Nothing in the south seems older than the olive. Neither the smooth symmetry of the arena of Nîmes, nor the fretted outline of the Pont du Gard, nor even the rocks themselves, bleached white by the sun. Olive trees have grown here since before the Romans came. It’s thought that the Phocaean Greeks introduced the olive to Provence around 650 BC. TO northern eyes, accustomed to a sappy verdure, the olive tree appears almost dead; its dull grey-green sabre leaves rustle like old paper even when new, and its twisted and contorted limbs seem beyond life. But in fact, the lifespan of an olive tree is immense – most live from three to six hundred years, and a few span ten centuries.