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One place, three atmospheres

La TOQUE magazine, 09.2023

The Confectionery Conservatory is divided into three spaces. Point of entry to the site, the shop is overflowing with (giant) lollipops, multicolored sweets, pastilles, calissons, sugared almonds, caramels, nougats, chocolates, etc. So many candies made in the Conservatory laboratory, separated from the shop by a window. The workshop is also visible from the museum space, filled with machines, molds and documents of all kinds. Nicolas Viollet has implemented a color code to distinguish heritage machines (patinated in dark red) from operational machines (ivory colored). Highlight of the visit: the participatory workshop for making lollipops and cartons, to experiment with two sugar working techniques.


“My goal is to share my passion for sugar and to promote authentic and artisanal sweets, based on natural flavors and colorings, far from the cheaper and more acidic industrial sweets that have now invaded the market”

LTM: How did you put together your collection?

NV : I spotted my first machine in the classified ads in La Toque magazine. Since then, I mix sources – websites, fairs or auctions – whenever I have two minutes. It’s a real passion and long-term work. Every day, I live and breathe confectionery! From promotional key rings to machines weighing more than a ton, including various utensils – molds, presses, tongs, frying pans – my collection now numbers some two thousand pieces, mainly dating from the end of the 19th century. and the 20th century. Due to lack of location, only a third is currently exhibited in Amboise. In the future, I hope to be able to expand the conservatory and develop a museum space dedicated to chocolate, associated with bean-to-bar production (from bean to bar, Editor’s note).

LTM : What does your typical day look like ? 

NV : I concentrate production in the morning to free up time in the afternoon to carry out visits and public workshops, in relay with my teams. My goal is to share my passion for sugar and to promote authentic and artisanal candies, based on natural flavors and colorings, far from the cheaper and more acidic industrial candies that have now invaded the market. Originally, however, the ancestors of confectioners were the apothecaries. In the past, confectionery was long associated with pharmacopoeia and candies even had medicinal properties. I want to tell this story to raise awareness and revalue artisanal treats, the consumption of which often regulates itself. In France, there are around six hundred confectionery specialties, some of which are disappearing due to lack of transmission. 

LTM : What are the best-sellers in your store ? 

NV : Nougat, pralines and cartons, three fair products that we find in the collective memory and which echo my personal history. Then come the pastilles, with strong sentimental value. With violet or bergamot, they often evoke grandparents. For many of us, candy often remains linked to childhood as a moment of pleasure and sharing.

LTM : And you, what is your best culinary memory ?

NV : I am rather salty but I have a particular memory of the hot calisson dough, tasted at seventeen years old during my first tests in the workshop of the master confectioner Jean Micoulin, in Crius, in the Alpes-de-Haute- Provence. It had an incredible citrus and bitter almond flavor, which I have never found since. This emotion is also due to the magic of the moment, the atmosphere of the place, the smell of lavender and the personality of the character.

Barbara Guicheteau