Food, Travel

A Visit to Les Anis de Flavigny

Situated in the Côte-d’Or, in the Auxois region of Burgundy, is a little village called Flavigny-sur-Ozerain.

Just another quaint little French village?

Just another quaint little French village?

Home to just 340 residents, Flavigny is nestled deeply in the French countryside and may pass as a nondescript village if not for the fact that its reputation far surpasses it. The entire town is dotted with historical monuments, including its medieval fortifications, the architecture of artisans like glass-blowers, wine-makers, tanners, weavers, millers, etc, and a Benedictine crypt, earning it the accolade of l’un des plus beaux villages de France, or “one of the most beautiful villages of France”.

The Americans may also know it better as: the village where they filmed the movie Chocolat, yes the one with Johnny Depp in it.

True story.

Although Flavigny may be known as “that chocolate village”, it is in fact, better known for another type of candy – the Anis de Flavigny. For those who aren’t familiar, these are aniseeds coated in sugar and flavoured with an assortment of aromes.

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Visitors could try samples in the boutique before making a decision to buy. From popular flavours like lemon, orange, mint and rose, to the more exotic aniseed, ginger and licorice, there’s something for everyone.

The visit to the factory did not permit photography, but here’s a picture of the building from the exterior:

Guided tours are conducted in French, free of charge to attend, and only takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

Guided tours are conducted in French, free of charge to attend, and only takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

The factory is also home to an ancient Benedictine crypt, where the monks dedicated their lives to prayer, studies and hard work. These monks practised a peculiar “ritual” (if you will), where they’d chant nonstop 24 hours. There must have been a system where the monks rotated and chanted in shifts. At any rate, one would hear music round the clock.

As previously noted, the French are partial to their sweets, so it should come as no surprise that the boutique offered up an assortment of lollies.

Sugar rush!

Sugar rush!

And of course, there was chocolate.

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Food, Travel

A Visit to the Confiserie des Haut Vosges (CDHV)

When discussing French gastronomy, it’s not hard to guess what immediately comes to mind. The trifecta of “wine, cheese and breads” are the usual suspects, closely followed by breakfast pastries, funky foods – mostly along the lines of terrines and patés, frog’s legs, escargots, steak tartare, and what someone once described as “actually, not far from dog food”.

Be that as it may… one man’s meat is another man’s poison, n’est-ce pas?

What may come as a surprise however, is how partial the French are to their sweets, or bonbons, as they call them over here. We’re not talking about gâteaux like a fondant au chocolat or a Paris-Brest, nor desserts like a clafoutis or a crème brûlée, nor pastries like an éclair or a kouign-amman, nor biscuits like a macaron or a tuile, but actual sweets.

Or candy if you’re from the USA. Or lollies if you’re Australian. Yes, sweets.

How fond exactly, of sweets, are the French, you might wonder? Well, consider this – statistics from the Syndicat National de la Confiserie (yeah, they actually have a national candy organisation) state that in 2013, the French spent a total of 1,070 million€, to consume 222 200 tonnes of sweets. Over a billion euros. On average, a French person would consume 3.3kg (or 7.27lbs) of chocolates, dragées, nougats, pâtes de fruits, marzipan and chewing gum per year. For those interested in a full breakdown of stats, click here.

Little wonder then, that the Confiserie Des Haut Vosges is the fifth most visited enterprise in all of France.

GodzillaPin, eager to indulge his sweet tooth.

GodzillaPin, eager to indulge his sweet tooth.

Having sampled and bought the CDHV goodies many times before, at various Christmas markets and local fares, the duo simply couldn’t resist a visit to the factory in Plainfaing when they were in the area for the Ninja Turtle’s trail race in the Vosges. Hey, carb-loading, right? And since sugars are carbs, who’s to argue with science?

Entry was free and open to all, and the visit included a quick tour with a demonstration of the candy-making process. The team were highly professional and explained the process well, BUT… it was all conducted in French. That said, the factory does welcome international visitors, and there were brochures and pamphlets in English, German (and maybe Italian if one remembers rightly?) At any rate, it’s a great place to bring the kids who need an extra incentive to brush up on the French!

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Once the factory tour was complete, visitors proceed to the museum.

Traditional copper pots on display. These were called "cul de poule", which translates to "ass of chicken" (I kid you not).

Traditional copper pots on display. These were called “cul de poule”, which translates to “ass of chicken”. Truly.

The visit ended in the candy store, where GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle spent so much money, the shop gave them a free environmentally-friendly reusable bag to carry all their goodies in, plus three free bags of candy, because of course, the 15 they bought were not enough. After all, with a 3.3kg of candy consumption target each to meet, they’ll need all the sugar they can get to fulfil their patriotic obligation!

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