Snapshots from France: Nutty Sweets and Biscuits from Brittany

That's Nuts

A weekly dose of nutty history, pop culture, and recipes from Lee Zalben, aka The Peanut Butter Guy.

"Almost every nut is represented here."

While traveling through northwest France, I was on the hunt for new, nutty discoveries in Brittany. Strolling through the tiny historic tourist village (or "petite cite de caractere" as the French call it) of Rochefort en Terre, I stumbled upon a tiny shop, L'Art Gourmand, and was blown away by all the nutastic treats.

In this little sixteenth century stone building, Hubert Levaufre, a Frenchman from Normandie, showcases some of France's best traditional biscuits and sweets, many with a nutty twist.

Levaufre was trained through the French apprenticeship system, the "Conpagnon du Tour de France," where young artisans travel to different towns and work side by side established masters. A 20-year veteran of the pastry and confection arts, Levaufre's creations are impressive.

Levaufre's main shop is in the town of Thionville in the northeast part of France where he and his four assistants create everything from scratch on a daily basis.

Self-Service Sables

Almost every nut is represented here: almonds, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, even humble pignolis, not to mention one of the largest, most playful assortments of marzipan I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot of marzipan). Puppies, dinos, bunnies, pigs, and an assortment of fruits—all in marzipan form. The 20 varieties of homemade ice cream were also delicious.

See all the photos in the slideshow »

L'Art Gourmand

Rue du Château, 56220 Rochefort En Terre (map) +33