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©calissons_du_roy-rene-aix_en_provence-provence ©DLafont-min (1)

Les Calissons d'Aix

A speciality of Aix-en-Provence, in the Bouches-du-Rhône region, calisson is one of the 13 official desserts of Provencal tradition. Deliciously sweet, this confection has survived the ages since the reign of King René without changing its recipe. In fact, it has been a Protected Geographical Indication (IGP) since 2002. With its melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, you won’t be able to resist tasting a calisson d’Aix for long.

A confection for King René’s wife

Calissons d’Aix are a Provençal culinary specialty taking the form of a navette (small boat) prepared from melon confit fruit paste and almonds, topped with royal glaze (a mixture of egg white and sugar) and placed delicately on a base of unleavened bread (a mixture of potato starch and water).

The origins of this confection remain unknown. One of the earliest histories dates back to the 12th century in a Latin text that uses the term calisone, an almond and flour cake similar to today’s marzipan. Other sources mention the importation of calisson into Provence in the mid Vth century.

According to legend, at the wedding of René d’Anjou to Jeanne de Laval in 1454, the future queen was said to have tasted this smile-shaped sweet prepared by the King’s confectionery chef. Following her tasting, she is said to have declared in Provençal Di calin soun, meaning “these are hugs”. The name would thus find its origin in this expression. Les calissons d’Aix are classified as gourmet intangible heritage by the city of Aix-en-Provence. They are one of the thirteen desserts traditionally served at the end of the Christmas Eve meal in Provence, alongside, among others, the pompe à l’huile and the four mendiants representing the various religious orders who have taken the vow of poverty.

Le calisson, a Provencal recipe

Since its creation, the recipe for calisson d’Aix has remained unchanged. Confectioners prepare this sweet specialty by starting with a mixture of fine-crushed almonds to which are added candied melon and orange peel. They set the whole on a bed of hostie which is covered with a layer of glaçage royal. Calissons d’Aix have benefited from a protected geographical indication(PGI) since 2002.

This European Union identification sign designates products whose quality or reputation is directly linked to the place where they are produced, processed or elaborated. However, the ingredients do not systematically come from the geographical area in question. To obtain this appellation, calissons d’Aix must therefore strictly comply with a precise requirements specification – i.e. rigorously follow the recipe – and be produced in Aix-en-Provence. Otherwise, the product cannot be called “calisson d’Aix”.

Calissons factories in Aix

La confiserie du Roy René

A century-old family business based in Aix-en-Provence, the Roy René specializes in the manufacture of Provencal confectionery, including the famous calissons d’Aix. In 1920, Ernest Guillet opened a confectioner’s workshop in the center of Aix-en-Provence, where roasted almonds, candied melon, honey and pistachios are among the essential ingredients in the recipes he painstakingly prepares. From then on, Ernest’s nougats and calissons attracted taste buds and became true local delicacies. A century later, threegenerations have succeeded one another in keeping Ernest’s tradition alive. Today, the factory is located just outside Aix-en-Provence on the Route Nationale 7. At its heart is the Musée du Calisson, a tasty journey through the history of the company’s expertise. Several boutiques du Roy René are also available in other French cities: Marseille, Angers, Antibes, Arles, Dijon, Nîmes, Salon-de-Provence and Saint-Paul-de-Vence.

Address:5380 route d’Avignon – 13089 Aix-en-Provence

La confiserie d’Entrecasteaux

The confiserie d’Entrecasteaux is one of the oldest calissons factories in the region. Founded in 1889 in Aix-en-Provence, it has seen more than a century of four generations of passionate artisan confectioners generously passing on the quality and know-how of the house. Today, the factory is housed in the Halles 1889, a large covered market in Aix-en-Provence that brings together numerous merchants and artisans specializing in catering. It was awarded first prize in the Provence competition by a jury of Michelin-starred chefs for the best calissons d’Aix. The confectionery offers a wide choice of calissons d’Aix in a variety of flavors and colors to satisfy every craving. Why not try the calisson au pastis, an atypical recipe combining two southern specialties?

Address:2690 route des Milles – 13510 Éguilles

La confiserie Léonard Parli

The confiserie Léonard Parli was founded in 1874 by the Swiss confectioner Léonard Parli who, during a stay in Aix-en-Provence, discovered calissons. Seduced by the sweetness of this confection, he decided to open the Aix’s first calissons factory. Since its creation, the families who own the confectionery have carefully guarded the secrets of making calissons and other sweets. Part of Aix’s heritage, Maison Léonard Parli’s frontage is topped by a badge bearing the Swiss cross surrounded by oak and olive branches, the respective symbols of Switzerland and Provence. Today, the boutique is located in the heart of the city of Aix-en-Provence, a few steps from the Rotonde and Cours Mirabeau.

Address:35 avenue Victor Hugo – 13100 Aix-en-Provence