You know a country is serious about its candy when it has a national union of sweetshops and a dedicated annual Day of Guilty Pleasures (the Journée des petits plaisirs, every October). Fittingly, Paris's candy stores are veritable temples to the sweet stuff. These are no dusty pick 'n' mix outlets – many of the best, and quite a few of the middling, stock an impressive range of nostalgic treats alongside newer, more bling bonbons. They're the perfect place for kids and sweet-toothed adults alike.
Candy stores in Paris
Not far from the Moulin Rouge, here, a different kind of pleasure is for the taking. The incomparable Denise Acabo, all ruddy cheeks and plaited hair, is like everyone’s favourite grand-aunt – a grand-aunt who happens to have run a tiny gourmet chocolate and candy store for some 40 years. Piled up, lined up, arranged just so and standing to attention in wood display cases and on mirrored surfaces are heaps of pastel-coloured marshmallows, cubes of pâte de fruit like little gems, artisanal Mazet pralines, jolly bergamot candies, and glorious jars of caramels from Quiberon caramélier Henri Le Roux. There’s more, of course, and Acabo is happy for customers to take their time ooh-ing and aah-ing while she regales them with tales of medieval jokesters, regional chocolate makers and marshmallow-making nuns.
With vintage-inspired school charts and a large map of France hanging on the walls of this light-filled candy store, shopkeeper Georges Marques is the enthusiastic schoolteacher eager to take his students on a sugar-dusted tour of the country. Apothecary jars of different shapes and sizes hold artisanal sweets from all over France – the lilac-shaded Jacqueline from Dijon, an almond paste-stuffed meringue; the deep pink chocolate Papaline from Avignon; pralines from the Loiret; foil-wrapped barley sugar from Vichy; and a host of stuffed plums, confit clementines, crystallised flowers and jelly buttons in Crayola shades. Apple for teacher? More like a light-green apple marshmallow, thank you very much.
Paris’s oldest sweet shop has been in its original location for 250 years. While there are now other branches throughout the city, this grand old store, with its tiled floor à l’ancienne and its vintage pendant lights like glassy gumdrops, is still the place to call home sweet home. The smart, orange-labelled gift boxes of candy and chocolates are always a pleasure, as are the retro treats of times gone by: butterscotch roudoudous eaten out of a shell, marshmallow ropes, pretty violet bonbons for sucking on. Word has it that dancers from the Folies Bergère up the street used to come here for a sweet treat in between shows at the famed music hall. With the selection of candied chestnuts and delicate golden-paper boxes of candied orange peel to be had, it’s no surprise they were kicking up their heels in delight.
Not ye olde sweetshoppe, this. With 33 stores throughout France and one in Switzerland, Glup’s is the brash younger sibling to the charming, wood-panelled village confiserie. Among the 250 kinds of candy sold in help-yourself dispensers are fizzy Smurfs, sugar-speckled Eiffel Towers, kilos of jelly beans, giant spider gummies, chocolate marshmallows, and Magnificat milk caramels wrapped in gold paper. There’s a good selection of sugar-free candy, too. Don’t let the sugar rush hit too soon: the candy here is sold by weight, so some over-enthusiastic shoppers have found themselves – and their bulging bags – getting their just deserts at the check-out counter.
Native Swede Lena Rosen has filled the many wooden bins in her bright, homey store with all kinds of Scandinavian sweets, including the all-time-favourite Swedish fish and the house speciality, salted liquorice. The latter is an acquired taste, sure, but Rosen is proud to tell of her many converts. Still, if the curiously savoury sweet doesn’t appeal, there are a dozen more varieties of liquorice to try, among a rainbow of gummy bears, gumballs big and small, and jars of “Merlin’s pills” for various afflictions. One promises to help a candy eater see the world through rose-tinted glasses, another to laugh at the passing of time. Tucked in among the sweet treats are bottles of Swedish jams and copies of Astrid Lindgren’s classic children’s books starring Pippi Longstocking (that’s Fifi Brindacier en français) and Emil of Lönneberga – two characters who would surely have loved this welcoming shop.