When the doors of the Confiserie Namur swing open in the morning, a crowd of cheerful elderly ladies is already waiting to be admitted. Many a woman from Luxembourg prefers to start her day with a cup of hot coffee, a sweet cream bun or a delicious piece of cake in the oldest confectionery of the City. Luxembourg – that is the capital city of the small, but appealing Grand Duchy of the same name. Here, in the heart of the miniature state, the pace of life seems to be slower than in the often-hectic German cities. But even though many a Luxembourger may be hurrying through the allies of his city from time to time, each of them will invariably slow down in front of the display window of the Confiserie Namur and in passing peek at the lovingly arranged delicacies and sweetmeats. Namur is a place of longing for anyone with low blood-sugar levels, and with its high-quality standards it is the exact opposite of a bucket full of cheap marzipan from the supermarket. Everything that is displayed in the showcase under the yearning looks of so many passers-by, was painstakingly created by hand overnight from carefully selected ingredients.
What makes our Confiserie special is our craftsmanship, the careful selection of raw materials and our love of detail. To this day, our customers value the quality of the goods we produce.
Max Nickels and his sister Anne are now running the family business in the sixth generation. As children, the two lived above the bakehouse and the Salon in the Luxembourg suburb of Hamm. Thus, from an early age they learnt in a playful manner how sweets are produced and how the business works. What is of particular importance to Max Nickels is his commitment to quality vis-à-vis his long-term customers: “We select our raw materials locally. In many cases, we have known our business partners for several decades. We buy most of the fresh ingredients, like the strawberries, from regional growers in Luxembourg, but for nuts we travel to Italy, to the Piemont, for example. From there, we transport the almonds or chestnuts to the production site in Hamm and process them in a traditional way. This enables us to create a unique taste which differs from that of machine-based mass production,” says the managing director proudly.
During his years as an apprentice and journeyman, Max and Anne Nickel’s great-great-great grandfather, Nicolas Namur, who was fond of travelling, had been compiling recipes from Metz, Paris, New York and Sacramento. After founding his first confectionery in the Californian city of Sacramento in 1854, the globetrotter finally returned to his homeland, Luxembourg. When he founded the Confiserie Namur there in 1863, the product range included mostly classic pastries and candies. Besides reverting to the original recipes of their great-great-great grandfather, today the Nickels also manufacture ice-cream cakes, truffles, petits fours, marzipan, nougat, candied fruit, chocolate and other treats. Their sales program covers a total of 2,000 different products, all of which are always freshly made and vary according to season. Every night, the production site in Hamm supplies a total of seven branches with fresh goods. Six of them are located in Luxembourg, in Esch and Ingeldorf, among others, and the last one is situated in the French city of Metz. When Max Nickels or his sister visit their shops, they use the company vehicles – a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and a Vito with curved “Namur” letterings. In the refrigerated body, the artistic chocolate creations will stay fresh and look incredibly appetizing even after the tour from Hamm to Metz is completed. And thanks to the reliable quality of the Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the goodies will always arrive safely at any destination.
The Confiserie Namur is known for its typically Luxembourgian chocolates called Knippercher, as well as for its fine ganache by the name of Mont Blanc, made from delicate chestnut purée, fresh cream and crispy meringue. Besides that, the Namur company offers numerous varieties of the popular Macarons – according to Max Nickels, this is a fashion pastry which currently seems to be very much in demand again. It does not come as a surprise that Namur produces particularly tasty Macarons as Nicolas Namur’s grandson and Max Nickel’s great grandfather learnt his trade as a master chocolatier at Sprüngli’s in Zurich, Switzerland. Sprüngli was one of the first traditional establishments to beat the egg white – a by-product from pastry production – until fluffy and thus create the Macaron classic called Luxemburgerli by mixing it with almond flour. Whether Knippercher, Monts Blancs or Macarons – all Luxembourgers, whether young or old, love their Confiserie Namur. For older citizens of the grand duchy, the continued existence of the Salons has a reassuring effect whereas young customers fondly remember when as children, at their grandmother’s hand, they used to press their noses against the shop window. As was true for Max and Anne when they were small, the most beautiful childhood memories are often the sweetest.