European Cities of Chocolate
When National Chocolate Week is finished there is no reason for not indulging in the two passions of chocolate and travel. Any time is a good time to contemplate taking a chocolate themed city break. As a travel writer I have discovered several cities worth heading to for a chocolate fix. One of these, Bordeaux, I visited specifically for chocolate. I decided to bring them altogether in one post. The following are the European cities I have discovered that are worth visiting for their chocolate. All are easily visited on a short break.
On the banks of the Rhine is the Chocolate Museum, a informative and interesting place that has its own steamy jungle with cocoa trees. The story of chocolate is chronicled from cocoa pod to the shelf. You can see a production line in action and taste the chocolate too. The chocolate made on this production line is Lindt. If the story of chocolate doesn’t interest you you can head straight to the Chocolat Grand Cafe overlooking the Rhine from its harbour terrace behind the museum. It is exactly what it says a cafe specialising in all things chocolate cakes, ice cream and drinks. The ice cream made from single source cocoa beans is something any chocoholic should try. For a full review click here.
Bordeaux This French port, better known for its wines, was where cocoa was imported from the Caribbean and has always, along with nearby Biarritz and Bayonne had a connection with chocolate. The centre of Bordeaux has more chocolate shops than any other city in France including my favourite Cadiot-Badie. The current owners father invented the Guinette de Bordeaux the signature chocolate of the city.
Brussels Famous for its statue of a little boy having a wee in public and its rather grand city square is peppered with chocolate shops and chocolatiers. You can take a walking chocolate tour with plenty of tastings or you can choose to learn to make and temper your own chocolate at one of the many chocolate workshops. The Yummy Planet Blog has a list of 10 recommended places to eat chocolate in Brussels. There is also the Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat to visit many places to indulge in waffles with lashings of chocolate filling those little squares.
Turin The home of Nutella, a chocolate and hazelnut mix, Turin rightly deserves the title “Chocolate Capital of Italy”. Every March the city has an overwhelming aroma of chocolate during the annual festival CioccolaTÒ. It is also home to bicerin, a drink of a layer each of thick chocolate, coffee and whipped cream or steamed milk developed in a shop of the same name in the 1800s. Chocolate cakes and desserts are to die for in Turin.
Salzburg Some would say Vienna should be Austria’s representative in this list. However, I have not visited Vienna long enough to sample Austria’s most famous confection, the sachertorte. Salzburg also has an hotel owned by the Sacher family where they serve the original sachertorte so you can treat yourself here to the original. It is also famous for the invention, much copied, by master confectioner Paul Fürst of the Mozartkugeln (Mozart Balls) which the current owner of Cafe Konditorei Fürst still makes today. You will only be able to buy the original in the Cafe Konditorei Fürst so beware of imitations.
London Not a city that immediately springs to mind as chocoholic’s dream but it is home to Paul A. Young, arguably the world’s top chocolatier. You can you indulge in some innovative and modern combinations at any of his London shops (there are 3 of them). My favourites are anything to do with sea-salted caramel.
London is also home any number of high end chocolatier outlets including the wonderful Rococo Chocolates. Both Rococo and Paul A. Young have workshops where you can learn the art of chocolate making.
Basel No list of Chocolate Cities would be complete without including at least one from Switzerland but which one to choose. There are numerous shops selling Swiss (and non-Swiss) produced chocolate but it is not just the chocolates but the variety of chocolate cakes and pastries that gets Basel included in this list. Confiserie Brändli on Barfüsserplatz 20 has the most delightful pralines and cake selections.
No doubt there are other places that are worth including that I have not had the pleasure of visiting or, if I have, have not discovered the chocolates. Feel free to make your recommendations in the comments below. I would be very happy to try new places; somebody has to.