The town of Montargis, about 70 miles South of Paris, is bisected by the Loiing Rover and criss-crossed by so many canals and bridges (131 in total) that it’s sometimes called the "Venice of the Gâtinais." Montargis has a storied history—Julius Caesar visited, and Joan of Arc passed through after being wounded in an unsuccessful attempt to invade Paris. The Chateau de Montargis, a medieval castle, still sits on a hill above the town’s center.
Pralines, the crunchy confection made from almonds in a coating of caramelized sugar, were first crafted in Montargis during the time of Louis XIII. In 1903, Léon Mazet fell in love with a historic building in the Montargis town square and decided to buy the home for his family. In his new house, he discovered a treasure—the original praline recipe from 1636.
Mazet got to work. He opened a confectionary on the ground floor of his new home; his original shop is still in business on Place Mirabeau. Today his grandson owns the Mazet store, a beautiful, historic place full of ornate stained glass and intricate detailing. The chocolates and candies are just as exquisite. Mazet still uses the original recipe to craft their delectable caramelized-almond candies, made by hand by local artisans in their Montargis shop (visitors can watch the process). They’ve added more chocolates and candies to their selection, with a focus on almonds, hazelnuts, and nougatine.