Visit these exquisite European chocolate shops on your next trip!
It is well worth the effort.
Europe is famous for many foods and beverages, and one of the most delectable of those is chocolate. The rich, often creamy, usually sweet food made from fermented, roasted and ground cacao beans is popular from the British Isles to Germany and everywhere in between. Switzerland and Belgium’s creations probably are the most famous, of course, but chocolate shops in several other European cities also are worth a visit. We have curated a list of seven unique shops you may want to visit next time you are in the area.
Cocoa Atelier in Dublin
Let’s start our tour from the westernmost point. Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, is famous for leprechauns, Guinness, and beautiful scenery. Yet, it also is home to Cocoa Atelier on Drury Street in the city’s center. It’s been said to resemble a fashion boutique, but that’s just a fancy display for its various chocolates, macaroons, and caramels.
The shop’s chocolate ranges from 30 percent to 70 percent cocoa, so it is extremely rich but not heavy. Also available are rose and cherry macaroons, chocolate chili ganache, caramel and butter sauce and even several selections of ice cream.
Montezuma’s in London
Next, we take the ferry across the Irish Sea to Great Britain. The country may be leaving the European Union, but any worthwhile tour of European chocolate shops must include a stop there.
Founded in 2000 by Helen and Simon Pattinson, Montezuma’s has six locations that feature luxurious handcrafted chocolate bars and truffles as well as gifts. They offer everything from the humble milk chocolate to dark chocolate with pecans, walnut and dates to Ecuadorian chocolate with cherry and marzipan to white chocolate with almond and cranberry. Also available in addition to the traditional solid form is sipping chocolate, which is thicker and richer than your typical hot cocoa. Despite the quality and elegance, the store remains affordable, though.
Richart Chocolates in Paris
Next, we take the Eurorail through the Chunnel to Paris to visit Richart Chocolates, which features two stores in Paris and three in Lyon. Boasting the purest chocolate from the most refined ingredients, this store features recipes that have been tested and developed by the Richart family itself, who have been making chocolate since 1925. Their recipes have won the coveted Ruban Bleu, France’s Academy Awards for chocolate confectioners, an astounding seven times. The family’s extensive history in the business means it has moved on to distinctive colors and designs and enhanced flavors.
François Pralus Chocolate in Paris
Staying in Paris because…Why not? It’s Paris…our next stop will be François Pralus Chocolate, which has eight locations, including two in Paris and two in Lyon. This shop is gaining more and more attention, including international prizes. Along with being a renowned chocolatier, Monsieur Pralus also is the son of Auguste Pralus, who invented Praluline, a candied nut sweet brioche-type bread that includes almonds and hazelnuts covered in rose sugar and cracked open.
This shop also is noteworthy for being one of the few where the chocolatier personally roasts the cocoa beans, which come from the family’s cocoa field in Madagascar.
Crossing the Pyrenees (which isn’t necessary, there’re tunnels), we arrive in Villajoyosa, in southeastern Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea, to visit Chocolates Valor. Producing gourmet chocolate since 1881, this shop has franchises all over the country and around the world. The shop received the 2011 European Candy Kettly Award, which is one of the most coveted in the industry.
Products range from bonbons to hot chocolate to chocolate bars to baked goods to gourmet products. Villayoyosa itself also features a Chocolate Museum with tours in both Spanish and English. Their signature creation is “Chocolate Puro”, which is pure chocolate. It’s as delicious as it sounds.
Now we have to travel north again, back through the Pyrenees and then the Alps (pursuing gourmet chocolate isn’t easy) to Italy to visit the central Italian city of Pisa. Most famous for a 600-plus-year-old tower that sticks up more than two and a half feet higher on one side, the city also is home to De Bondt Cioccolato e Affini or just DeBondt for short.
This chocolate and tea shop at 82 Via San Martino (across the Arno River from the old location) features chocolate bark topped with fresh nuts and fruits as well as a lemon-lime chocolate bar that comes in at 64 percent cocoa, which comes all the way gourmet chocolate plantations in Madagascar. One unique aspect of this shop is the opportunity to try chocolate bars with varying percentages of the same cocoa, allowing to discover your particular chocolate preferences.
Traveling 200 miles north, up the west side of the Italian boot, we arrive in Turin, home to the single most studied artifact in human history along with three locations of the chocolate shop Guido Gobino.
It specializes in a particular type of Turinese chocolate known as Gianduiotto, including a newly invented coffee-flavored type called Tourinot. Other offerings include chocolates flavored with pepper, cardamom, licorice and rosemary. The shop also features interactive videos and aroma tests to teach customers a bit more about what they are enjoying.
We wind up our tour by traveling more than 500 miles northeast to Zotter Schokofabrik in Riegersburg, Austria. Founded by Josef Zotter in 1999, the country’s most famous chocolate manufacturer also knows how to be entertaining.
Along with 365 flavors of chocolate – ranging from mountain cheese to caipirinha to frankincense and wine – it also features a chocolate shop theater, cable car with a bartender serving drinking chocolate and an edible zoo. You also can get a tour of the factory that includes chocolate tastings at the various snack stations and Willa Wonka-esque chocolate fountains
So that’s an exhausting but delicious tour of some of Europe’s best chocolate shops. When you are there, ask the locals if they know of others. You might find some hidden gem. Although chocolate might not be your primary reason for touring Europe, now you will have at least one more reason and one more thing to do.
Also published on Medium.