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Sweet decorations at the Château de Chenonceau

La nouvelle république , 06.12.2023

For its traditional end-of-year scenography, the “Château des Dames” called on Nicolas Viollet, from the Amboise Confectionery Conservatory.

Did you know ? Sugar arrived in France during the Renaissance and Catherine de Medici, who was fond of it, crossed the Alps with her personal confectioner and ice cream master. Five hundred years later, it is a nod to this part of the history of the place that the Château de Chenonceau has decided to showcase by giving a tangy touch to its traditional Christmas decorations. No need to go very far to find the artist capable of translating this idea into lollipops and other cartons: in Amboise, Nicolas Viollet, the creator of the Conservatory of Confectionery, was just as designated.

Nostradamus, apothecary and Menier chocolate

Boxes and giant lollipops, but also pyramid calissons, sweet balls and other Christmas canes have therefore found their way to the kitchens of Chenonceau, combined with the floral arrangements which will adorn the place until the beginning of 2024.

“Everything that is done at Chenonceau always has a link with the history of the castle. This link with confectionery was also a way of working with Nicolas Viollet,” explains Jean-François Boucher, floral scenographer at Chenonceau. The idea for this collaboration was launched at the beginning of 2023. The castle provided very precise sketches and placed an order with Nicolas Viollet. “The conductor is Jean-François Boucher. Everything was planned and designed, underlines the confectioner. I created my elements according to the various constraints to be respected. I only allowed myself a few fantasies which made it surprised, but in a good way.”

Nearly 200 kilos of isomalt

The Amboisien notably spent time on the Calisson pyramids, which have more than 1,000 elements each. “We also blew balls with a pear, onto which we then stuck cartons, one by one.” The compositions were created in the workshop of Nicolas Viollet, Bout-des-Ponts district in Amboise, then transported. It took nearly 200 kg of isomalt, an inedible sugar, to make all the pieces. The work of the Amboise confectioner was followed by a team from TF1, which will soon broadcast a report.

In the end, this order will also have been a discovery for the confectioner. And a demanding, but stimulating job. “It allowed the Conservatory team to get out of its comfort zone. It was also a challenge for us. Sometimes we started with an idea, before realizing that it didn’t work at the time of the set up”. For the boss of the Conservatory of Confectionery, a unique place of its kind in France, working for the Château de Chenonceau and its 800,000 annual visitors is also a great boon. “It’s an unexpected showcase,” recognizes Nicolas Viollet, who sees many links between his activity and the “Château des Dames”.

“The castle has an apothecary. However, apothecaries are the ancestors of confectioners. The Menier family, owner of Chenonceau, is also a big name in chocolate. Finally, Nostradamus, who was close to Catherine de Medici, is the author of the first Treatise on Jams. For me, all the elements matched.

Julien Proult