I knew calissons when I first came traveling in France more than 10 years ago. I saw them everywhere in Lyon, Nice and Marseille. They are easily recognizable because of their rhombus shape with round angles. At that time, I did not know what they were exactly made from. I bought some to give to my friends when I went back to Hong Kong.
If you have not “met” calissons, do not say that you have visited France. This famous candy originates from Aix-en-Provence from the 15th century. That’s why they are also called Calissons d’Aix. They are made from a fine paste of candied melon (or other candied fruits) and almonds ground together, topped with royal frosting and placed on a base of unleavened bread. I am a super fan of almond. I was very happy to discover this shop which sells many flavors of calissons and serves calisson-flavored cakes. Let me bring you to this amazing place.
My friends and I arrived on a Sunday afternoon having a common goal – trying their desserts. When I opened the entrance door, a colorful candy world appeared in front of me. There are many calissons of different flavors, various sizes and other types of confections like nougat. I wanted to buy them all, construct my own candy world and immerse myself in it.
After walking through a long corridor “decorated” by calissons, we arrived at the back where we could sit down and enjoy their desserts specially made with calisson flavours with a tea or coffee. We were so gourmand that we ordered all their 4 cakes and 2 out of 3 ice cream desserts:
1. Traditional Cake
- Italian meringue orange zest
- Orange-flavored cream
- Almond paste with orange zest
- Crunchy almond
- Almond biscuit with orange blossom
2. Lemon Vanilla Cake
- Italian meringue lemon zest and lime
- Lemon vanilla cream
- Almond paste with lemon zest
- Lemon / vanilla crunchy almond
- Almond biscuit / orange blossom and shredded coconut
3. Caramel Cake
- Italian caramel meringue
- Caramel cream
- Almond paste and caramel powder
- Crunchy caramel almond
- Almond biscuit / caramel and shredded coconut
4. Chocolate Cake
- Italian chocolate meringue
- Chocolate cream
- Almond paste with dark chocolate chips
- Crunchy chocolate praline
- Chocolate almond biscuit
Ice cream desserts
1. Raspberry (We did not try)
- Raspberry sorbet / calissons ice cream / dacquoise almond / traditional almond paste
- Strawberry sorbet / calissons ice cream / dacquoise almond / traditional almond paste
- Melon sorbet / calisson ice cream / dacquoise almond / traditional almond paste
The flavors of the cakes are quite original with their four different layers. There is one main taste in each cake coming with harmonized sub-tastes. Take the Lemon Vanilla Cake as an example. The lemon taste is very vivid and the almond paste accompanies it nicely. The overall chocolate in the Chocolate Cake is well-balanced with a slightly bitter hint. The mousse on the upper layer is creamy and smooth. The layers go from the softest to the hardest from the top to the bottom. There’s just one cake whose bottom layer is somehow too hard.
The Ice Cream Desserts are basically made of sorbet and almond paste which is quite thick. The sorbet is of course refreshing and less heavy than ice cream. It is good to combine these 2 layers. The watery sorbet makes the almond paste less stodgy and it dissolves faster in the mouth. The one I ate is Melon which is not too strong, but it is just slightly too sweet. I like the calisson on the top.
Come and explore this “candy world” and try their desserts if you have not yet. They have many flavors of calissons for you to discover. You are sure to find something you will love.
Environment / Atmosphere: 4
The tea house comes with a simple design in a very long rectangular shape. The light quite bright to give you a clear vision of the desserts and candies. The area at the back with three 4-person table is cosy and tranquil (unless there are too many people in the shop). The only negative point is that there is no washroom, which is quite unacceptable in Paris where all eating places need to equip with a washroom.
Appearance / design of desserts: 3.5
It is lovely to see the cakes in the form of a calisson. The colors of the 4 layers are harmonious. The design of the ice cream desserts is somehow too simple.
I love their cakes. The multiple layers gives a consistent taste but a different texture. The ice cream dessert is a cake and sorbet at the same time. This is special. The taste is generally good.
Good and fast service with only 1 staff who is very friendly and helpful. She is efficient too.
Price-performance ratio: 4
If you love calissons, you need to go and try. It is a nice place to spend a couple of hours in the afternoon with almond-flavored desserts and a tea/coffee. The price is reasonable.
Calissons du Roy René
Add: 8 Rue de Lévis, 75017 Paris
Tel: +33 1 44 71 95 28
Métro: Villiers (Line 3), Rome (Line 2)
Price: desserts from 4€; a drink from 6€
Remarks: I later found out that this tea house has been closed down. You may still go to the one in Versailles (Address: 12 Rue Hoche, 78000 Versailles)