Being one of the culinary capitals of the world, Paris counts an honorable share of artisan chocolatiers-- cocoa experts who bring genuine artistic flair to their chocolate, and concoct the finest in both traditional and eclectic recipes. Dark chocolate is a specialty among French chocolate artisans, as are ganaches: chocolates with rich, creamy centers.
With our guide to the best chocolate shops in Paris, you'll have no trouble finding an excuse to indulge. Many of these shops are recommended by Mort Rosenblum, a veteran Paris correspondent and former editor who is also a chocolate expert.
Address: 108, blvd. St. Germain
Tel.: +33 (0)1 43 29 38 42
The chocolatier Patrick Roger recently opened a store in St. Germain: his original store is in the south Paris suburb of Sceaux. As good at tradition as he is at innovation, Patrick Roger won the title of best French artisan in 2000. He is well-known by food connoisseurs like David Lebovitz for his rochers (featuring a contrast of smooth praline filling and crunchy hazelnut flecks), ganaches, or dark chocolate complemented by flavors like lime or hot pepper. Don't miss his seasonal, and always quirky, store windows.
Address: 225, rue du Faubourg St. Honoré
Metro: Place des Termes
Tel.: +33 (0)1 42 27 39 44
Opened in 1977 by Robert Linxe (who was once referred to as a "ganache magician"), La Maison du Chocolat has several stores in Paris, and their world-renowned chocolates can also be ordered online. For those who don't like bitter chocolate, this is your shop-- La Maison du Chocolat never uses more than 65% cocoa in their confections, to avoid a bitter flavor. World-famous for their ganaches, this shop also specializes in truffles, mendiants (slices of chocolate topped with dried fruit) and bars with fruit or herbal notes.
Address: 149 Rue de l'Université
Tel.: +33 (0)1 47 53 74 40
The former head of La Maison du Chocolat, Michel Chaudun is, hands-down, one of the world's best artisan chocolatiers. Known for his whimsy as much as his mastery of the classics, you can expect to find anything from simple dark or milk bars and truffles to chocolate crafted to look exactly like sausages at his shop. Chaudun is also a talented chocolate sculptor-- he once cast a chocolate mold out of performance artist Laurent Moriceau, which was then devoured by spectators at the Palais de Tokyo. A must for chocolate lovers.
Address: 37 rue Assas
Metro: St. Placide or Rennes
Tel.: +33 (0)1 53 63 15 15
Christian Constant has two shops in Paris, one close to the Luxemburg Gardens. His chocolate is rated by food critics worldwide as some of the world's finest, and he is particularly applauded for delicacies like raspberry ganaches, chocolate-covered orange peel, chocolates with spicy or herbal notes, or his famous "palet d'or", confected from fresh cream and dark chocolate. Christian Constant also offers a dazzling selection of cakes, pastries, and five-- count 'em, five-- decadent varieties of hot chocolate.
Address: 4, rue du Pas de la Mule
Tel.: +33 (0)1 44 54 03 09
This is a lesser-known gem of an artisan chocolate shop nestled in the Marais district on the right bank. Offering a dizzying array of creations, from chocolate masks, mini-grand pianos and all-chocolate replicas of vintage ads, to classics like crispy nougatine, truffles, or mendiants, the Josephine Vannier shop is guaranteed to seduce adults and kids. Gourmet ice cream is also served here, including a flavor called "Groove", described on the shop website, cryptically enough, as "pipes of Sri Lanka". Only a visit will unveil the mystery...
Address: 231 Rue Saint Honoré
Metro: Tuileries or Pyramides
Tel.: +33 (0)1 55 35 35 96
Another renowned chocolate artisan is Jean Paul Hevin, whose chic boutique and upstairs tearoom in the heart of the Rue St Honoré fashion district merits a visit. At the boutique, high grade solid chocolate bars and beautiful chocolate pastries lie in the counter in addition to a large collection of ganache and whimsical chocolate sculptures. Hevin has a particular talent for using Asian-inspired ingredients such as ginger. In the tearoom, I recommend trying one of Hevin's signature gourmet hot chocolates.
Address: 201, Rue St. Honoré
Tel.: +33 (0)1 42 44 11 66
Michel Cluizel chocolates have been renowned since the mid-20th century, when Michel Cluizel first opened a family-run shop in Normandy. One of the rare chocolatiers to process their own carefully-selected cocoa beans, Michel Cluizel's chocolates are known for their distinct, balanced flavors. At the famous store near the Tuileries Gardens and the St. Honoré fashion district, visitors can indulge in delicious dark or milk bars, each produced from a distinct blend of cocoa beans in Cluizel's chocolaterie. Whole cocoa beans can also be purchased.
8. Pierre Hermé
Address: 72 Rue Bonaparte
Tel.: +33 (0)1 43 54 47 77
The world's most celebrated pastry chef, Pierre Herme has also won accolades for his line of gourmet chocolates. At the main shop in the St-Germain district, chocolate aficionados will find an incomparable selection of chocolate cakes, pastries, and macaroons, as well as unclassifiable confections like the famous "Death by Chocolate"--the name speaks for itself. You can also sample varieties of chocolates sure to stimulate the palate, such as pralines with caramelized sesame seeds or ganaches with orange and balsamic vinegar.