Paris is home to so many gorgeous chocolate shops that to visit them all would take a month of Sundays. That’s actually a job I would be willing to take on if anyone wants to sponsor me but for now we’ll take a look at just a few!
Paris has been the centre of chocolate for France since it became popular in the 1600s when the French King Louis XIII married a Spanish princess with a penchant for chocolate. In fact it is said she gave him chocolate as a wedding present – and he loved it (more than he loved her actually). The popularity of chocolate at the French royal court grew and in 1659 King Louis XIV appointed the first real “chocolatier”.
David Chaillou was granted the right to make and sell chocolate in France. He opened a shop on Rue de l’Arbre Sec, not far from the Louvre Palace, and he opened the first Paris chocolate house to serve hot drinking chocolate. The Royal appointment of a chocolatier lapsed when Chaillou died, but in 1780 the royal approval was revived when Chaillou’s great-great-grandson Sulpice Debauve became the official chocolate-maker of Queen Marie-Antoinette. Debauve was a chemist and he invented chocolate coins to ease the Queen’s distaste for her medicine – to this day, you can still buy the “pistoles de Marie Antoinette” from the Debauve & Gallais (Debauve’s nephew who worked with him) chocolate company.
The oldest chocolate shop in Paris is said to be the Mere de Famille shop, 35 rue du Fauborg which opened in 1761. The shop is gorgeous to look at, every nook and cranny seems to ooze history and the choice of chocolates and confectionary is divine.
5 of the best chocolate shops in Paris
Everyone has their favourite and there are a lot to choose from but we chose these 5 shops for their style, orginality and outright gorgeousness – both the shop and the chocolate they sell:
Jean-Charles Rochoux opened his shop 2004 and makes amazing chocolate figures and completely delicious chocolate bars in his cellar under the shop. One of my Parisian friends says he is a “little crazy” but she means it in a good way as in – inventive, whimsical and inspired. If you like chocolate that is art – this is the shop for you, the wow factor is high.
Jean-Charles Rochoux 16 rue d’Assas, 6th, Métro: Rennes, 01.42.84.29.45, www.jcrochoux.com
L’Etoile d’Or near the Place de Pigalle, is like a journey around the universe of chocolate.
The lovely patron, Denise Acabo, famous for her pigtails and her charm, will tell you all about the gorgeous chocolate and sweets from all over France. Friendly, fun and fabulous – make this part of your tour of Paris.
30 Rue Pierre Fontaine, 9th, 75009 Paris Metro: Pigalle
As you’d expect from the legendary chef, his chocolate shops in Paris are sublime. Describing his chocolates as “ganaches, pralinés and truffles. Each one offering different recipes and textures, different flavours”. Traditional and inventive and sold in the most amazing and gorgeous shop in rue de la Roquette and a new store opened March 2014 in Rue Saint Benoit. Don’t be surprised if you sometimes see the famous chef in the store serving behind the cashier’s desk!
40, rue de la Roquette, 75011 Paris Metro: Bastille. Website: www.lechocolat-alainducasse.com
Maison du Chocolat
Maison du Chocolat has several stores in Paris and in countries around the world and you can order online – they are renowned for not using more than 65% cocoa in their creations to avoid any bitter taste. Try their truffles – they are divine!
They run tasting sessions in French – in English if you book in advance. If you want a better understanding of chocolate – this is the place for you.
Debauve & Gallais whom we mentioned earlier have an amazing pedigree – Balzac, Proust and Brillat-Savarin bought their bonbons in Paris’s oldest chocolate shop, a gorgeous historical monument founded over 200 years ago. Walk into this store and you’ll savour the history as well as the chocolate.
30 rue des Sts-Pères, 7th, Métro: St-Germain-des-Prés. Website www.debauve-et-gallais.fr