Sarah from Misfits Vintage commented on my last post on France that she "could so happily live somewhere like this, like Vianne from Chocolat." Well Sarah this post is for you! It is so true that the small medieval towns of this region are very reminiscent of the fictional town where Vianne arrives, bringing the culinary magic and joy of chocolate with her to share with its initially suspicious residents.
And here there is also great chocolate to be found! One of the shopping stops we made on our trip was this local artisan chocolatier in the tiny town of Couiza whose nougat is a long time favourite of Mr. V's. I was immediately taken by the gorgeous colours of the chocolate macaroons (pictured above), a pack of which made it into the shopping bag as well as a small bag of jaunty, foil wrapped chocolate sardines.
Hand made delights abound in this shop! How about chocolate fish and crustaceans...
Or take your chances on developing a sweet tooth for life selecting hand made chocolates of every description and filling from a giant chocolate roulette wheel...
Boxed delights - and yes a box of these beauties also came back with us under the pretense that it was for Mr. V's work mates. We managed to scoff the lot before it got anywhere near his office.
With the pace of mass production that goes with globalisation of industries gobbling up the artisan, it is comforting to know that there still exist pockets in the world where you can find authentic local produce, still being made with such love and passion that it borders on being art.
After the chocolatier we headed onto the perfumier. This regions produces some of the world's top quality essential oils and it's not hard to see why when you see the countryside around this area. We drove through fields of lavender in full bloom like the one above. Ah Southern France! It's just not possible to take a bad picture of the old girl!
We arrived at Solarama, a natural and organic cosmetics producer who started life as Fabrice Bardeaux, and whose eaux de toilettes waters and rose facial oil I have always loved. It was a long winding drive up the mountain to get there but I felt it was worth it for the wonderful Citron Vert and Lavender eau de toilette they make. We met the new owner who was a Californian lady and if you weren't just content with eating French chocolate well you can now also slather yourself in chocolate cosmetics that smell good enough to eat in the pursuit of beauty.
There was a range of shower gels, face masks, body creams and moisturisers to send any chocoholic straight to chocolate heaven with their heady mix of chocolate, coffee and vanilla scents. I silently cursed Ryanair's miserly weight limit and had to be content with my two bottles of perfume but was generously given samples of the entire chocolate range in little white plastic pots. A trip back with an empty suitcase is in order.
This area feels steeped in Vianne's chocolate induced magic. Our Californian proprietress told us the rather wonderful story of how she came to live in the area. At first she was visiting the region regularly on work related visits as an aromatherapist. During one such trip she attended a local barn dance and promptly fell in love with a local man. A long distance romance ensued until, at the age of forty two, she fell pregnant and decided to move over permanently. She now also works doing what she loves, running a cosmetics business using essential oils, natural and organic ingredients. Chocolate, flowers, love and passion. What more could anyone want!
Fa la la la la, la la la la! This is what I would be wearing if I was spending the festive season in freezing cold London. Except I'm...
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