A French chocolatier behind the counter of a quaint patisserie in the heart of the town sounds like the start of a romantic film but in fact it’s just a regular day in Sligo. Clotilde Rambaud, or Clo as she is usually known, runs Le Fournil in Tobergal Lane with her partner Tomasz Giderewicz. This quaint little establishment has developed quite the reputation for real French baking and exquisite chocolate confections.

Growing up near Nantes in Brittany, Clo was brought up in a typically French family. Food and cooking were always important and her mother and grandmother were excellent cooks. Clo remembers shopping at the markets, bringing home fresh produce and using it immediately. No shrink wrap packaging, no middle man, just good, fresh food. Bread and the local bakery played a big part in their lives and, like their neighbours, they often shopped for bread twice a day for guaranteed freshness.

A sweet tooth piqued an interest in baking which led to Clo going to college to study Pastry Making, Confectionary and Ice Cream. She certainly found her métier and has never looked back. She excelled in her course and in the part time jobs she held, and easily found full time work when her studies finished.

Her first link with Ireland came through a friend she’d met in Corsica who invited her to come on holiday. From the outset Clo loved the country and after the third visit she was ready to try working here. A one month work stint in Coach Lane led to her meeting Tomasz who had been a chef there for 10 years, and the rest is history.

The couple made a few fruitless attempts to leave Sligo. Clo was offered a job in a 2 Michelin Star Joel Robuchon restaurant in Paris and seized the opportunity. The experience was wonderful but the frenetic lifestyle didn’t compare with the quality of life they’d enjoyed in Sligo so they returned to their adopted home. The second time they headed to the antipodes, trying out New Zealand for size. Although with Michelin star experience under her belt, work was easy to get for Clo, it just wasn’t what they wanted. The move turned into a 9 month holiday before the lure of Sligo drew them back.

Clo and Tomasz took over Le Fournil five years ago and have made it a little corner of France tucked away in the heart of Sligo They share the baking duties supported by their small team – Camilla, Orane and Karen – while Clo looks after all the chocolate making. The birth of son Roman 18 months ago ensures a very busy lifestyle but one they love.

Clo loves living in Sligo and particularly enjoys coming up with new ideas that combine French baking with Irish taste buds. The latest is their Friday special of doughnuts with different but equally startling flavours week – what better Franco-Irish merger than the ’99 doughnut!