It’s that time of the year when I don’t know exactly how to feel – a bit sad about the end of the holidays, more than a little excited about the New Year, and altogether anxious for the start of another beautiful spring in France.
And if you haven’t heard, or guessed already, things are a tad slow for us Southern dwellers during the winter months. Villages are all but boarded-up, especially as the nasty Mistral blows through town, and besides shopping (the winter sales begin this Wednesday), skiing, and sundry winter sports, Provence practically goes into hibernation.
Truth be told, even though I’ve set my wallet on autopilot & can’t wait to blow through the doors at Printemps on Wednesday, my real comfort during the winter months comes in the form of French sweets – mousses, pastries, and chocolates of every shape, size, & nut extraction. And judging by the line winding out of patisseries like Bechard, me & my stretchy-pants aren’t alone.
Armed with guidebooks & frosted-dreams, Kathy Ayer and I hit up several sweet spots in Aix-en-Provence that were far better than any day doing le shopping.
Our first stop was Bechard which occupies prime real-estate on Cours Mirabeau & whose display windows make easy-targets of passing shoppers. Offering freshly-baked bread, fruit confit, macarons, and pastries of all dimensions, it’s hard to pass up a quick indulgence.
And if you’re looking to have the top of the top (or crème de la crème as it were) pastry experiences in Aix, you’d best join the appreciative customers at either of Riederer’s two “centreville” locations. These sweet jewels are everything you’d expect from quality French pastries: gorgeously assembled and light to the taste. No over-the-top sugar drops here… as I can attest to, having tried one of Riederer’s exquisite “Cezanne” creations. A little piece of cream-covered heaven on a plate.
Along with many other “sweet spots” of note, we’d certainly be remiss, or maybe just a tad greedy, if we didn’t include chocolatier Puyricard.
A bit off the main track, but more than worth the trek, Puyricard is a Provençal chocolatier with boutiques in towns across the region. And these chocolates are no-less than diet-killing, moan-out-loud, fork-over €23 per-240-grams delicious.
If you go to Puyricard, don’t go around the holidays (take-a-ticket crowded) and please oh please make sure to try the chocolate-covered caramels. 100% guaranteed to get you through the winter… gale-force Mistral winds…the subjunctive tense… or just about anything else.
12 Cours Mirabeau
Ph: 04 42 26 06 78
67 Cours Mirabeau
Ph: 04 42 38 19 69
Salon de thé Riederer
57 Rue Espariat
Ph : 04 42 66 32 97
-Article on Riederer from En Provence.
420 Route du Puy Sainte Réparade
Ph : 04 42 21 47 10