FranceToday.com brings you The Short List, our pick of the best Paris has to offer. Here, the best chocolatiers.
Where once Lenôtre, Léonidas and La Maison du Chocolat reigned supreme, a new tribe of artisan chocolatiers has arrived, each one passionately devoted to transforming cacao into some of the most delicious bonbons (filled chocolates), tablettes (bars) and truffes available anywhere. Rethinking traditional recipes and rivaling each other in creativity, they have turned Paris into a chocolate lover’s paradise. — Vivian Thomas
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Patrick Roger 108 blvd St-Germain, 6th, Métro: Odéon,
Roger’s marvelous chocolates, silky in texture and intensely flavorful, come in a huge variety, but his palet d’or, a square of dark chocolate ganache enveloped in a thin couverture garnished with gold leaf, is a masterpiece of lingering, spicy flavors.
Pierre Marcolini 89 rue de Seine, 6th, Métro: Mabillon,
While Belgian chocolates are usually heavier in couverture and creamier in filling than the French variety, Marcolini’s are all Gallic refinement. His thin couverture has a satisfying crunch, yielding unctuous ganaches such as a refreshing thyme-orange combination; other fillings include Earl Grey tea and violet.
Gérard Mulot 76 rue de Seine, 6th, Métro: Odéon,
Primarily a pâtissier whose busy boutique also carries prepared foods and a wonderful selection of chocolates. Seasonal fillings here include the succulent mûre-mûres (blackberry), pineapple, and a spearmint so fresh-tasting it’s like nibbling on a mint leaf. Mulot also makes traditional chocolate bells at Easter filled with smaller sweet treasures.
Pierre Hermé 72 rue Bonaparte, 6th, Métro: Saint-Sulpice
There’s usually a line snaking out the door and down rue Bonaparte, but it’s worth the wait—Hermé’s chocolate macarons are dazzling, especially the limited-edition Plénitude, a dream of dark chocolate, caramel and fleur de sel (the ultimate sea salt). Noteworthy among his bonbons are the Mogador—passion fruit ganache covered in milk chocolate—and the Makassar, a frothy mousse of salted, buttery caramel coated in dark chocolate.
Jean-Paul Hévin 3 rue Vavin, 6th, Métro: Vavin,
01.43.54.09.85. Tea salon: 231 rue St-Honoré, 1st, Métro: Concorde, Tuileries,
At all of Hévin’s shops, you’ll find the finest chocolate—he’s a fanatic for the quality of his ingredients—transformed into some of the most imaginative shapes in town. Specialties include chocolats dynamiques, with such unusual flavorings as chiles, Szechuan pepper and tonka beans.
Christian Constant 37 rue d’Assas, 6th, Métro: Notre-Dame-des-Champs,
Constant is such a chocolate fan that he’s written two books about it, and this is the only place where you’ll find his bonbons, including the not-to-be-missed Vanille de Tahiti and an assortment of subtle flower flavors such as frangipani, jasmine and neroli.
Jean-Charles Rochoux 16 rue d’Assas, 6th, Métro: Rennes, 01.42.84.29.45. website
Whimsical molded chocolate figurines including cows and garden gnomes fill the windows and shelves, but Rochoux also creates 40 bonbons (his basil ganache is a prizewinner), and among his 22 tablettes is an utterly delicious bar filled with whole hazelnuts encased in crunchy caramel.
Patrice Chapon 69 rue du Bac, 7th, Métro: Rue du Bac,
A delightful throwback to old-fashioned candy shops. One wall is covered with chocolate molds, while copper melting pots and other utensils are tucked under old wooden counters, and the packaging recreates a turn-of-the-century advertising poster. In addition to a full range of ganaches and pralinés, Chapon’s pâte d’amande (almond paste) bonbons are flavored with tangerines and pears.
Michel Chaudun 149 rue de l’Université, 7th, Métro: La Tour-Maubourg,
Besides traditionally shaped chocolates, the shop is filled from floor to ceiling with trompe l’oeil délices including an Hermès Kelly bag and a remarkable glossy chocolate chestnut bursting out of its handpainted prickly marzipan hull. Two of his finest creations have been widely copied: dark chocolate pastilles filled with éclats de fève (crunchy bits of cocoa bean), and pavés, luscious little cubes of cocoa-dusted ganache.
Pralus 35 rue Rambuteau, 4th, Métro: Rambuteau,
François Pralus, the self-dubbed “aventurier du chocolat,” won the Primé Meilleur Chocolatier de Paris from the Guide GAULTMILLAU in 2009, and its no surprise. Pick up one of his chocolate pyramids: each separately-wrapped chocolate brick comes from a different country, including Madagascar, Tanzzania and the Dominican Republic.
Maison du Chocolat 52 rue François 1er, 8th, Métro: George V,
The renowned chocolate-maker, with many locations around town, also offers a Parcours Initiatique tasting session several times a month. In French, available in English for groups; reserve in advance.
Michel Cluizel 201 rue St-Honoré, 1st, Métro: Tuileries,
Chocolatier Cluizel, who transforms cocoa from bean to bar, runs the Chocolatrium chocolate museum and shop in Damville, Normandy (Avenue de Conches, 02.32.35.20.75). His daughter Catherine runs the Paris boutique, where a copper fountain overflows with molten chocolate.
Richart 258 blvd St-Germain, 7th, Métro: Solférino,
Self-designated “chocolate designer” Michel Richart divides his chocolates into seven aromatic families. His jewel-like bonbons are color coded to match, and often include such unusual flavors as star anise, fennel and curry.
Debauve & Gallais 30 rue des Sts-Pères, 7th, Métro: St-Germain-des-Prés,
Balzac, Proust and Brillat-Savarin bought their bonbons in Paris’s oldest chocolate shop, a gorgeous historical monument founded over 200 years ago.
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