As somebody who has always had a sweet tooth, I couldn’t resist rigolettes for long!
Everything began when my parents, who were fond of Nantes berlingots (a local variety of boiled sweets), decided to equip my sisters and I with braces. It was therefore impossible for us to bite into a berlingot without breaking off bits of wire!
In the face of our enduring despair (and their penchant for sweeties), they decided for the first time to buy Nantes rigolettes! And what a good idea it was!
Very swiftly this new type of Nantes confectionary began to compete with the berlingots! The whole family fell under the charm of the delicious rigolettes…
I have to add as well that this particular Nantes sweet treat is irresistible. Under its thin, crunchy sugary shell is hidden a soft centre of 100% natural marmalade which is usually citrus (lemon or mandarin, but can be pineapple) or red fruit (blackcurrant or raspberry). Since then, new exquisite flavours have appeared, such as salted caramel rigolettes (yum) or chocolate praline rigolettes or even special editions created for each season… Basically, it’s impossible not to fall for them!
When I moved to Nantes, I discovered, in one of the most busy shopping streets in Nantes, a superb sky blue mosaic extolling the virtues of these little Nantes sweets… Except that the shop below the mosaic didn’t sell rigolettes (quite the reverse).
By making further investigations about this mysterious mosaic, I learnt that in fact it marked the location of the very first shop belonging to the grocer Charles Bohu. And Charles Bohu was the actual creator of the rigolettes of Nantes back in 1902.
As a result of the success of his famous sweet invention, the greengrocer’s shop became a sweetshop in 1930 and acquired this splendid shopfront, which is now listed.
As for the name rigolette, well, Charles Bohu had simply named his sweet after his cat, as he was so fond of her!
And today it’s still the case that I can’t resist a Nantes rigolette for very long (though I no longer have to contend with a torturous dental device these days). I love to give them to any of my friends who stop by Nantes, just so I can pop into this lovely shop full of sugary temptations on Rue de Verdun (a couple of feet away from the beautiful Art Deco mosaic). I admire the pretty round boxes, decorated in the refined style of the last century. And I never leave with my hands empty!
And since I love Nantes rigolettes so much, my nickname for my daughter is The Rigolette, as she is my pretty little soft-centred Nantes sweetie, and always makes my heart melt with joy! Thanks a lot Charles Bohu!