Around the corner from the Eiffel Tower sits a lovely shop that smells of Provence and is filled with sweet and savory delicacies derived from ancient recipes that date back to medieval times. Ears of the Good Goddess (ancient Rome) to hearts of the Little Albert (fourteenth century), the Petit Duc offers nougat with almonds, pralines, shortbread biscuits, Damask pink calissons (almond paste candy from Aix en Provence), Verdun sugared almonds, crystallized flowers and leaves in tins, and honey from the Hautes Alps. Packaged in decorative wooden and metal boxes, transparent tubes filled with treats, these make special take-home gifts.
Never tried calissons? Among the first known references was in Martino di Canale’s Chronicle of the Venetians in 1275. An earlier 12th century text written in Medieval Latin used the word calisone to refer to a cake made with almonds and flour. Some trace the introduction of calissons to Provence around the mid-15th century at the second wedding of King Rene of Anjou. Others suggest that it was not introduced in its modern form until the 16th century, as this was when almonds became an established crop in Aix-en-Provence.
Whatever you choose to believe, a sample taste will tell you this is something special, something hard to replicate in your kitchen. The oldest of their marzipan recipes is composed of rose petals with the exact distribution of 3 drops per 16 kg.
Ask to see their back showroom, a formal parlour. The shopkeepers speak English and will make you feel right at home.
Le Petit Duc
31 Avenue Rapp, 7th arrondissement
Tuesday to Saturday from 10 AM to 7.30 PM
Sunday and Monday from 10 AM to 1PM and from 3PM to 7.30 PM