01 March 2008

More about Montrichard

After I wrote about going to Montrichard a few days ago, Louise mentioned in a comment she had been there and visited the chocolate shop run by Serge Granger, who has won the Meilleur Ouvrier de France award — Best Artisan in France. Winners of that distinction are a select group to be a part of. Granger is a pâtissier-chocolatier, a pastry chef and chocolate maker.

This is Granger's boutique (I think) in Montrichard,
with the storefront painted the color of chocolate.

Now that I know about Serge Granger (here's a link to a web page that features him and his work), we'll try to stop in there when some good friends from California visit in April. Thanks for the tip, Louise.

Montrichard seen from downriver on the banks of the Cher

On the same subject, the question of a Serge Granger specialty called Malices du Loup came up. They seem to be considered a specialty of our département, le Loir-et-Cher. I found a PDF document on the web that describes them and lists 20 or so shops in the area where they are made and sold, including one in Saint-Aignan run by Jacky Quéré. I'm pretty sure his shop is called La Pâtisserie du Château, and I've bought bread and pastries there often over the past five years (I'm not a big chocolate eater).

The rooftops of Montrichard, the church, and
the château, which dates back to the year 1000

According to what I read, Malices du Loup are candies in the shape of a triangle with a thin crust and a cream center made of hazelnuts, honey, and almonds, flavored with orange and anise. The name Malice du Loup means "mischief of the wolf." I think the word malice in this case is a kind of pun on délice, which means something delicious, a treat, a delight. I'm not sure what the loup, the wolf, has to do with it. Maybe somebody else does.

One thing I haven't yet done is climb up into the old fortified
château at Montrichard. Maybe this spring or summer...

The web page I linked to above points out that the Loir-et-Cher département (which includes the towns of Vendôme, Blois, Chaumont-sur-Loire, Chambord, Cheverny, Montrichard, Saint-Aignan, and Romorantin) is not especially well-known for sweet pastries and chocolate. Nonetheless, the famous Tarte Tatin was invented here, as were Malices du Loup and another candy called La Sainte Larme (The Holy Tear).

Montrichard, pop. 4,000. The businesses get some tourist
trade, of course. Chenonceau is only a few miles down the river.
But most of the trade is local and businesses are open year-round.

Another local specialty is the cookie called an Aristocrate that is made with sugar, honey, almonds, eggwhites, and a little bit of flour. Aristrocrates are good with a glass of Vouvray (a local sparkling wine, among the many made here) or champagne. You can still buy Aristocrate cookies in the bakery where they were invented in the late 19th century in Neung-sur-Beuvron, in the Sologne near Romorantin.

Montrichard is on the Cher River about 17 km/10 mi. west
of Saint-Aignan and the same distance south of Amboise.

The Loir-et-Cher is much better known for its wines, goat cheeses, river fishes, game (birds, venison, hare, boars), asparagus, and strawberries than for sweets, but in fact there is something here for every palate. This is France, after all.

This is the only bridge across the river at Montrichard.

My purpose in starting this topic was to post some more pictures I've taken over the years in Montrichard. I didn't know what I was going to write about, and look what happened. I got carried away on the subject of chocolates and pastries, and I learned quite a bit doing some research on the Internet.

Pictures taken in Montrichard in December 2002 (you can see
Santa Clause shinnying up the rain spout in one of the pictures)

Oh, and by the way, I wanted to post a couple of "before" pictures of those old half-timbered houses on the main street in Montrichard that have recently been painted in garish shades of red and yellow. These are two pictures of the same two houses, one taken from each direction on the street. The houses are probably 500 years old. They looked more authentic before, don't you think?


  1. I rather like the before-surgery-houses. But then, I feel the same way when people do it to their faces! The village is interesting, 1000 years!!! It's a bit grey compared to Provence. Probably the sky. Now that you mentioned those chocolates, I'll go and visit a new "Chocolaterie" which just opened on Yonge St. Yes, in Toronto!

  2. Hello Claudia, my pictures were taken in different years but always in either December or February. That explains the grayness, I think. Enjoy the chocolates.

  3. I vote with Claudia- the houses look better before their refinishing. I remember being shocked at seeing Notre Dame all clean after her sand blasting years ago. I think clean is better, but I had gotten used to black and dirty.

    You made me want to see Montrichard and homesick for France. It just takes thoughts of chocolate and pastries that I've never tried to make me want to be in France.

    I have enjoyed this post a lot. I didn't know that tarte tatin was invented near you or the stories of these pastries.

    The larmes one is certainly special and funny. The tear was from Jesus when he wept and brought back by a knight I think. We didn't have snopes.com to check out things back then, so pastries were born.

    I supose all those kings and nobles needed fine food to munch on when they came to the Loire on holiday, so the bakeries were born.

    Great post, Ken. You need to put all this into a book some day.

  4. When Louise mentioned Malices du loup in her comment, it didn't ring a bell. But know that you say they have a triangular shape it reminds me of hard cookies that our cook used to bake when I was a boy. They were several inches long, had a triangular shape and were called Dents de loup. I haven't seen those in ages! Were they the ancestors of
    Malices du loup?

  5. CHM, I don't know of course whether Dents de Loup and Malices du Loup are related in any way, but there's a recipe and picture of Dents de Loup cookies here. On another site I saw them described as a specialty of Alsace.

  6. It seems to me that "malices du loup" doesn't mean much if you don't know about dents de loup which is very clear since wolves are supposed to have long teeth. See Little Red Riding Hood.
    On this web page,
    it says, "Plus récemment, une autre spécialité sucrée a été inventée en Loir-et-Cher : les Malices du loup. Ces petites pâtisseries de forme triangulaire abritent, sous une écorce de sucre finement dorée, un mélange de miel, de noisettes et d'amandes, dans une pâte fondante aux arômes d'orange et d'anis."
    "Plus récemment" probably means 20th century. I have no doubt that dents de loup existed long before, since you have recipes from every corner of France.
    And "malices" are triangular just like "dents."

  7. Oh, and I thought Malices du loup were chocolate! They are a confiserie but not made with chocolate. I really need to go to the Pâtisserie du Château in Saint-Aignan and buy some so I can see what they are. Maybe I'll go tomorrow morning. And maybe the pâtissier will know why they are called by that name.

  8. Ken, I hope I'm not repeating myself here, but my first post seems to have been lost. I appreciate the info you've found about malices du loup. The name intrigued us (the flavor less so). The photos of M. Granger with his students, his caramels, and his chocolates made me wish I could be a stagiaire. Caramels au beurre salé are something I'd love to master, but they may not be part of his repertoire. They seem to be a specialty of Normandy. If I'm wrong about this, please let me know and we'll have a reason to return to Montrichard.


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