Patient art of popular French festive treat

Brief history of one high-end confiserie and chocalaterie explains the weeks-long process of creating candied fruit

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As Christmas approaches one particular shop in Nice will be doing especially swift business with its renowned handmade candied fruit and flower-infused treats.

The confiserie and chocalaterie Florian is famous in and around Nice for its confectionery. From candied clementines, crystallised violet petals and rose jam to chocolate liqueur, spreads and bars, the family-owned business creates something all taste buds.

The shop's manager Sandrine Fuchs-Wyler said: “The most difficult product we make here is the chocolate.

“It’s very fragile - if you get the temperature wrong it ruins the chocolate. The most expensive item we make would be the candied fruit as it takes so long to make, as well as our crystallised flower petals. It takes several weeks of work to transform a fresh flower into a crystallised one.

“Equally, it takes 45 days to create our candied fruit as it has to be dipped into a sugar mixture and left to dry each day so that the sugar is absorbed before being coated again.”

All products at the shop are made fresh in a small factory space upstairs, before being packaged by hand and put out onto the shop floor downstairs.

There are many small tasting dishes dotted around the shop, so that you can taste a few of the products before buying them.

When asked what her favourite product was, Mrs Fuchs-Wyler said: “Our most popular product is our crystallised rose petals, but I don’t have a personal favourite. I love it all.”

The story of the company began in 1921, when a chocolate factory, named Florian, opened on the port in Nice. It received cocoa beans from Africa and Venezuela in the boats that docked just outside its doors and the painter Matisse became a regular client.

Meanwhile, in the nearby village of Pont-du-Loup, a factory was taken over by famous French perfume company Fragonard. The company was founded by Eugène Fuchs in 1926. When he died in 1939, the business was passed to his son George Fuchs and his son-in-law François Costa.

In 1949, George decided to turn the perfume factory in Pont-du-Loup into a new company, the Confiserie des Gorges du Loup. The products became a byword for high quality, winning the Coupe d’Or du Bon Goût Français award in 1972.

The company decided to expand in 1974 by taking over the Florian chocolate factory and renaming it the Confiserie du Vieux Nice. Meanwhile, Costa continued to manage Fragonard.

Known today, simply, as Florian, the company has four shops in the area surrounding Nice and is run by the fourth generation of the Fuchs family. Both Florian and Fragonard are still run by the great grandchildren of Eugène Fuchs, with the Fuchs managing the former and the Costas the latter.

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