Follow @travelmeow on Instagram!
Follow @travelmeow on Instagram!
The Real Life “Chocolat” Town in France
A town built around candy-making monks is a must-see on my list! If you’re headed to Burgundy wine country, Flavigny-su-Ozerain is a sweet stop between Paris and Beaune/Dijon. However, I have no idea how to get there legally: Our GPS insisted that we go down a one-way farm road the wrong way… for several miles… and uh, we did. Ahhh, silly Americans! C’est la vie!
This is where the movie “Chocolat” was filmed! I had to visit – every chic-flick-lovin’ fiber of my being willed it so. Now… truth be told, there is no magical artisan chocolate shop in Flavigny, but… the town is famous for something just as sweet: their Anise Candy Factory.
The word “factory” is usually synonymous with industrial ugliness and smoke stacks. Au contraire, there is no such thing in Flavigny. Their version of “factory” is pure magic: an old Benedictine abbey circa the year 719, complete with flowering morning-glory vines and vintage Volvos.
The Abbey of Flavigny has been producing these sweet treats since 1519, when monks first developed the recipe. Not much has changed since! Upon visiting the candy shop, we were surprised with a tour of the factory and sugar-coating room. The most darling woman handed us hair nets, then led us up a creaky wooden staircase to the 2nd floor where a staff of two men were making the candies.
Natural sunlight spilled through the warped antique windows, flooding the small room with warmth. There was a small single-file of spinning drums. The men nodded in acknowledgement as they hand poured buckets of sugar syrup over the jostling candies. It was loud – it sounded like 1000s of marbles tumbling in washing machines. No photos were permitted, but these are from The Abbey of Flavigny’s website:
Over 15 days, the anise seeds are churned with various sugary syrups (such as violet, orange, rose, and jasmine) to form a thick candy coating. The syrups are made from sugar, water, and essential oils extracted from literally tons of flower petals. Then, the little pastel pebbles of jaw-breaking goodness are placed in precious oval tins and sold all over the world. You can buy these “bien bonbons” straight from the source in the attached boutique. But, if you miss them, no need to worry – they are everywhere in France, from roadside convenience stores to Paris. In fact, they are even sold in the USA – in “France” of Disney’s Epcot Center! I am in total awe as to how this tiny abbey of artisan candy makers can supply that far and wide… perhaps there is a little magic in Flavigny after all.
The rest of the town is the absolute definition of “Old World Charm,” and oh-so photogenic. Everything is within walking distance, and so picture-perfectly quaint it’s surreal. I felt like I was walking through a crafted movie set; a living Renoir painting. We explored the crypt (which felt like Indiana Jones meets Rome!), then meandered through the rest of this mystifying medieval village… past rustic facades woven with blooming ivy… dainty doorways with colorful paint peeling in the southern sun… stony ramparts blanketed with moss… as church bells chimed with songbirds and grasshoppers.
Abbey Tours: 9-11am weekdays from February to November (excluding August).
Touring Routes & Places to Stay by BurgundyToday.com