Nice, an agricultural land, has known, over the centuries, how to take advantage of the various external contributions while consolidating its traditions. If the climate has been a major asset for the development of tourism, then that of the Côte d’Azur, it has long remained a constraint for local agricultural life. Long periods of drought interspersed with violent storms, sometimes devastating, compromised harvests and pastoral activity. Men had to adapt their agriculture. Today, a wide range of products and fruits produced here are organically grown.
A wine and agricultural heritage
The first forms of cultivation, durum wheat and barley, appeared in our region 3,000 years ago. The Greeks developed viticulture in the 2nd century BC. The Romans shaped the first agricultural landscapes by cultivating olive and fig trees. Then, for a long time, a self-subsistence culture was established with low yields, because the natural conditions were difficult: the soil was poor, water was scarce and the steep relief required the development of terraced slopes supported by dry stone walls, called “planks” in Nice and “restanques” in Provence.
“The olive of Nice“
The Olive de Nice is protected by two Protected Designations of Origin: a “Huile d’olive de Nice PDO” for its sweet and fruity oil and an “Olive de Nice PDO” for its table olive and its pâte d’olive de Nice PDO. For more than two millennia, the olive tree has been an integral part of the Nice landscape, and in certain orchards in production, you can still find olive trees that are several hundred years old.
The Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) Olive de Nice and Huile d’olive de Nice cover an area of 99 communes, on hills and slopes, from the Pays Grassois to the Pays Mentonnais, from the sea to the mountains. Indeed, an appellation of origin lives thanks to the passion, competence and know-how of its operators.
Respect for local products
Today, the sector of activity is being renewed. The younger generations are perpetuating the traditions by producing fruit and vegetables that can be found on the markets, but with a difference: most of them are starting out in organic and sustainable farming.
From the wheat used to make bread and pasta to the vegetable beans, peas, lentils, broad beans, chard, aubergines, leeks, onions, squash, cabbage, radishes and carrots, many young farmers have specialised in the production of regional products.
The Wine of Bellet
For a long time, the cultivation of vines was an integral part of the agricultural landscape and then focused on prestigious wine production. Thus was born the appellation “Vins de Bellet”, from the name of the hills where the vineyards are spread out. The wines of Saint Jeannet also enjoy notoriety.
Today, the Bellet AOC is supported by 9 passionate producers and produced entirely organically, which is what makes it so original. Today, the Bellet wine is known worldwide and can be found on the most famous tables.
Hand-picked, with a low yield, on small terraces, the vines will produce an exceptional wine that goes particularly well with the specialities of Nice cuisine.
The choice is yours: citrus aromas for the whites, which take on more mineral tones as they age, rosés that are more flowery with roses or even violets, and reds with spicy notes that make good wines for ageing.
There is a particularity of the Alpes Maritimes mountains: here there are a lot of ewes and transhumance, the ancestral method which consists in taking the flocks up to the mountain pastures in summer, is still very much alive. The flocks arrive in June, first by truck, the final climb is done at the pace of the ewes. Putting the ewes to grass is always a great moment, the ewes are excited by the large expanses of meadows that are offered to them. The lambs and kids take the opportunity to run around and play until they fall over from exhaustion. The sound of bells and rattles enliven the pastures.
In the Haut-Pays, in the mountain pastures, the cows graze peacefully, you will see them during your hikes. The breeders milk them on the spot and prepare tomes, brousses and other milky delights. This is an opportunity to get to know the animals and to ask the cowherd any questions you may have. Production techniques, life in the mountains, calving, there is so much to discover.
Do you know the Crocus Sativus? This flower produces a spice that is commonly known as “red gold”. Saffron.
Since 2016, it is in Saint-Jeannet that you can find the domain of Safran des Baous. On the spot the producer will make you discover this know-how coming from the Greeks and Persians. Everything is done by hand and in family!
If you would like more information about Nice, an agricultural land, do not hesitate to contact us!