Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Le Bonbon au Palais

 Le Bonbon au Palais watercolor 9" x 11"

 Class, we're back in the candy shop/confiserie, Le Bonbon au Palais. Remember I said the shop was like a schoolroom full of nostalgia. And Georges, the shop owner, has all his old school notebooks/cahiers and pencils sitting under the jars of candy.

 In fact to really understand French traditional candies we do have to go back to school and study. At first glance I too gave short shrift to all these hard candies - too much like the striped baubles grandma gave us when we were small, right? Wrong. But these are quite different with much more intense flavors, often from seasonal fruits and herbs grown only in special regions of France. The coquelicot/red poppy is native to Nemours and the Bergamotte is native to the Lorraine. It's a small yellow citrus fruit, inedible when raw, but its rind yields an essential oil much used in perfumery and confectionery. The fruit was first popularized in France by King Stanislas in the 18th century. Who knew?

 See all these apothecary jars full to the brim with candies? French chemists and pharmacists often by chance when making pills, made the very first candies like dragee/coated almonds you see in every French candy shop. Candy has alway been 'medicine' of a sort.

 And how come French children are so savvy about these refined regional specialties? Not only do their grand-meres give them these treats. They get further 'candy education' at special celebrations like babtisms, communions, christmas, Easter, birthdays and weddings. We have a lot of catching up to do!

 I was admiring little bags of pate de fruit/fruit paste. The process for these is labor intensive and complicated. I've heard people rave they're almost better than eating the real fruit. When I got home I discovered Georges had hidden a little packet in my candy bag! If you own a candy shop you're bound to get up to play tricks on people...

 Here Georges is pouring fruit gells into a jar brought up from his celler which I imagine lined floor to ceiling with fabulous candies.

 Why is Georges shaking the jar up and down?
To redistribute the colors he said.
Are you in love yet?

When I spotted this little schoolbook with a paintbox, Georges brought it down and read to me the poem by Jacques Prevert.
Reprenez vos couleurs
Les couleurs de la vie.
(Take your colors, the colors of life).

 For my 'candy education' I had to take a trip to Nancy in the Lorraine

 Famous for their bergamotte candies, syrups, liqueurs...Oh they make a million things made from that citrus rind.

 Back at Le Bonbon de Palais I bought a little bag of unbelievable 'Gelifies Lorrains'. Honestly you've never tasted anything like them!

 Yesterday I polished off my last gelifie bergamotte. It was tragique. Surely in New York City one should be able to find traditional French candies easily. I called and called. Nothing. Zero. New Yorkers you have to get some French candy education SVP!

This morning in desperation I discovered Amazon does carry many real French candies. They will keep me going till I get back to France. So do not walk by when you see a French candy shop full of jars of hard candies. Go in and TASTE!
You will be very surprised and delighted.
19 rue Monge 75005
Open Tuesday - Saturday, 11am - 7:30pm
FYI: Other Paris confiseries you can visit:
 La Mere de Famille
Denise Acabo
Les Bonbons
Les Paris Gourmands


  1. I'm not a candy person, but I love your photos (and watercolors).
    Georges candy store lokks like a fun place!

    1. you would become a candy person if you tasted these...
      They are more than just candy!!!

  2. Wow! They really do take this seriously. This was very interesting. Kind of makes the old M&M's pale in comparison.

  3. I lived in France 2 years and I DID walk by, thinking there wasn't more than Haribo candies in them. What a fool I was! I will not miss my chance the next time I get to la belle France!! Thank you for sharing. :-)

    1. You need 'CANDY EDUCATION' Meadow.
      Mechante chat!!

  4. Geri NJ6:59 PM

    I know I would love these candies. Earl Grey tea is blended with oil of bergamot which gives it that special flavor and aroma that's so great.

    1. I've read that Geri NJ
      How interesting!!

  5. I am only too willing to begin my French candy education! First thing, I want to taste the coquelicot - poppy flavor. I wonder if eating coquelicot will make me fail my drug test? Opium comes form poppies and They say it makes people fail their drug test after eating a poppyseed bagel. I have a few recipes for making the jellies...must get to trying them!

  6. Yay! I found coquelicots at Amazon - but quelle tragique! Not available on wait list!

  7. For no discernable reason, I found the coquelicots and they ARE available....winging their way to me right now! Merci!

    1. I have a feeling I will be too late now uh oh

  8. Good Ole Amazon.. What would we do without it! Love your painting... and the School book with the paint pallet. Also the smile on Georges face..He looks like he would be up to fun mischief.:)

  9. love the bon bon piece.
    You do such a great job on your blog.

  10. I havent been to Nancy, but my next trip i want to do bergamots from Nancy, poppy candies from Nemours and violets from toulouse ..... and also to do a trip to the camargue or guerande to see the fleur de sel!!!

  11. You mean I won't find candies like this in NYC? I'm beginning to wonder why I'm coming, lol. Love all the photos here and your painting at the start is incredible, Carol. Pâte de fruits - French hubby says he used to have these in a baguette for his 4 O'clock treat.

    1. WOW!
      WHO KNEW?
      I've heard of chocolate + bread as a snack but pate de fruits!!
      This is how French kids learn to be connoisseurs early days!

  12. what an amazing candy shop! dare i say it's the best i've ever laid eyes upon?! i think i shall. such fun!

  13. I love Jacques Prevert's poetry and the illustration. Is that a book that is available to buy?

  14. Anonymous7:07 PM

    You are letting me know more about Paris and France than their inhabitants ! I hope to go to Paris soon... J'adore ton blog Carol !
    p.s. : I don't like to be "Anonymous" but I don't know how to do otherwise !

    1. Click on the drop-down menu to Name/URL

      and put in yr name
      No URL essential
      c'est comme ca!


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