*** The full version of this article originally appeared on page 27 of the November/December 2019 My French Country Home magazine. To subscribe and get the full guide, click here ***
Everyone knows the time of year to indulge is the holidays, and what sweeter way to do so than with artisanal French chocolate. Intense in flavor and of some of the highest quality in the world, experiencing French chocolate – and the shops that create it – is an unforgettable experience. As with many other things, the French glorify chocolate-making as a form of art, and across the country you’ll find meticulous, passionate artisans using only the most premium ingredients to handcraft chocolate treats that are as much of a delight for the eyes as they are for the tastebuds. While Paris is famous for a range of classic dishes, the city boasts a plethora of chocolate shops, many of which have deep historical roots.
To help you navigate, we’re highlighting three of the best chocolate shops in Paris – or chocolatiers, to the locals – so you enjoy and bring back the sweetest of gifts this holiday season!
Debauve et Gallais
Lovers of history and heritage, head this way. Undoubtedly one of best chocolate shops in Paris is Debauve et Gallais.
Launched in 1757 by Sulpice Debauve, pharmacist to King Louis XVI (who created cocoa-based medicinal drops for Marie Antoinette; now one of their most popular products, “The Queen’s Coins”), Debauve et Gallais was and remains a chocolatier fit for any king. Still referred to as the “Chocolatier des Rois de France,” the boutique you’ll find today on Rue des Saint-Pères opened its doors in 1817. With elegant cut-out windows and semicircle countertops made from gilded glass, it’s no surprise why it was a favorite of the royals.
Among the delectable legacies you’ll find inside this chocolatier are “Croquamands” (almond crunch), a favorite of Napoleon; “Fleur de Lys” chocolates, beloved by Charles X; and “Boules d’Antan,” the go-to chocolate treat for famed Parisian fashion designer Coco Chanel. Other famous French fans of Debauve et Gallais include gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, writer Simone de Beauvoir and, more recently, designer Sonia Rykiel.
30 Rue des Saints-Pères, 75007
During Paris’ notoriously chilly seasons, you’ll find both locals and visitors flocking to this chocolate shop for a taste of Provence.
Puyricard was founded in 1967 by a young Belgian couple who settled in Aix-en-Provence, Puyricard’s legacy lives on in Paris with a chocolate shop run by their son, master chocolatier Tanguy Roelandts. Having dedicated his life to traveling the world in search of varieties of cocoa beans, which he takes back to France and combines to make different chocolates with uniquely perfect balances of flavors. Roelandts’ mix of Belgian craftsmanship heritage, traditional French methods and considered use of all-natural, sustainable southern ingredients makes Puyricard’s chocolate collections some of the purest and most exceptional in Paris.
Be sure to try the traditional “Calissons” made from puréed candied orange peel and fresh melon. Who says chocolate can’t be guilt-free?
24 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006
6 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 75001
27 Avenue Rapp, 75007
After the inevitable visit to Paris’ world-renowned department store, Le Bon Marche, wander a few doors down to one of the best chocolate shops in Paris – the famous Foucher. A family-owned chocolatier founded in 1819, you’ll find one of Foucher’s two Parisian boutiques only steps away from its original location in the heart of Faubourg Saint-Germain at 126 Rue du Bac, which made its beginnings selling groceries and exotic goods, like chocolate.
Inside Foucher you’ll find traditional French chocolate delicacies such as gold leaf-topped ganaches and chocolate-dusted truffles, but the chocolatier’s true signature marker is their stunning packaging. Originally commissioned by Eugène Belville, a leading French artist of the Art Nouveau movement, Foucher’s intricately-designed gift boxes are regarded as collectors’ items among chocolate lovers and non-chocolate lovers alike.
If you go this year, you might be fortunate enough to snap up a special commemorative box released in their signature red in honor of the shop’s 200th birthday. Festive, elegant and delectable, it’s a sweet and impressive gift to bring home with you for the holidays.
134 Rue du Bac, 75007
30 Avenue de l’Opera, 75002