Ever visited Aix-en-Provence? You should not be surprised to see people buying little white diamond shaped sweets made of almonds, candied fruits (particularly melon) and sugar!
Today, I visited Aix’s famous “calissons” factory called « Les Calissons du Roy René », and had the chance to meet two amazing people (and one of them is the confectioner!) who told the story of these traditional sweets from Provence. I was surprised to learn from them that there are many legends about the origins of calissons. It almost sounds like a nice fairytale…
It is said that calissons come from medieval Venice and that they were made to celebrate religious holidays. However, they travelled to Provence where professional bakers decided to alter the original purpose of the « calissons ». Originally, René of Anjou, count of Provence, was desperate because his wife Jeanne de Laval was sad all the time by his side. Consequently, he asked his bakers to create a sweet shaped as a smile for her. When René of Anjou gave some to Jeanne, he said (in the “provencal” language) : “ Di calin soun… ” (Here some hugs…) which bought back her smile. Not only is this story cute, but it also shows that “calissons” are an important part of the culture from Provence.
So don’t forget to get her some “calissons” to make her smile. Jeanne de Laval loved them so much that she had an affair…with the confectioner! However, who wouldn’t be tempted to get more « hugs » ?