Pastry Day December 9th

Let’s Celebrate with a French Pastry!

French Pastries – spoilt for choice

If you had to choose just one favourite French pastry then what would it be?

December 9th is Pastry Day so this calls for a celebration! But there are so many to choose from this is going to be a very difficult decision. And it doesn’t help that the patisserie window is always such a beautiful, eye-catching display of gateaux and French pastry. Perhaps we need a French Pastry Week. What do you think?

It takes a tremendous amount of effort to pass a boulangerie or patisserie, especially early in the morning. Because that’s when the rainbow-coloured pastries on display are supported by the enticing aroma of freshly baked bread.

french pastry on display

List of the Best French Pastries

You’ll never know the real taste of France, until you have tried at least one of each of these pastries.

This is just a small selection of some of Bel-Air Gites’ favourites, in no particular order. Each one has it’s own delicious merits so as far as we are concerned they are all at Number 1.

Éclair au Chocolat – I don’t know how the French manage to make this amazing moist filling that creates such an overall deep chocolatey sensation. The icing starts to melt in your mouth as soon as you take the first bite. (My mouth is watering already, and we have only just started the list!) Some patisseries also make a coffee version, which I’m told is equally as good, but personally I prefer my coffee in a cup rather than a cake.

Gateau St. Honoré – named after the patron saint of French bakers and pastry chefs. Small profiteroles are dipped in sugar and attached to the top of the circle. This base is traditionally filled with crème chiboust and finished with whipped cream using a special St. Honoré piping tip.

St._Honoré_cake_with_chocolate
Image credit – wikipedia

Mille-Feuille – You might know a slightly different version as a vanilla slice. But the French version, sometimes called a Napoleon, is even more delicious. It has extra layers of buttery pastry, vanilla pastry cream and a thin layer of smooth icing on the top.

Image credit – www.recetteaz.net

Paris-Brest – A sandwich cake made of two round wheels with lots of thick coffee cream inside, and slivers of peanut on the top. Apparently it got it’s name from the bike race between Paris and Brest, because the gateau is shaped like a wheel.

paris brest gateau frecnh pastry
Image credit : Jordane Mathieu

Tasty Tartes

Tarte au citron – For all the lemon-flavour lovers out there. This is a crunchy pastry basket full of amazingly zingy soft lemon filling. A bit like a lemon meringue pie, but without the meringue! There’s also a Tarte Chocolat – Same as the citron, but with a soft gooey rich chocolatey paste. And who can resist a crunchy Tarte Tatin – an open apple tart, it’s baked pastry side up and then flipped over before serving.

Lemon tarte
Tarte au Citron

Macarons – All colours and tastes. Probably the French pastry that’s most popular with our Bel-Air Gites guests because macarons are nicely boxed and travel well. Assuming they make it back! Strawberry, mango, pistachio, chocolate – you name it, you can get it. There are more combinations than you can possibly imagine. It’s probably why they’re are so popular.

french pastry macarons - all colours and all flavours
Multi-coloured Macarons

Bake and Stay?

Why not have a go at making your own macarons? Send us some photos, or better still, bring a few with you next time you come and stay at Bel-Air Gites.

Book now for Summer 2021

Blue Lagoon of Charente

Pure Blue Lakes of the Charente

Just under an hour’s drive away from Bel-Air Gites is the town of Touvérac. It’s only a small town, but the area surrounding it is a protected natural site, with some wonderful hiking trails. However, this is also a place that can take your breath away. In amongst the pines there is a hidden paradise – the beautiful clear waters of ‘Les Lacs Bleus’. The Blue Lakes of the Charente.

Blue Lakes of the Charente

Hiker’s paradise

Lace up your hiking boots, get your binoculars ready, and head off on the trails surrounding the pure blue waters. It’s a good 2 hour walk so make sure you are suitably kitted out, and have plenty of water. The wet clay can be a bit slippery, so take care as you walk the white slopes. Well-sign-posted trails will take you around the old kaolin quarries.

Kaolinic Clays

Mined in the Charente up until the 1990’s, this beautiful white clay has a variety of uses. Primarily used in porcelain, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and paper-making, it’s now also used in skincare. However, the kaolinic clays extracted in the Charente were mainly used to make refractory materials to withstand high temperatures, such as in furnaces, kilns, etc.

When the mines were finished with, the holes were left open and the rain turned them into small, hillside reservoirs. It’s these old mines that now make up the blue lakes of the Charente. The water is pure and clear, but because the environment is still young, the aquatic life is still developing. So don’t expect to see lots of fish.

Slippery surface

Allow a good 2 hours to hike the complete circuit, and try and allow some time to read the many information panels. Because there are some fairly steep slopes, the trails are not recommended for people with restricted mobility. And tempting though it looks, swimming in the lakes is not allowed. We would also advise people not to go too close to the water’s edge, because if you slip, it can be very difficult to get a firm footing on the slippery clay surface. Don’t be put off though. It really is a beautiful place, and the blue lakes are a spectacular site to see.

The walk around the Lacs Bleu is one of the things I will remember most about our holiday trip. Unsure if we were in the right location, the first glimpse when rounding the bend was just breath-taking.…. Unmissable if you like nature walks!

TripAdvisor reviews

Book Bel-Air Gites

So, yet another wonderful family activity for you to plan into your next summer holiday with us here at Bel-Air Gites. Be sure to bring your hiking gear, but don’t forget your swimming costumes as well, Because when you get back from admiring the Blue Lakes of the Charente, you can take a dip in the beautiful cool blue pool at Bel-Air Gites.

We look forward to welcoming you and your family to our fantastic child-friendly gite complex next summer. Book now to avoid disappointment.

The glorious heated pool
Bel-Air Child-friendly gites in the Charente-Maritime
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