Although chocolate may have been conceived in Mexico, it was indisputably perfected in Europe. The most euphoric chocolate experiences I’ve ever had were in France, Belgium or Switzerland.
Recently, I was lucky enough to enjoy two glorious weeks touring throughout France with my family. We ate chocolate croissants for breakfast. Every. Single. Day.
And in each city and town we visited, I made it a priority to seek out a local chocolatier.
I savoured some wonderful chocolate, befriended interesting chocolate enthusiasts and enjoyed every delicious moment of the trip.
We spent our first week in Cannes and discovered more than one special chocolate shoppe. The very best, without hesitation, was Jean Luc Pele. You are first drawn in by the colourful macaroons (my favs were flavoured with champagne - of course). Once inside, you can’t help but stay for an array of mouth-watering milk and dark chocolate. The staff were so lovely and when we returned a few days later, they remembered us and we were treated like family.
Also in Cannes was Shies. They clearly cater to a more upscale clientele and were anything but hospitable. The chocolate was extraordinarily expensive (a small box for more than 100 euros!) and the service was absent. In fact, the staff were brisk, cold and noticeably irritated that I dare bring a child into their shop. The dark chocolate wafers that we purchased (one of the few budget friendly chocolates) were, admittedly, delicious. But they were not nearly as good as any of the other chocolate I tasted throughout France. Someone should write a memo to the jet-set crowd that this is one instance when you are most definitely not getting what you pay for.
We also spent a spectacular day meandering through Monaco and Monte Carlo and were delighted to stumble upon the Chocolaterie de Monaco. Since 1920 they’ve been dazzling locals and tourists with their phenomenal chocolate. The location is charming and the store’s aroma captivating. Although they did have some verrrry expensive selections, unlike Shies, the price was warranted and there were also a host of options for every budget. We chose some amazing milk chocolate squares that had a hint of cayenne to tease the palette. Perfection.
In Paris there was no shortage of chocolatey options. The first we visited was the famous La Maison du Chocolat. It was impossible to miss it with locations all over the city and I am glad we stopped by. We chose a gorgeous box of filled chocolates – each more awe-inspiring than the next. These were the kind of chocolates you must devour in one sitting. A fabulous treat after a long day of walking the streets of one of the world’s most stunning cities.
All the chocolate we tasted was incredible and I positively enjoyed being a chocolate-tourist on a quest to discover the best chocolate each locale had to offer. And I did, indeed, find the best. In fact, I spent an hour in chocolate heaven at the fifth and final chocolate destination of our travels. There, I met the quintessential chocolate connoisseur and had a chocolate tasting like no other. It almost defied words. This experience deserves a whole post in itself so I shall leave you waiting just a bit longer to hear all about it.
For now I bid you au revoir. Stay tuned for the chocolate discovery that very well may have changed my life…
Vive la France!