Provence specialities: Sweet Treats

  • Calisson

    © Fotolia


    © Fotolia

Provence specialities: Sweet Treats

Sweet specialities


Fruits confits d'Apt

Fruits confits are the product of an ancient art form of candying fruit - a delicate and subtle art, made exclusively by hand. They were created as a solution to preserve fruit for the winter months. The fruit is boiled, and then absorbed in syrup, once drained, they’re coated with a thin film of sugar to preserve its taste. Fruits confits d’Apt come in all different flavours from figs, plums, cherries, melons, apricots, pears, and citrus.


Berlingots de Carpentras

Legend says it was a baker of Pope Clement V living in Carpentras who created this hard candy during a banquet in the fourth century. The Berlingots de Carpentras are pyramid shaped candied fruit made from syrup, marked with white stripes. The concentration of the syrup gives this delicious confectionary its hard, translucent structure.


Calissons d'Aix-en-Provence

A trip to Aix-en-Provence wouldn’t be complete without tasting this delicious candy. The origins of this almond shaped sweet are fittingly delightful, created to celebrate the second marriage of King René to Princess Jeanne de Laval in 1454. Calissons are made from almond paste, candied melon and orange peel on a thin layer of wafer, topped with royal icing. It’s impossible to leave without one of these heavenly confectionaries melting on your tongue.


13 desserts (Christmas)

The 13 desserts represent Christ and the 12 apostles at the Last Supper. The presentation of 13 desserts is one of the most celebrated in Provence today. The table is set with three cloths and three candles to represent the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The tradition includes a collection of fruits, nuts, breads, biscuits, and pastries to be eaten before Christmas Eve midnight mass.

The desserts include:

 The four beggars

  • Raisins representing the Domenicans
  • Hazelnuts or walnuts to representing the Augustines
  • Dried figs representing the Franciscans
  • Almonds representing the Carmelites



  • Black and white representing good and evil.

Pompe à l’huile – The Olive Pump

  • A pastry made with olive oil and orange blossom water including fougasse or brioche, designed to be broken as Jesus did at the Last Supper.

The six remaining items are made up of a selection of other fruits, nuts and pastries


The content of the 13 desserts of Provence can vary; this is an example of a typical choice:

  • Raisins
  • Walnuts
  • Figs
  • Almonds
  • White Nougat
  • Black Nougat
  • Prunes
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Cumin and fennel seed biscuits
  • Sweet Biscuits
  • Quince Paste
  • Fougasse