There’s a whole lot more to the sweet life in France than croissants and chocolate mousse. Most regions have their own delectable specialities that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Here are the country’s best sweet treats from Aix-en-Provence’s incredible calissons to Strasbourg’s iconic kougelhopf… Just try and say non!
Calissons are diamond-shaped candied fruit topped with royal icing. Le Roy René is the undisputed king of calissons in Aix-en-Provence, making both classic and specialized versions. Try one of the famous Calissons d’Aix, a mix of finely ground sweet almonds and candied melon and orange peel atop a thin wafer layer, coated with creamy icing.
Calisson Roy René - 11 rue Gaston de Saporta, Aix-en-Provence
You may not know it, but Bordeaux is known for more than wine! Canelés are bite-sized rum and vanilla pastries in a dark caramelized shell that are so popular, local boulangerie La Toque Cuivrée’s has opened outlets all over the country. But when in Bordeaux… you can go straight to the source.
Canelés La Toque Cuivrée (in french) - 5 Rue sainte-Catherine - 12 place Gambetta - Place Paul Doumer, Bordeaux
Founded in 1796, Moulot & Petitjean is the oldest gingerbread factory and boutique in the world. It specializes in nonnettes - traditional little gingerbread cakes made from honey and orange marmalade - as well as plenty of other mouth-watering local Dijon delicacies.
Nonettes Mulot & Petitjean - 6 boulevard de l'Ouest, Dijon
These small boat-shaped biscuits are a Marseille must-try. Traditionally, they’re hard biscuits flavoured with orange blossom, although today you can find lots of different variations. For the best in town, head to Le Four des Navettes, the oldest bakery in Marseilles and a family-run business with a prized, 200-year-old secret navette recipe.
Four des Navettes - 136 rue Sainte, Marseille
Reims’ Rose Biscuits
Reims, the champagne capital of France, is also synonymous with another treat: La Maison Fossier’s rose biscuits. Created in 1690, these bright pink biscuits are a light and crispy vanilla-flavoured wafer dusted with caster sugar. Make like a real Rémois and dip your biscuit in your champagne!
Biscuits rose Maison Fossier - 25 cours Jean-Baptiste Langlet, Reims
If you’re a real sweet tooth, you must try a Merveilleux at the iconic Aux Merveilleux in Lille. Merveilleux are small cakes with layers of meringue and whipped cream, sprinkled all over with chocolate shavings. Aux Merveilleux’s acclaimed pastry chef Frédéric Vaucamps has reinvented the traditional recipe, making it lighter and offering a variety of different flavours.
Aux Merveilleux - 1 place des Buisses - 67 rue de la Monnaie - 336 rue Léon Gambetta, Lille
The Kouign-Amann is a Breton speciality made of flaky, buttery, caramelized pastry that melts in your mouth. Heaven! When in Brittany, head straight to the award-winning Pâtisserie Le Daniel, just behind the Saint-Pierre de Rennes cathedral, and savour one. While you’re there be sure to try the Parlementin, another regional delicacy made from almonds and apple cider.
Kouign Aman Patisserie le Daniel (in french) - 13, rue de la Monnaie - 5, rue du Bosphore - 19, rue Jules Simon, Rennes
The Alsace region in the north-east of France specializes in kougelhopf, a marble cake shaped in a circular Bundt mould. If you’re in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, head straight to La Maison du Kougelhopf in the Old Town – aside from cakes, the restaurant also serves main meals and other local dishes.
La Maison du Kougelhopf Patisserie Buhler - 11 Rue du Dôme, Strasbourg