At that time, the saffron became Gâtinais' Red Gold

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Crocus sativus - ©Liné1 / CC-BY-SA Crocus sativus - ©Liné1 / CC-BY-SA

What’s this?

This golden spice cultivated since centuries comes from Asia and the Middle East. In France, they cultivated it in Loiret département since the 16th century!

The saffron is a bulb plant, with a nice violet flower flanked by stigmas, kind of thin red filaments: the only workable part of the flower, that will give the saffron spice! Saffron is rare, so very expensive, because the picking and peeling take time: yes, 200 000 flowers give 1 kg of saffron!

The little history

Primitively, the saffron was cultivated in Boynes, in Loiret département. Then, the culture spreads all other the area: Pithiviers, Montargis, Boiscommun... It was known as "the best saffron in the whole world" and had its moment of glory in the 17th century...

Then it declined in the 19th century and ended in the 20th century. And yet, in 1987, a horticultural school reintroduced it in Loiret! A Saffron museum even opened in Boynes in 1997.

But where did this kind of saffron come from? It was first cultivated in Boynes city, even the German came every year for the fair to buy this spice! A lord from Boynes, sir Pocquaire, introduced the saffron in the country: it was a knight who brought it back from Crusades, in the 13th century!

And the little bulb acclimatized very well... Kings, aware of the valour of that "red gold", wrote edicts to regulate the trade. Because it became a very juicy business, leading to frauds! Some merchants even mixed the saffron with other spices of the same colour.

And also!