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Amboise: the Confectionery Conservatory, unique in France, will open

its doors this early July

France 3 Région, 19.06.2021

The Confectionery Conservatory project: a unique museum and factory in France, intended to safeguard our tangible and intangible confectionery heritage, was born in the head of Nicolas Viollet, a passionate confectioner and collector. His dream finally comes true.

And no, it was not greed that guided Nicolas Viollet. It is another passion, started at a very young age, that of a collector which determined his action. Third generation of confectioners in Loches, he likes to tell this anecdote: “At 12 years old, I made my own pralines and at 16 I bought a first calissons machine”.

Fallen into the pot, passionate about safeguarding this heritage

After an apprenticeship in a chocolate and confectionery factory in Joué-les Tours, a CFA in Le Mans, Nicolas trained to become a chocolatier and confectioner, like his father and grandfather, settled down, lived ten lives, while saving everything related to confectioner’s profession, machines from the last century, objects that were used by ancient confectioners.

© N. Viollet

Berruyer boss of one of the six companies which supply the fairground market, producing 40 tonnes of cooked sugar per year, he sold his business to embark on the adventure. He found the place of his dreams in Amboise, 1000 m2 with parking, former commercial premises, which will allow him to create his project, the one he has been thinking about for a very long time in his head: creating a confectionery conservatory.

The confectionery conservatory: a living heritage project

At the head of 2000 objects, found over the years, he has enough to imagine a museum to reflect the complexity of a profession which includes no less than seven major manufacturing families, and which in history was associated to the pharmacopoeia.

© France Télévisions

“We, the origin of our profession, are the apothecaries, it is a royal decree which dissociated the grocers and confectioners from the pharmacists, we have a history that we have not been able to keep and promote, so as a result, I think it’s time for people to become aware of all that. The machines we use today, we find them in the pharmacopoeia. We have the same professional bases, and when we look at the history of candies a lot of pharmacists made sweets” he explains to us.

The fabric

In addition to this museum part, visitors will find the factory, where the various trades are represented:

  • The sugar cook who makes berlingots, barley sugar lollipops,
  • The nougat maker,
  • The calissonier,
  • the praline maker,
  • the sugared almond maker
  • The caramel maker,
  • The confectioner who makes candied fruits.

He explains to us, “to make a carton, we have 12 m of machines, made up of four machines, what we call a production unit. I have six”.

Depending on the productions of the moment, the visitor will be able to establish a dialogue with the professional, participate in the production and perhaps even taste! Enough to surely spark vocations. And highlight regional products.

This is what Nicolas Viollet hopes. He explains, “we have a lot of specialties. For example caramel, we make salted caramel, caramel, vanilla, coffee, or tomato with Château de la Bourdaisière. With head gardener Nicolas Toutain, we selected varieties of tomatoes to make caramels, fruit jellies, filled candies… I would like this profession, which is no longer taught in France, to be the subject of training, that we work on the renewal of recipes”.

Nicolas has already recruited four professionals and three apprentices, with this desire to share know-how. One of them is even bilingual and can welcome foreign tourists. “The special thing is that everything is open. It is the operator who explains what he is doing. We are not constrained by productivity, we are there to explain what we do, it was even part of the hiring criteria. The advantage of confectionery is that it does not fear bacteria and microbes, and therefore we can receive the public”.

Although he is resolutely focused on the modernity of his production, Nicolas Viollet chose the scenography of the place by referring to images of old workshops. He confides: he had all this in his head for a long time, and the professionals responsible for carrying out the work were surprised by the precision with which he described to them what he wanted.

In his conservatory, he plans to set up professional and amateur training (ah ! Making your own sweets). He is teeming with projects. The place will be able to accommodate people with disabilities,  the blind will be able to touch specialties, their shapes, through resin reproductions. Of course, a shop will allow young and old gourmands to take home a sweet souvenir of the place.

Already nearly 2,000 subscribers to the Facebook page.

Wanting to create a conservatory does not prevent you from using social networks to communicate. The one opened on Facebook already has a certain notoriety. It must be said that it contains what it takes to create a real confectionery culture. The confectionery conservatory, the name of the Facebook page is in the image of the designer of the project.

Secondly, an online store should allow tourists passing through Amboise to benefit from French know-how, even if they are far away. All that remains is to finish getting started with the machines and the specialties before welcoming the first tourists.

C. Lacroix