The Var Olive Route

A discovery tour of the thousand and one tracks running between mills, cooperatives, museums and olive growing estates in the Var region.
By Sarah Carrière-Chardon

The richness of Var olive groves is spread out over five distinct zones. The seafront is favorable for the Cayon and Brun varieties, the centre for the Cayet, the east for the Cailletier and the Petit Ribier, the Upper Var for the Bouteillan and Gros Ribier varieties, and the northwest for the Salonenque and Anglandau… The Var region has the largest selection of olive trees in France, with no less than 30 varieties dispersed across a terrain particularly rich in coastal olive groves, across hills, alluvial plains and valleys. It’s this “Olive Route” that the association of Var olive growers wishes to promote.

It is at the growers’ headquarters in Draguignan where the details of olive culture and appreciation are taught. Through amateur tastings and professional workshops, they manage the community’s cooperatives and mills, as well as the the “French Olive” and “AOP Provence Olive Oil” labels. With over 2,500 hectares of plantations, the Var region alone supplies 20% of French olive oil consumption. Ever year, they publish a little guide which will help you navigate the 60 or so estates.

The Var region offers a high-quality selection for a first (or repeat!) visit. For table oil, there’s just one address, the Belgentieroise cooperative (www.coop-belgentieroise.fr) where you’ll find preserved black and green olives . In the village Besse sur Issole, the Intercantonale cooperative processes 10 to 15 tons with artisanal materials; visits take place from 20 November to 15 December. For the high-tech version, the Canton d'Ollioules cooperative processes 120 tons annually. For organic produce, it’s to Correns one must go where the mill equipped with a chain of continuous extraction processes organic oil. Go to Val for the Maison de l’Olivier, a genuine museum dedicated to the olive, or to Callas for a visit to a completely restored 18th century mill. Soon the terms, “fruity green, “mature” or “black” will hold no mysteries for you!


Discover

Maison de l'Oleiculture Varoise
489, boulevard Jean
Mermoz
Quartier les Incapis
83300 Draguignan
Tel 04 94 67 47 45
www.oleiculteurs-du-var.com
The Var Olive Route
The Var Olive Route
Draguignan
Photography José Nicolas

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