The mythical olive tree is a true symbol of the Mediterranean region surrounding Le Grand Bleu. Although Greece, Italy and Spain are the main olive producers, you will also find oléiculteurs (olive growers) in the South of France. I love the Languedoc variety called Lucques. The shiny bright green olives are instantly recognisable. L’Oulibo in Bize-Minervois happens to be the biggest Lucques producer in Languedoc. Time for a visit!
L’Oulibo, which means olive in Occitan, is the only Coopérative oléocole in the Aude department. That’s right, a co-operative just for olives, instead of wine. There is a lot to learn about the eternal olive tree and its wonderful fruit. L’oulibo is a great place to visit, especially if you go on the guided tour, called “l’Odyssée”. You can also visit this educational olive grove by yourself, as the signs put up by the co-operative explain a lot. However, being guided by a local who knows all the ins and outs is far more interesting, I think!
Secrets of the olive tree
For example, did you know that an olive tree never dies? The tree can burn down, but the root and underground parts of the tree can sprout endlessly again and again. Some olive groves that were planted by the ancient Greeks are still flourishing! There are many olive varieties. However, there is no such thing as a “green” or a “black” olive tree. All trees first produce green olives, and once the fruits ripen, they turn from violet into black. And, apparently, using olive oil is a perfect replacement to your expensive anti-ageing cream. Made out of 100 % pure olive juice, without any additives or conservatives. Haven’t tried it yet…
The French love their light and sound shows, and here also you will get a modest version of one. A 20-minute movie (available in multiple languages) gives you more information about how olive oil is produced, whilst someone points out the equipment in real life. Fascinating to see that L’Oubilo still uses its old millstones to press a part of their olive oil. A technique that has been used for over thousands of years!
L’Oulibo is a co-operative that cherishes its product. You can tell that they are passionate! The degustation allows you to taste the difference between a few different olive varieties and olive oils. I had never tasted pure olive oil; on its own it is an entirely different sensation than savouring it with a piece of bread. But that’s something you have to go and try for yourself.