Europe's chocolate craze
Chocolate. It can be a daily comfort food or an occasional sinful delicacy. It’s available in all colors, shapes and flavors. If you’re a fellow chocoholic, take advantage of Europe’s world famous shops, festivals, tours and museums devoted to our favorite confection.
Sinfully sweet shops
Here are a few magical chocolatiers to peruse during your trek across the continent.
Berlin: After seeing Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag and iconic radio tower, stop by Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers to see large-scale, detailed chocolate models of these monuments. Browse the exquisite chocolate counter, then head upstairs to the café. Choose from three types of hot chocolate and 20 decadent single-serving cakes. It’s best to go with a group so that you can order several to try; you won’t be able to pick just one.
Want more? Drop by Confiserie Mélanie and Leysieffer. Or devote your day to chocolate at the massive Rittersport Bunte Schokowelt.
Brussels: Eating authentic Belgian chocolates should be on the top of your list. If you’re a chocolate aficionado, head to Pierre Marcolini, a sophisticated boutique that emphasizes chic form and innovative flavor. Relish a box of Gourmandises, as well as chocolate pralines, truffles and filled squares.
You’ll find chocolate shops at every turn in the capital of chocolate. Neuhaus sells a plethora of chocolate, candies and buttercream bonbons; Mary has been the official chocolate vendor for Belgian royalty for more than 70 years; and Leonidas boasts more than 20 Brussels locations.
London: On several occasions, William Curley has been honored as Britain’s Best Chocolatier by the Academy of Chocolate. Visit the Belgravia, London location during the weekend to stockpile bonbons, and settle in for one temptation or a five-course sampler at the dessert bar. If your chocolate craving continues, venture to Paul A. Young, Prestat or Montezuma’s Chocolate.
Paris: At Un Dimanche à Paris, eat chocolate and grab a café au lait or chocolatini at the chocolate bar and shop. For a gastronomic adventure, book a table at the restaurant; you’ll find that cocoa is a component of each dish. Take a course to learn the art of French macaroons, fudge and ganache. Paris has more than 300 chocolate shops, but make sure you check out Christian Constant, La Maison du Chocolat and Pierre Hermé. For mouthwatering desserts and the densest hot chocolate in Paris, have a seat at Angelina’s.
Zurich: Stop by a Confiserie Sprüngli shop for truffles, tortes and treats, oh my! Don’t leave without buying Sprüngli’s signature Luxemurgerlis, one-bite macaroons in a palette of vibrant colors and tastes. Other best bets in the city include Truffe, Conditorei Péclard im Schober and Teuscher.
Chocolicious museums & factories
Discover the history and techniques involved in the production of Europe’s fantastic treats with a day at a chocolate factory or museum, such as these.
The Cologne Chocolate Museum has a chocolate manufacturing area and interesting temporary exhibits. Book a tasting experience that pairs chocolate with coffee, beer, wine, rum or tequila. Try melted chocolate and snap a photo at the 10-foot-tall chocolate fountain.
In Birmingham, England, Cadbury World is a family funhouse reminiscent of Willy Wonka’s whimsical chocolate factory. Walk through exciting attractions, make your own chocolate, and shop at Cadbury’s largest store.
Chocolaterie Duval in Brussels offers tours of the work area, but you can also take part in the process. Finish with a tasting.
Discover the origins of chocolate as you journey across the world at the Côte D’Or Temple of Chocolate, located in Halle, Belgium. The impressive exhibits of an ancient temple, Spanish ship and historic chocolate factory will fuel your child’s imagination.
Festivals celebrating chocolate
Europe has dozens of chocolate festivals. To find dates for the festivals mentioned below and more, visit Stripes.com and review the upcoming events section.
The ChocolART festival occurs each December in Tübingen, Germany and features more than 100 chocolate vendors from around the globe. Purchase holiday gifts and relieve stress during a chocolate massage. Gaze at chocolate-infused artwork, and let kiddos play with their food at the Children’s Chocolate Workshop.
Perungina, a chocolatier in Perugia, Italy, has manufactured the loveable Baci chocolate kisses for nearly a century. Every October, the EuroChocolate International Chocolate Exhibition causes sensory overload for shoppers as they ogle more than 6,000 chocolate concoctions and contemplate which to nibble. Book a tour for a tasting journey at vendors from your choice of chocolate-producing regions.
The Cioccolatò event honors Italy’s love of chocolate each fall. Turin’s historic squares bustle with exhibitors offering quality confections. Browse chocolate stands, admire the plazas’ Baroque architecture and peruse Italian boutiques.
London’s Chocolate Festival takes over the Southbank Centre Square in March and December. Dozens of chocolatiers dazzle patrons with elegant and tasty culinary creations. Concoct the chocolate bar of your dreams, observe chefs in action at the Chocolate Cookery Theatre, and warm up with hot chocolate. The Chocolate Festival phenomenon also overtakes Bristol, Brighton and Oxford each spring.
Crème brûlée, crêpes, chocolate mousse and éclairs are indulgent desserts from France, and the French have developed a fanciful chocolate festival to showcase this talent for all things decadent. The annual Salon du Chocolat began in Paris and now makes its way to other French cities, as well as London, Brussels and Zurich. Watch bakers put on a show, let kiddos cook up something special at various workshops, and don’t miss the runway shows, where the fabulous and impractical couture — frocks, crowns, purses and more — is fashioned from hundreds of pounds of chocolate.
Even more chocolate
If you still need a chocolate fix, consider one of these unique excursions.
Get an insiders’ guide to chocolate in Europe’s great cities, complete with free samples, demos, discounts and interesting trivia. Reserve spots for London’s Chocolate Ecstasy Tours and Brussels’ Le Chocolat, L’Or Noir Des Bruxellois or Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop.
Schedule a Chocolate Weekend at the Chocolate Boutique Hotel, where you’ll find more than a mint on your pillow. Demos, courses, tastings, “choctails” and more chocolate await you in Bournemouth, England.
Luxuriate in chocolate at Paris’ After the Rain spa. Release tension with a chocolate massage and lather up during your chocolate soak.
Hop aboard the Chocolate Train in Montreaux, Switzerland to travel through the land of Swiss chocolate while sipping rich hot chocolate. Purchase cheese in Gruyeres, and for the grand finale, tour the Nestlé factory and chow down on chocolate. Book your trip through Rail Europe.
Afternoon tea is an essential cultural and culinary pastime in the U.K., and London offers many teas for chocolate addicts. Book the fourcourse Confessions of a Chocoholic Afternoon Tea at the Podium Restaurant or the chocolate afternoon teas at the Landmark London Hotel and the Milestone Hotel. One Aldwych Hotel serves a “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” themed afternoon tea, recreating delights from the fictional confectionary factory.
See the Eiffel Tower, London Bridge and other magnificent sights on your bucket list, but make time to savor European chocolate. Review the sidebar for links to these great chocolate destinations and start planning your sweet escape.