On a bench sitting with his mother by the street, a special occasion in a tea room, at the park, and at home, French childrens' snack time is called le quatre heure, the four o'clock. It takes place anywhere a child happens to be. For those who snack at home, a small portioned fresh white cheese called the Petit Suisse is often on the agenda. Yogurts, creams, or mousses of various kinds are popular snacks, or a tartine, sweet or savory.
One snack that holds a lot of nostalgia is the original pain au chocolat. This is not buttery puff pastry or brioche we see lined up in neat rows at the boulangerie, but a fistful of plain baguette wrapped around a plain square of chocolate or two, a favorite for active boys. Wherever children are in their day, they slow down and recharge at this time. An industry has been built in France around the four o'clock snack.
When you are visiting Lyon, you've been walking all day, and you're ready for a snack yourself, there are a number of local sweet treats you might try from the boulangeries around town. One specialty that you will find in every pastry shop from the very fancy to very basic neighborhood shop is the Tarte au Praline Lyonnaise. You can't miss these bright red tartes, made from the traditional red colored almond praline unique to this city. Another very Lyonnais sweet treat is the Bugne Lyonnais. Although bugnes are traditionally served at festival time before Lent, they are such an emblematic symbol of Lyon that now they are sold in many bakeries year round. Keep an eye out for these sugar coated beignets, they're worth a try. If want something representing Lyon's very best in traditional pastry and chocolates, maybe you can stop into La Maison Bernachon for chocolate coated Madeleines. Tell your child or companion about the passion that goes into the artisanal chocolates that start in house with roasting the raw chocolate bean, and remember Mr. Jean-Jacques Bernachon, the patriarch of the Bernachon family and master chocolate maker, who passed away way too young this week. He spent his life devoted to producing artisanal chocolates in his family's tradition, and teaching the next generation of Bernachons the art of bean to bar chocolate making.
If you need something savory to see you through the afternoon, one nice way to get your fix is the myriad of beautiful and delicious single savory servings on display in the windows of the city's traiteurs. There's one on most every city block in Lyon. A traiteur is France's answer to the American deli. La Maison Pignol is another Lyonnais tradition, and their shop on place Bellecour is a good place to find a single sized snack to go, complete with a plastic spoon. Find yourself a park bench, and enjoy your snack sitting down, Lyonnais style.
This post is dedicated to Jean-Jacques Bernachon of Lyon, France,
who passed away on April 22.
Thank you for sharing, Lucy!
(Images: Lucy Vanel)