For the past three decades, the prop designer and graphic artist of the Palais Granier, the Paris Opera House, has lead a double life. By day, Jean Paucton builds big, beautiful sets for elaborate performances at what is perhaps the best–known opera in the world. By night, or perhaps just in his time off, Monsieur Paucton tends to the thriving apiary on the operahouse roof.
The rooftop beehive began as a happy accident, when Paucton realized that his newly–purchased hive would not get to the countryside in time. Inspired by a friend who had been raising trout in the opera basement (apparently you can do that), the apiarist decided to bring the bees to the roof.
Two weeks later he returned to retrieve them, and the hive was full of honey. In fact, it was more honey than Paucton expected them to produce in the countryside.
Now, the bees thrive at what is perhaps the chicest residence in France. Paucton harvests and packages the honey at home, and sells it at the opera house gift shop and the gourmet food shop, Fauchon. As perhaps the most fashionable sweets–makers in the world's most fashionable city, a tiny jar of 4.5 ounces costs about $13.
Fragrant chestnut and linden trees and urban shrubbery create a unique honey that Paucton admits, does not appeal to everyone. As in fashion, you either get it, or you don't.
Photography via Eric Tourneret