Several years ago when Kyly Larriviere was working as a clinical research nurse in Virginia, she did a bit of soul searching.
“If I didn’t put any judgement on myself, what would I like to do?” she asked herself. “The thought popped into my mind to have a candy store.”
Larriviere’s father is French, so she spent many of her younger years traveling throughout Europe and living abroad in Nigeria and Lebanon. Because of her heritage, she has a special connection with France and is particularly intrigued by French dining traditions. She still remembers a family vacation in France when, after a lengthy dinner at a modest eatery, she was given an orange for dessert. Rather than slice the fruit the way she had seen in the states, the waiter sculpted the orange into the shape of a rose right before her eyes. This early memory sparked Larriviere’s interest in the sweets of France.
Soon after she dreamed up her candy shop, Larriviere’s husband got a job in New Orleans, so their family began an adventure in a new city. She quickly realized that NOLA was the ideal place to realize her confectionery vision.
“This concept overlaps and meshes with New Orleans so well. Here, we are really interested in our French history,” she says. “We care about food a lot.”
But she didn’t want to rush.
Larriviere began her life in New Orleans working in fundraising and slowly learning the lay of the land. She enrolled her children in French immersion school and enjoyed watching their language skills improve. To foster their French further, she and her husband put the children in a French school for a month and went along for an extended vacation.
The shop’s name, which means ‘The River Confectionery,’ is fitting for its location along the Mississippi River.
During that month, Larriviere came across an article about French artisanal candy. It was her “aha moment.” She began researching French confections in earnest, visited French candy makers, met shop owners, tasted candies, and learned time-honored methods. She traced the roots of the original 16th-century French praline (prasline) and learned how it evolved into the beloved New Orleans treat it is today. Larriviere fulfilled her long-time dream and opened La Rivière Confiserie at its Magazine Street location in December of 2015. The name, which means “The River Confectionery,” is fitting for its location along the Mississippi River.
“I picked this area based on Au Belle Choses, which was the first French store in this area,” Larriviere says. That part of Magazine Street is dotted with other French businesses, such as the restaurant Lillette, Gaie Wirthmore, which sells French antiques, and The French Library, a French children’s bookstore. It’s the ideal location for any Francophile visiting New Orleans to spend an afternoon.
Larriviere’s personal favorite candy is Henri Le Roux’s salted butter caramel, followed closely by the chocolat lait intense, but she also loves Haribo gummies for every day snacking. La Rivière Confiserie is the only United States business importing Henri Le Roux candies, so these products are special to Larriviere and to the shop. Other treats available include macarons, calissons (almond and dried fruit sweets from the south of France), and colorful savory and sweet delicacies.
La Rivière Confiserie is the only United States business importing Henri Le Roux candies, including Larriviere’s personal favorite, salted butter caramel.
Larriviere loves her regulars, who often come by for coffee. She has also begun hosting baby showers, bridal showers, and Saturday morning candy-themed French geography and culture lessons. The business has really grown in the past year and Larriviere is now shipping candies to San Francisco, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. But she is still so pleased that La Rivière Confiserie got its start in New Orleans.
“I think that one of the overlays of French and Spanish culture in New Orleans is the churches, and the bells,” she says. “When you go to a lot of cities in the U.S., you don’t hear bells ringing like you do in Europe. The bells here tie me to France.”