Travel Info – Choco Hotspot Paris, France
The New French Chocolate
Toss a praliné truffe in any direction in Paris, and you’ll hit a chocolatier, whether an award-winning master or a modest neighborhood peddler. But lately the city seems particularly cuckoo for cocoa, as a new breed of chocolate artisans has opened up salons, boutiques and bars all over the city.
Pierre Cluizel, son of the master chocolatier Michel Cluizel, recently opened Un Dimanche à Paris, his sprawling chocolate concept store occupying three addresses in a historic back alley in Saint Germain des Pres. In the boutique, you can buy bonbons by the piece, chocolate by the block or baked goods ranging from macarons to éclairs to chocolate chip cookies, all of it made with white, milk or dark chocolate. Past the glass-walled pastry kitchen — where you can watch desserts being whipped, mixed and baked — is a restaurant and decadent salon de thé, and upstairs is a kitchen offering workshops.
Another industry guru, Chloe Doutre-Roussel, the author of “The Chocolate Connoisseur” and a former chocolate buyer for London’s Fortnum & Mason, opened her own salon in the Marais. The idea behind Chloe Chocolat is to give curious chocophiles a place to deepen their knowledge. Classes range from a basic introduction to a comprehensive study of international trends, while the two-and-a-half-hour walking tours grant access to some of the city’s most prestigious chocolatiers. Or you can skip the schooling and go straight for a chocolate and tea pairing in the sitting room.
The chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin recently got rid of the tearoom of his rue Saint-Honoré boutique and replaced it with a sleek new cocoa bar. Bypass the sculpted dark chocolate stilettos and Eiffel Towers in the street-level boutique and head upstairs to the bar. Along with a dreamy Choco-Passion cake or creamy tartelette au chocolat, you can taste some of Hévin’s newest experiments — cocoa with matcha, raspberry and ginger. Or for purists, there’s traditional chocolat chaud by the pitcher — the best in the city, according to Le Figaro.
There’s nothing traditional about Patrick Roger, who has been mixing offbeat flavors (basil, oatmeal), creating outrageous sculptures (naked rugby players, penguins) and building his empire of chocolate shops for 10 years. His latest outpost — in Saint-Germain, not far from Un Dimanche à Paris, or, for that matter, Pierre Marcolini, Pierre Hermé and a handful of other world-class chocolatiers — is his fifth.
One of the most lauded new names on the scene is Franck Kestener, who debuted in Paris near the Luxembourg Garden with silky ganaches and intense bonbons in flavors like buttery tarte tatin, fresh mint and roasted sunflower seeds. But its his cannelés that truly transcend. Though they look like the traditional tender, custardy pastries, Kestener’s treats are filled with a light and fluffy whipped chocolate marshmallow — the perfect finish to un jour chocolat.