybees make from plant nectar is loved for its sweetness and depth of flavor. In France, honey is generally sold by variety, where it is cultivated by producer, and if it’s crystallized or not. French honey is a true expression of what they call, its “terroir” – it’s natural area. Like wine, the composition of some soils allows plants to obtain the honey flavor, a bouquet of exceptional fineness. Additionally, the honey’s flavor, texture, color and quantity depend not only on the flowers foraged by the bee but also the weather and the season. A “bee’s pasture,” as beekeepers call it, rarely goes beyond a mile to a mile and a half from the hives making honey —like wine, directly linking the bee to its “terroir".
Flower Pollen Collected by Bees
Flower pollen collected by bees from flowers is completely different from pollen that causes allergies! It is the main food for bees, long before honey, because it is rich in protein. It is made up of water, carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, minerals and fiber. It is a real natural stimulant, fortifying and invigorating which will help you to strengthen your immune system as well as stimulate your body. Rich in fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B3, It naturally contains antioxidants and vegetable proteins.
One of the best French honey brands we like is made by Famille Perronneau. Starting at the hive, Famille Perronneau takes care of their bees by cherishing them using bee-friendly methods. Their hives are all located in France on preserved areas which are selected with the utmost care, and most importantly, the honey is harvested at maturity in a natural way, without using any chemical products, allowing this 100% pure and natural honey to taste it as it is in the hive.
Famille Perronneau presently produces honey in various flavors, including acacia honey, orange blossom honey, maritime lavender honey, lemon tree honey, chestnut honey, linden honey, mountain, wildflower honey, and even oak honey! Here are some of our favorites!Famille Perronneau, French Heather Honey (Miel de Bruyère)
In France, honey is not just eaten for flavor but each variety of honey is reputed to have specific health-giving properties for what ails you. Said to be good for urinary tracks, heather honey is less sweet than most of the other honey types. What sets this honey apart from other varieties is its strong, woody taste that borders on delightful bitterness. With its unique viscosity, bold taste, and rich amber color, this honey goes remarkably well with the meat or seafood menu.
The honey from the Heather Honey nectar is higher in protein than most honeys which gives it a unique consistency – thick and gelatinous. If you stir this honey, it will become syrupy and can be poured like most other honeys but will return to the gelatinous state when left undisturbed. You can create a gloriously smoky marinade for cooking up a gourmet summer barbecue or ham with this honey, or, simply spread this honey on your favorite baked goods.Famille Perronneau, French Maritime Lavender Honey
French Maritime Lavender honey is a premium honey. From the shores of the Mediterranean, this French lavender honey is made from pollen gathered from the lavender species growing along the sea's coastline. It is a delicate honey with an incredible flavor with hints of the salty air where it grows that enhances its overall flavor. Flowery, pleasant, well balanced and rounded, very fine honey aroma and the delicate floral scent with an evident lavender component. It has a very persistent medium sweet taste that grows with the finish.
Lavender Honey is often used as a first aid treatment for cuts and burns. Lavender Honey has anti-microbial qualities that inhibits bacteria growth and helps to keep wounds clean and deters infection. Lavender Honey also acts as an anti-inflammatory to help reduce swelling.
Famille Perronneau, Acacia Honey with Almonds
Famille Perronneau Acacia Honey with Almonds is a rich, versatile, multi-purpose, and fragrant authentic French condiment with the perfect harmony of refined nutty, delicately sweet, and pleasantly floral flavors. Characterized by its silky-smooth texture, thick consistency, and beautiful light amber appearance, this full-flavored treat is loaded with crunchy almonds.
Famille Perronneau, Orange Blossom Honey (Miel d’Oranger)
Famille Perronneau, Orange Blossom Honey is highly distinct compared to other honey varieties based on flavors. Warm in color and flavor, this Orange Blossom Honey is delightful getting its orange flavor from the bees feeding predominantly on orange blossoms, which gives it a one of a kind taste. Pleasantly aromatic, it is sweet and fruity with a slightly citrus orange tinge, as its name suggests. A spoonful of this liquid gold will take your imagination to the orange grove in the south of France.
With its slight touch of citrus, this honey can be used to create a citrus-based marinade or salad dressing, or you can drizzle it over fruit. Orange blossom honey boasts strong natural antimicrobial properties that recommend it for a variety of uses, from wound healing to improving the appearance of acne and acne scars and treating respiratory tract infections by reducing bacterial load.Famille Perronneau, Miel de Provence (Honey from French Provence)
Famille Perronneau, Miel de Provence is honey produced from one or more flowers from the wild flora of the French regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur, Drôme and Gard. Harvested in traditional ways in the Provence region of France, this honey is a delightful combination of floral and honey flavors. The single-flower honeys have a floral taste while multi-flower kinds of honey have a 'planty', fruity taste. Any honey labeled as Miel de Provence is protected by a Label Rouge associated with a protected geographical area in France both for all honey flowers and for lavender honey.Famille Perronneau, Miel de Framboisier (Raspberry Honey)
This raspberry honey is a completely natural honey that comes straight from the raspberry blossoms in the south of France. This honey has a wonderful “clean” sweetness to it, mixed with just a hint of tartness that comes straight from the raspberry nectar.
A Word of Caution - Avoid Inexpensive Supermarket Honeys
While honey is considered to be a natural sweetener that has numerous health benefits, large commercial brands are often found to be adulterated by watering down their honey with sweeteners such as corn syrup to order to increase production. Large inexpensive brands of honey are always consistent in appearance and viscosity, with the same color and taste in all their bottles due to processing and addition of unwanted chemicals. You want a honey that displays differences in appearance as naturally occurring honey is never consistent in color or taste.
To ensure the honey you’re bringing into your home is the real deal,
- Avoid any honey labeled as “ultrafiltrated” or processed
- Don’t be fooled by honey labeled as “pure.” This has no legal significance and doesn’t guarantee purity.
- When buying honey, it is important to check the label due to mislabeling.
Fabriqué en France or Recolté en France (Made in France, or Harvested in France) are different from Elaboré en France or Transformé en France (Processed in France).
If “fabriqué” or recolté en France –then you know the bees live and thrive in Franc, and the honey produced is 100% French from start to finish.
By law, for a product to be labeled honey in France, it can only contain nectar transformed by bees – nothing added or removed. A true French honey harvester will know exactly what flowers and what region in France the honey is derived from and will rarely be consistent in color and appearance. You may pay a few more dollars than you would at the supermarket, but it is well worth it! There are so many great French honeys to choose from that you deserve to treat yourself to the very best. Check out our delicious French honeys at Au Bon Goût Boutique and get ready for a delicious experience.