South-West France Desserts

The most important bit of information is to know that a ‘pain au chocolate’ is called a ‘chocolatine‘. The chocolate filled puff pastry dessert has the same taste but a different name and if you call it anything else they’ll know you’re not from around here immediately! Now that we have that covered…the South-West of France, like many parts of the country, has it’s own regional desserts which cannot be missed when you are visiting! Here are some of the best :

GIRONDE

Macarons – The classic macaron people think of when in France, is the Bordeaux or Parisian macaron. This is the pretty, colored and multiple flavored, delicate sandwich of almond-meringue cookies with a special cream or jelly center. Did you know that THE original macaron, the first one made 1620, was actually from Saint-Emilion…or so they say. The small, idyllic countryside village in the vineyards is also where the first recipe for the Italian-style macaron was made, which is almond flour and meringue, often sold on a paper disk. Even before Italians were making this dessert, similar varieties were found in North Africa, so the actual history is rather complicated. Maison Adam in Saint Jean de Luz also claims to have created this dessert in the late 17th century for the wedding of Louis XIV. Buy the white and blue boxed ones in Saint Emilion at Les Macarons de Nadia Fermigier / Open 8am-730pm in summer from Monday-Saturday and 9am-730pm on Sunday / 9 Rue Gaudet, 33330 Saint Emilion / Phone +33 (0)5 57 24 72 33 / http://www.macarons-saint-emilion.fr

Canele or Cannele – Maybe you’ve seen the ridged conical shaped dessert and not know what it was. Legend has it that the nuns in Bordeaux created this dessert hundreds of years ago with the scraps from the many trading ships coming into town – vanilla and rum specifically – and the yolks of the eggs left over from winemakers using the whites to purify wine. Traditionally, they are made with copper molds, waxed with bees wax to prevent sticking on the interior which also makes the best for a crunchy exterior and lighter, soft interior. Baillardan  is one of the chains that makes them locally, many pastry shops will make them as well, or even take a class to learn how to make them in Bordeaux at 36 Place Gambetta,  33000 Bordeaux / Open 8am-8pm Monday-Saturday and 930am-730pm on Sunday /  +33 (0)9 67 79 42 74 / http://www.baillardran.com

Dunes Blanches – Essentially a cream puff with crunchy sugar on the top, sometimes the simpler things in life are the best. Created in Arcachon, you can now find shops in Bordeaux as well. Get them at Chez Pascal Dunes Blaches in Lege-Cap-Ferret / 21 Avenue Gambetta, 33210 Arcachon / Open 630am-130pm and 4pm-8pm in summer / +33 (0)5 56 60 96 90 / http://boulangerie-chezpascal.com (check website for other locations)

Miques – These are something you won’t see everywhere, or all the time, as they are unique to the Easter period. They are sugary balls of dough with a light, sugary alcohol center. Making them is actually a really fun process and pretty simple compared to many French desserts. You can get them in Bazas, during the Easter period, at Boulongerie Patisserie Sauboua at 5 General Cours de Gaulle. Open Monday-Saturday from 630am-100pm and 3pm-730pm and mornings on Sunday. Phone +33 (0)5 56 25 00 46 / http://www.http://boulangerie-sauboua.fr/

Puits d’Amour – Created in Captieux, about 15 minutes drive from Bazas, these can now be found in pastry shops all over the region. They are a light pastry (choux) with a light meringue/creme patisserie (chibouste) center and a burned sugar top…think of a bite sized, airy crème brulee. Yeah. Found in many pastry shops in the region. The original location is in Captieux, but has since been sold to a new owner, and you can find them in the marche des Capucins in Bordeaux / Maison Seguin  / Open 715am-1230pm and 330pm-730pm Tuesday-Saturday and mornings on Sunday, closed Monday / 4 Rue de la Gare, 33840 Captieux / Phone +33 (0)5 56 65 60 40 / Maison Seguin – Le puits d’Amour à Captieux depuis 1952

Jesuit is a flakey pastry with powdered sugar, frangipane and shaved almonds in a long, triangular shape ment to represent the hats worn by Jesuits. Said to have been created in Bordeaux, it’s one of my favorites, like a cross between an almond croissant and a mille-feuille? You can find these in almost any shop in the region, so try a few and let me know what you think? In Bazas, at Boulongerie Patisserie Sauboua at 5 General Cours de Gaulle. Open Monday-Saturday from 630am-100pm and 3pm-730pm and mornings on Sunday / Phone +33 (0)5 56 25 00 46 / http://www.http://boulangerie-sauboua.fr/

LANDES 

If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss the pastis landais, which can be found at the Ecomusee Marquez in Sabres, cooked over a wood oven and other local bakeries. It’s a lighter and sweeter brioche, to me, sometimes with orange water, rum and vanilla. It’s just heavenly when it’s hot. Give the version sold at la Maison Laborde a try / 24 Avenue Gaston Phoebus, 40990 Saint Paul les Dax / +33 (0)5 58 90 25 33 / Open daily from 10am-730pm with closure at lunch at all day Monday / Le Pastis Landais de la Maison Laborde – Depuis 1948 (pastislaborde.fr)

Or maybe treat yourself to any manner of Dacquoise cake, which is named after the inhabitants of Dax (another large city in the Landes). This delectable dessert is made of layers of nut meringue disks and alternating buttercream. It’s actually gluten free as well 😉 This is a dessert that is thought to have been created hundreds of years ago and is often found in fancier patisseries and restaurants for dessert. 

La Tourtiere is a special dessert with many fine layers of pastry covering an apple and rum filling, its delicious and fun to eat and there is even a shop in Dax dedicated to this pastry called, naturally, La Tourtiere / Open daily / 12 Rue Saint Vincent, 40100 Dax 

PAYS BASQUE

For something even more Basque, try a Mouchous! These are soft, almondy, sweet cookies in different flavors, best eaten fresh from Paries who created them in 1948. While there are shops all over France, the original location was Saint Jean de Luz. They also make the famous gateau Basque. Tours of the patisserie are offered, but book in advance / 9 Rue Gambetta, 64500 Saint Jean de Luz / https://www.paries.fr/

Gateau Basque is a very well known, rather dense cake of almond flour, often filled with pastry cream or dark cherry jam (Itxssuko). My favorite so far was from Saint Jean de Luz at Etchebaster / 42 Rue Gambetta, 64500 Saint Jean de Luz / +33 (0)5 59 26 00 80

Chocolate is thought to have entered into France from Spain through the Pays Basque, so you’ll find some wonderful chocolate shops in Bayonne, you can read about here Pays Basque, France – Aquitaine Travel Guide

 

Read more :

Les desserts landais, un petit goût de l’enfance… (delices-mag.com)

How Almonds Went From Deadly To Delicious : The Salt : NPR

L’amande : histoire, anecdotes, dictons et légendes – Interfel – Les fruits et légumes frais (lesfruitsetlegumesfrais.com)

And follow Aquitaine Travel Guide | Facebook and Instagram for more travel and food fun!

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