Friday, August 18, 2006

Paris Chocolatiers

A chocolate crawl through Paris

by Anna Goldrein,,572641,00.html

chocolateBy-pass the museums and monuments of Paris (leave them for the tourists) and let this guide take you on an inebriating chocolate crawl. Fortify yourself with a hot chocolate, made to a century-old recipe, at Chez Angelina before nibbling your way to the deep, dark centre of the Parisian chocolate scene. You may well find wisdom and ecstasy on the way - according to Aztec Indian legend, cacao was the food of the gods, bestowing power and wisdom on those that consumed it. Alternatively, you may just pick up a few extra calories ...

Chocolate History

But before embarking on your chocolate crawl, spare a thought for those who endured life without so much as a sniff of the substance. Chocolate was not brought to the western world until Columbus returned from America with cocoa but King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had no idea what to do with the beans. In 1519, Spanish explorer, Hernando Cortez found out the secret, as he watched Emperor Montezuma of Mexico consume his 'chocolatl' (meaning 'bitter water') in goblets before entering his harem. Cortez took the cocoa bean, the Viagra of the day, back to Spain in 1528 and the chocolate craze began.

Soon chocolate had become the royal tipple of choice. Anne of Austria only married Louis XIII of France in 1615 on condition that she could bring her own chocolate supplies from Spain; Marie-Antoinette had a personal chocolatier (hey, who needs a personal trainer?) and was served chocolate with orange blossom for her nerves and chocolate with almond milk to ease her digestion. Madame de Pompadour relied on hot chocolate to warm her blood and passion for Louis XV.

Chocolate remained a royal luxury - in 17th-century France, the crown chocolatier hoarded 8lb of chocolate in his private stores, when the whole country only possessed 22lb - until the mass production methods of the industrial revolution brought the prices down. The final coup was the discovery of solid 'eating chocolate' and 'milk chocolate' in the 18th century. From now on, chocolate, dark and white, could be consumed in powerful little blocks of flavour.

But now, assailed with chocolate on all sides, the key is to rediscover quality and flavour. Where better to begin, than the Maitres Chocolatiers in Paris?

Chocolate Masters

High-flyer - Hevin

Maitre Jean-Paul Hevin's chic boutiques are on the chocolate A-list. This man has won international competitions for his creations in cocoa, and recently designed the chocolate rabbit, which starred alongside Juliette Binoche and Jonny Depp in the film adaptation of Joanne Harris' novel, Chocolat. Choose from soft sweet centres (such as honey and raspberry) and the sultry, spicy flavours of the Dynamic Collection - aphrodisiac chocolates scented with chunks of ginger, nutmeg and cinammon. Or sample cheese chocolates as an aperitif. These chocolates, high in cocoa content and made with fresh ingredients, will last around three weeks. Store them in a cool place but not the refrigerator - which may cause an unsightly white bloom to ruin the shining darkness of your chocs. Alternatively, down them in one!

Hevin's boutique on the rue Saint-Honore has a Salon de The on the second floor. Here you can order a perfectly sensible savoury meal - omelette with Earl Grey tea, for example. Or you can opt for a rich, strong hot chocolate and patisserie.

Jean-Paul Hevin

Boutique et Salon de Thé

231 rue Saint-Honore, 75001 Paris

Tel: +33 (0) 1 55 35 35 96

Boutiques also at 3 rue Vavin, 75006 Paris and 16 avenue de la Motte-Picquet, 75007 Paris.

Chocolates may be ordered over the Internet at

Metro: Tuileries

Refinement - Robert Linxe

Nowhere will you find such refined chocolates, fêted by Sharon Stone, star of the silver screen and French chanteuse, Jeanne Moreau, as at this impeccable chocolate shop. Linxe is an old master, and helped put France on the world map of chocolate in the 1970s when he opened his first boutique. His secret? A fine nose, acute business sense and artistic flair. These chocolates will appeal to sophisticated tastes. Subtle and smooth, you will find classic flavours (such as caramel and plain) but also intriguing tastes - try fennel, lemon zest and a mint that's got nothing to do with your average after-dinner number. Buy these chocolates as a present, and you are bound to impress Parisian friends with your good taste. But Linxe's fame has spread further a field than the French capital; he has boutiques in the chicest streets of Tokyo and New York.

La Maison du Chocolat

225 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, 75008 Paris

(Boutiques also at 52 rue Francois 1, 75008 Paris, 8 boulevard de la Madeleine, 75009 Paris, 19 rue de Sevres, 75006 Paris and 89 avenue Raymond Pincare, 75116 Paris.)

Chocolates may be ordered over the Internet at

Metro: Ternes


Chocolate cafés

Hot Chocolate - Chez Angelina

Join the queue at this grand Viennese cafe, founded by Antoine Rumpelmayer in 1903, a former favourite with Proust, Coco Chanel and George V and now a must for Parisians and tourists alike. Your thick, sweet hot chocolate, accompanied with cream and served on a silver tray, make it well worth the wait. Try the pastries, and if you don't want to go home empty handed, treat yourself to something sweet from the boutique.

Chez Angelina

226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris

Tel: +33 (0) 1 42 60 82 00

Visit .

Metro: Tuileries

Chocolate on Water - Route du Cacao

When the sun is shining, relax on the Chocolate barge, run by Pascal Guerreau, the former racing car driver, who is so obsessed by chocolate that he made a life-size Formula One car out of it! The barge is moored on the Seine, just by the Bibliotheque Nationale and next to nightclub barge Batofar. Wander around the little chocolate museum, and tropical hothouse (with cocoa tree) and chocolate boutique. Then watch your hot chocolate (there's a choice of five on the menu) being made in the chocolate laboratory before taking a seat upstairs in the tearoom. Far from the tourist trail, prices are reasonable. You can even have a light savoury lunch (the restaurant kitchen is separate from the chocolate lab so that the chocolate's delicate flavours are untainted).

La Route du Cacao

Quai de la Gare, 75013 Paris

Opposite the Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Tel: +33 (0) 1 53 82 10 35

Metro: Quai de la Gare

Chocolate Schools

Learning at Lenôtre

Lenôtre's cakes, pastries and chocolates - encased under glass like jewels - are world class. They are the essence of Parisien chic, each one is perfectly presented. Choose from coriander, Jeanne d'Arc cherry liqueur, Miroir Cassis (Blackcurrant caramel), pistachio and Romeo - a seductive dark chocolate. Lenotre's chocs are sweeter than Hevin's or Linxe's.

For those who have already immersed themselves in the world of chocolate and wish to learn its secrets for themselves, Lenôtre offers morning (and week-long classes). But don't expect instant results - it takes four hours for Lenôtre's 'gâteau tout chocolat' (all chocolate cake) to blossom into something that really does look too good to eat.

Ecole Lenotre

48 avenue Victor Hugo, 75116 Paris

Tel: +33 (0) 1 45 02 21 21

Visit .

Metro: Victor Hugo


All the cookery courses at the prestigious Ritz-Escoffier school for amateur and professional gastronomes are given with a translator and Ritz chef. If you're serious about your chocolate, book yourself in for a chocolate class - well in advance. These classes are snapped up as fast as chocolates on a plate!

Ecole Ritz Escoffier

15 place Vendome (student entrance: 38 rue Cambon, 75001 Paris)

Tel: +33 (0) 1 43 16 30 50


Metro: Concorde/Opera/Madeleine

Chocolate Factory

Nestlé Chocolate Factory

At the other end of the scale from handmade chocolate,
go for a tour of the historic Menier factory (built 1860-1922), just outside of Paris in the Ile-de-France region. Now a listed monument and headquarters to confectionary giant Nestle, the former factory opens to the public for free visits on Heritage Day (Journée du patrimoine), 9am-5pm Sunday 16 September 2001. The highlight is the colourful ceramics of the Moulin Saulnier, the largest of the eleven factory buildings.

Siège Social de Nestlé France SA

7 Boulevard Pierre Carle-Noisiel, 77446 (Marne la Vallee)

From Paris: RER (direction Chessy, Noisiel stop)

Chocolate Salon 31 Oct-4 Nov

This is the crème de la crème of the chocolate lover's year. Some 100,000 chocoholics, and chocolatiers from all over the world, descend on the Carrousel du Louvre for chocolate fashion shows, chocolate sculpture, chocolate awards, chocolate workshops and chocolate tastings.

Carrousel du Louvre, 99, rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris


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