Paris’ world of chocolate
Chocolatier Jacques Genin's jewel-like chocolates contain bursts of flavours like fresh mint and tonka bean. (Kim Laidlaw Adrey)
Chocolate is such serious business in Paris that every year the city hosts the world’s largest event dedicated to chocolate, where thousands of visitors are tempted by tasty cocoa goods, live cookery demonstrations and chocolate-themed fashion shows.
But for travellers who can’t make it to town for this special event (running from 31 October to 4 November), a DIY chocolate tour of the French capital is available any time of year with a visit to these four revered Paris chocolatiers.
Jacques Genin’s large, sleek boutique in the Marais district has vast glass-topped counters showcasing the shop’s tiny square chocolates – all uniform in shape and size apart from a different coloured squiggle decorating the surface – like jewels in a luxury jeweller. The infused flavours, such as fresh mint, tonka bean and coffee, punch through the chocolate with a burst of flavour. You can also sit in the shop’s tearoom to indulge in Genin’s deliciously thick hot chocolate.
Patrick Roger is a self-dubbed “chocolate artist” who pays particular attention to the flavour, texture and aesthetics of his creations in all five of his Paris boutiques. Innovatively flavoured chocolates sit alongside the classics, all with evocative names: try the Friendship (almond praline), Amour (nougat centre) and Audacity (quince jelly). The goods are presented in bold turquoise boxes, making bright, cheerful – and delicious – gifts.
La Maison du Chocolat has been a Paris institution for more than 30 years, with its several branches all decorated in rich cocoa tones. The luxury chocolatier sells nothing but chocolate made from superlative cocoa beans -- from Venezuela, Ecuador, the Caribbean, Africa and Madagascar -- in various guises: ganaches, pralines, tarts, cakes and their infamous chocolate eclair.
Quirky chocolatier Michel Chaudun (149 rue de la Université, 75009; 01-47-53-74-40) has been in the business for 26 years, making fancy chocolates in the shape of guitars, footballs, the Eiffel tower and even power drills in his atelier at the back of his Left Bank shop. He was commissioned by luxury French fashion house Hermès to make hundreds of small chocolate replicas of their famous Kelly handbag, one of which is still on display in the shop . You can also purchase boxes of chocolates filled with Chaudun’s exquisite truffles and ganaches, flavoured with notes such as pepper, lime, caramel and sherry.
Kim Laidlaw Adrey is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.