Almond and honey confectioneries
When almond trees were introduced to Provence in the 1600s, it did not take long for locals to craft the nuts into nougat, and the region has been famous for this sweet treat ever since. The mixture of honey and almonds took over from the previously-popular walnut cake, itself likely introduced by the Greeks, and would remain a firm favourite for centuries to come.
Like nougat, calissons have been a traditional Provençal dessert for many years. Their name comes from joining “calice” (chalice) with the diminutive “oun” and originally referred to the holy cup of the Eucharist. These religious links may explain why calissons are blessed every year in Aix-en-Provence’s Church of Saint-Jean-de Malte! Calissons are made from a paste of almonds and candied fruit, topped with icing, and somewhat resemble marzipan, albeit with a fruitier flavour.
Our almonds and almond products come from three producers in Haute Provence, each masters of their own specialty. For our calissons and nougats, we decided to team up with Maison Manon. This confectionery maker from Haute Provence was founded by René Manon—beekeper—and Louis Bellon— pâtissier.
From the moment they joined forces, René and Louis began creating delicious nougats, calissons and other sweet specialities from Provence. In 1951, Louis decided to retire and leave the business to René and his wife. Over the years, they fashioned new confectioneries, such as honey lozenges, pralines and liquorice candies. René heads the production while his wife Henriette heads the sales department.
In the seventies, their oldest son, Jean-Paul, undertook training at the prestigious patisserie Lenotre in Paris. He returned to the family business with a new wealth of knowledge and decided to create a chocolate range. A few years later, his brother took over the management of the business, and the company expanded and moved to bigger premises.
Maison Manon doesn't compromise with quality and is dedicated to the use of local products and ingredients wherever possible. The manufacturing of their products to the highest standards relies on the use of traditional machines, delicious recipes that haven't changed for generations, and new techniques of packaging. Their most popular products, chiefly as they have been treats in Provençal families for generations, are the nougats and calissons you can find here on our site.
To find out more about each of our producers, simply select that producer's photo from the slideshow below.