In Town: Bonne Bouche, Lewes

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Now that we have ‘after school’, we have a new tradition (which we’ve happily borrowed from my friend Anna and her daughter). This is the ‘after-school treat‘. Theirs happens on a Friday, ours now happens on a Monday – don’t ask me why, it just feels like we need a boost on a Monday, is all.

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We started this this Monday, and made the bijoux Bonne Bouche our little place.

OK, this is not a cheap option – the sold-as-singles, handmade chocolates are priced by weight – BUT the newly reopened traditional sweet shop on Landsdown Place is the wrong direction for us. Bonne Bouche is a good incentiviser for getting up the hill. And besides, having talked up the ‘secret’ element of the shop, my older kid seems satisfied with just having the one truffle.

Good. Less sugar.

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So for my third ‘In Town’, I’m paying homage to a titchy Lewes side-street secret that feels as much like a gift to discover as it does to buy – or receive – something sweet from.

THE ESSENTIALS

Address: 2 St Martin’s Lane, Lewes, BN7 1UD (opposite the High Street entrance to Lewes Castle)

Tel no.: 01273 472 043

Hours: Mon + Tue, Thurs–Sat, 10am-5.30om; Wed, 10am-1pm

Payment: Cash or cheque only

THE DETAILS

  • Mrs Elizabeth Syrett opened Bonne Bouche in this spot over 20 years ago
  • She ran the Confectionary department at Fortnum & Mason in London before opening the shop
  • When the little shop – which is beside her house – became vacant, a friend suggested she take take it, and stop commuting
  • Many of her suppliers are those that supplied Fortnum’s back then – and still do. These include: Charbonnel et Walker, Audrey’s Chocolates and HRH Chocolates
  • Originally hailing from California, Mrs Syrett has been living in England for longer than not. She’s a true expert on chocolate and confectionary.

LITTLE LEWES LOVES

The Names

My son asks me what each and every handmade chocolate and sweet is called (he’s not reading yet). So I have to lift him up and read them out as he points to them.

The lovely hand-written name cards are like poetry. I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, but they sound so tempting!

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Butter fudge, violet creams, praline cups, flaky truffles, salt caramel… Don’t they sound delicious?

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The Colours

A proper place to buy proper confectionary – rather than sweeties – should be pretty and colourful. It should feel decadent and a bit naughty (not in a rude way, mind).

We love to look at the white cappuccino truffles dusted with chocolate powder, at the white and pink sugar mice, and at the marzipan formed into fruit and pale, sorbet-coloured fondants. Just looking at them makes my teeth go furry.

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The Packaging

One of the things I think is very special about the chocolates at Bonne Bouche is the way they can be packaged as gifts.

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Sure, buy them for yourself in a pink paper bag. But for gifts there are flat, shaped boxes, and cartons of various sizes that are sealed with shiny ribbon.

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These boxes are as enchanting to give as to receive. Because you won’t remember what’s inside (especially if your child has done the choosing). And your lucky recipient will have no idea either.

Unlike a Thornton’s box, these collections have no name and no identification card. They’ve been hand selected by the giver, with the recipient only in mind. They’re mysterious to open and mysterious to eat.

We give these as presents to elderly relatives and people we want to surpriseSarah who runs Tinklers has had a few tiny gold boxes over the years! (Are we supposed to give teachers Christmas gifts? If so, Mrs McKenna and Mrs Saunders, you know what you’re getting!)

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The Pick-Your-Own Element

My children relish picking their own selection for different people. The aforementioned Sarah Tinklers (as my oldest calls her) has had a few piano pralines in her time. 

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The way the chocs are all neatly organised in little rows… Well, I have a theory that all toddlers have a touch of OCD, so this whole layout chimes in with their world view.

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My son always ALWAYS includes a pink champagne truffle in every gift. This is because this is always his first choice for himself and he gets a pog on for never being allowed one.

The sugar is crazy-making enough, I’m not up for road-testing the effect of a boozy choc on a five-year-old.

The Interior

I wonder how long it’s been since the interior was updated? I would like to think it never has. For this reason it totally speaks to me!

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The faded wallpaper, the old holiday postcards and pictures, the small, slightly sun-bleached decorative touches…

I’m pleased my children can see and experience an old-fashioned shop. Not a store with a loyalty scheme and an instant-pay card machine. Not an ‘e-tailer’. Just a proper – very cute – little shop.

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The Christmas Magic!

Christmas came to Bonne Bouche earlier this week. Mrs Syrett told me that people kept asking her when her Christmas stock was coming in. So she put the whole lot out on Monday, well ahead of when she’d planned to.*

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This is a place to head for old-fashioned chocolate Santas and lollies, shiny wrapped edible Christmas baubles to hang on the tree, and vintage-style advent calendars.

Or just for a very pretty box of treats for someone special. LIKE YOU!

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The year-round gold boxes are festive enough. But Bonne Bouche also now has special Christmas gift boxes in, which are slightly more expensive.

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*I have noticed around town that a few houses already have Christmas lights up, and one house on Keere Street already had an (admittedly undressed) Christmas tree outside it in a pot that was taken in today. I think everyone’s in need of a festive injection this year. If I’m not wrong the crap economy has been a right drag.

Disclosure: I received no financial compensation for this blog post. I love Bonne Bouche and think it has some magic to it. And it’s Christmas and this is a GREAT place to do simple gifts that your children can have a say in.

Posted by

I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

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