I still remember how excited Donna-Lane was a few months back when our train route from Geneva to Argeles included a layover in Montpelier. "The cookie store!" she explained. And when we arrived, she headed straight up the stairs, across the walkway over the tracks, and then an immediate right turn. Fortunately, we made it to the gourmet cookie store a few minutes before closing that day, and she filled a bag with an assortment of tasty "biscuits" that we enjoyed over the next few days.
She also learned that the "factory" for La Cure Gourmande was nearby. It also happens that the next novel she is writing, Murder in Schwyz, revolves around the family of a cookie manufacturer.
No surprise, then, that D-L arranged a "research" visit to La Cure Gourmande's home in Balcruc-les-bains, a coastal town known for its thermal springs near Sete, France.
BTW, D-L's blog on this topic can be found at http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.ch/2014/04/a-few-years-ago-in-medieval-walled-city.html. We expected to be hosted by a PR type, but instead our tour was conducted by none other than the founder and owner of the business, Christian, a man who is passionate about the quality products he and his employees produce. He and his colleagues showed D-L the cookie-making process from baking to boxing ... and then we went next door where they showed us their candy-making techniques as well.
My part of the "research" was taste-testing various cookies (cinnamon-dusted, chocolate-filled ...) and candies (chocolate-covered almonds, nougat, caramel) ... and I must say, I did my job very well!
After the factory education, Christian took us to their flagship retail store, which was literally wall-to-wall treats. It was especially fun to see a busload of junior high level schoolkids tour the mini-factory and store.
D-L got plenty of material to add "flavor" to her novel, and, of course, we left with a bagful of La Cure Gourmande's finest.