Consummate chocolate crafters
The story of renowned French chocolatier Puyricard is one worth telling. Not every chocolate shop starts its journey in deepest Africa and ends in Aix-en-Provence. Founded in 1968, this high-end chocolate maker was set up by a Belgian couple, the Roelandts, in what was then Leopoldville.
TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PHOTOS: ARTAIS; JEAN-LUC ABRAINI; CHOCOLATERIE DE PUYRICARD
Chocolate was not widely consumed in the Congo, but the Roelandts began supplying an esteemed clientele of diplomats, expats and the ruling President Mobutu. During the Congo Crisis, the Roelandts fled to France and made their home in the village of Puyricard, Provence. Here they established their first workshop in 1967.
In a region better known for its wines and aromatic herbs, the Roelandts set about teaching the inhabitants about chocolate while adapting the products to local tastes. Over the past 48 years Puyricard has expanded vastly: it now has 19 stores in France, with 16 across the south and three in in Paris. Master chocolatier Tanguy Roelandts, the founders’ son, continues to create recipes and expand the network of boutiques while preserving artisanal methods.
Puyricard creates delectable, 100 per cent hand-made chocolates and other sweets specific to Aix-en-Provence, like its finelycrafted almond biscui ts called calissons. Its entire range is free from preservatives, chemicals and artificial flavours, and above all never frozen. The chocolatier prides itself on maintaining its deep-rooted expertise, and using the highest quality raw materials. “There are fewer and fewer people these days making wholly-natural chocolates by hand,” notes CEO Sonia Faucher.
Puyricard offers more than 80 different chocolates, so everyone can find a favourite. “We all have a history with chocolate, an emotional attachment to it,” says Faucher. A signature product is the palet d’or, a delicious vanilla-flavoured cream ganache. Another popular choice is the peppery, mint-flavoured angelin, which was produced in collaboration with eminent contemporary dancer Angelin Preljocaj.
Every year Puyricard makes a series of collectable chocolate figurines for Easter. This year, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the French national choreography centres, the brand has again teamed up with Preljocaj to produce a limited-edition Easter egg covered in 24-carat gold leaf. Only 100 such eggs will be made.
Puyricard is one of a select few chocolatiers awarded the ‘Entreprise du Patrimoine vivant’ (EPv), a governmental recognition of excellence in French craftsmanship. In terms of future directions, Puyricard is exploring development beyond France.