While living in Montpellier, I took a trip to the gorgeous town of Pézenas, just 1 hour outside of the city. Host to playwright Moglière and his theatre group l’Illustre Théâtre in the 17th century, the town has a rich culture in the arts. It is also famous for its many period mansions (known as hôtels particuluers, its stone sculptures, ornate doorways – it even has a museum entirely dedicates to doors! Strolling through the town’s narrow cobbled streets, I truly felt as if I was walking in the footsteps of Moglière all those years ago. I was pulled back in time.
Being a foodie, before going anywhere, I always read up on the best places to eat and find out if there are any local specialities to try. Pézenas boasts two culinary inventions: le petit pâté and berlingots.
Les Petits Pâtés de Pézenas
Known as the Pézenas mince pie to us anglophones, this little cotton-reel shaped pastry pie was introduced in the mid-18th century by the indian cooks of English nobleman, Lord Clive, Govenor of India whilst he was staying in Pézenas. Apparently, Lord Clive didn’t trust french cuisine! They were served warm as an amuse-bouche before a meal, with a glass of white wine.
These little pies are filled with sweet minced mutton, spiced with cinnamon, cumin and nutmeg, encased in a savoury pastry and are now sold all over the town.
I tried a petit pâté from 2 different patisseries to see if there were and differences in their production. Patisserie #1 was definitely my favourite – the filling was much more generous and slightly less sweet than the second (below), which seemed to have hardly no meat in at all and a very runny, syrup-like filling.
Berlingots are boiled sweets made from a syrup of candied fruits and come in the form of a pyramid with white stripes. They come in many different flavours and colours. I went for a green, purple and white striped fig berlingot.
Sweet treats aside, Pézenas is well worth a visit, regardless of your interests. Whether you are looking for a relaxing stroll around historical cobbled streets, a spot of shopping, a coffee or cheeky glass of wine with friends or a search for some great antiques (the town is well known for it’s antique shops), Pézenas offers it all. See my review of Restaurant Le Saint Roch in the town centre here.