Bonbon is French for ‘Sweet’, because it’s twice as "bon"!

Did you know that in France, most regions have their own sweet delicacies, and many of them came about due to a mistake in the manufacturing process.

Here’s a sweet little explanation about some of the yummiest ones from our French Tutor Estelle. Do you know any more?


La Bêtise de Cambrai

La Bêtise de Cambrai

(from the Nord Pas de Calais; mint flavour, with caramelised sugar stripes)

In 1830, Emile, who was then training in the family business, made a mistake (bêtise) in the recipe. His mother shouted: “You’ve made a mistake, again!”
But since everyone liked the sweets so much, they decided to keep on making them and they became known as the “Bêtise de Cambrai”.



 La pastille de VichyLa pastille de Vichy

(from Auvergne; white lozenge, comes in different flavours like mint, aniseed or lemon)

In 1825, a chemist extracted the active components of the famous Vichy water to develop a medicine that wouldaid digestion in the form of the first ever lozenges. These delicious pastilles were greatly appreciated by the empress Eugénie and became famous for their refreshing properties.


L'Anis de FlavignyL’Anis de Flavigny

(from Bourgogne; made from aniseeds covered in flavoured sugar syrup)

L’Anis de Flavigny were first made in 719 by Benedictine monks in t

he Flavigny Abbey, using aniseed brought by the Roman traveller Flavius. Today, there’s only one place that still makes them in the traditional way: la Maison Troubat, in the very same abbey.



La Violette de Toulouse

La Violette de Toulouse

(from Haute Garonne; violet flowers crystallised in sugar)

These unusual bonbons first appeared in the 13th century when flowers were simply cooked in sugar and considered a luxury (also very expensive). The proper crystallisation

technique started about 200 years ago, but it’s still a complex procedure, which is done entirely by hand.


Le nougat de Montélimar

Le nougat de Montélimar

(from Provence; honey, sugar, egg whites, almonds and pistachios)

Since olden times nougat has been made with honey, almonds and spices. In the 17th century, Provence became the only place to make it, and at that same time, Olivier de Serres planted the first almond trees near Montélimar, and started adding fruit to the recipe.


Le Calisson d'Aix

Le Calisson d’Aix

(from Aix en Provence; made with sugar, almond meal and candied melon, and covered with an egg icing)

The origin of the Calisson is unknown, but it was mentioned for the first time in the 12th century, and was made in Provence in the middle of the 15th century. In 1454, it was served to the future queen, Jeanne de Laval, who liked it very much and made it famous.



Have you tried any of these sweet French delicacies? Are there any other French bonbons that you love? Tell us in the comments below.


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Published: Apr 3, 2013

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