The lion of the meringue 🇫🇷

Where: St. Tropez, France 🇫🇷

It was the baking shelf replete with meringue resting by a wide open door—the sun shining in—that caught my attention. I walked into the confiserie & pattiserie.

I was in St. Tropez, France, for a week learning to sail. I had just finished lessons the day before and had some extra time to walk around the famous—and growing—town along the French Riviera.

“It’s all homemade,” Proprietor of the shop Leone, François Leone, said to me as I was readying to purchase a package of Pain D’Anis, a type of dry bread indigenous to the Provence region. François explained it’s made with Anise. And because of my experience in Greece meeting with an Ouzo producer, I had some knowledge about the popular Mediterranean seed.

“This shop represents a certain spirit of Saint Tropez [and] of Provence,” François would add.

The meringue

It wasn’t long until the conversation guided towards the meringue—the marquee product of the confiserie & pattiserie, and that in which caught my attention from the street in the first place.

“The meringue you see in the shop are actually Italian meringue,” François explained. “French meringue are hard on the inside. Italian meringue are soft in the inside.”

A baking shelf of meringue situated at the entrance corner of Leone in St. Tropez. The French confiserie & pattiserie has been making Italian-style meringue since 1946.

Claimed as Best in the world

The company was started in 1946 by François’ grandfather, an immigrant from Italy.

“[And] people always liked his meringue but it wasn’t such a big deal until 2006 when French magazine Le Point wrote an article about [our] meringues saying they were the best in the world.”

Proprietor of Leone in St. Tropez, François Leone, speaks about the difference between Italian and French meringue. The confiserie & pattiserie was started by François’ grandfather.

François blushed and smiled, and continued, “And then suddenly our gross income was multiplied by four or five times.”

The Leone name

François shared more about his family’s roots. François explained that like many Jewish people, his grandfather originally immigrated to Italy from South Africa. And at the time Jewish immigrants were given names after animals. And although the reason didn’t appear clear, François’ grandfather was given the name Leone, which in English, means Lion.

François’ father, Claude Leone, like his grandfather, also worked in the business. And as Claude aged, he instilled a sense of legacy for the family’s confiserie & pattiserie in François.

In this video, François Leone speaks about his father, Claude’s life while François was growing up.

St. Tropez & Provence

In the discussion, François brought to light an interesting characteristic of St. Tropez—And that is its patriotism towards its municipality. He told of an annual festival that happens with Tropeziennes (the word Tropezienne is seen commonly through the town) dress up in traditional attire, some holding “older-fashioned rifle[s]” and walk through the streets in an organized, ceremonial fashion.

“There was a time when all the cities were their own little fortress each with their own army.” François explained. “Just [normal] citizens who would turn [into] soldiers when there was a threat.”

“They [St. Tropez] celebrates this states of being ready to fight for your community.” François went on.

A steady flow of customers continued to peruse and purchase food products during my visit at the confiserie & pattiserie.

On present-day-St. Tropez and what it’s becoming, François made the comment, “Saint Tropez is turning into a little Monoco,” alluding to the growing popularity of the region and the vibe of opulence that can be intrinsically felt as one spends a bit of time in the town and area.

But he would add to this sentiment, “[But as it grows] it loses a certain spirit.”

In the old part of St. Tropez, along a cobble-stoned road, on a path leading up to the municipality’s fortress, is Leone, a third-generation confiserie & pattiserie that is the lion of the meringue.

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