We all treat ourselves to a bit of chocolate from time to time, but for some, the occasional bar just isn’t enough.
If you happen to have a super sweet tooth and a fondness for all things chocolate, there are a number of countries you may want to visit…
The first stop on our round trip of chocoholic paradises is one of the staples of mainland Europe’s collection, France.
As well as being renowned for producing hundreds of varieties of cheeses, France is also no stranger to the world of chocolate. Some of its most respected and historic chocolate brands include Valrhona and Cazenave.
France’s relationship with chocolate is an extremely healthy one, with the nation being known for mastercrafted chocolate bars and one of the great marriages between cocoa and pastry, the pain au chocolate.
Perhaps the best city in France to experience its chocolate concoctions is Paris, where the Saint-Germain-des-Pres district of the 6th arrondissement features a high concentration of chocolateries.
While wandering through the district, you can also encounter some of France’s most recognisable confectionary delights such as bonbons and macarons.
Belgium could be considered something of a Mecca for lovers of chocolate. The country is well-established as a hub of all things sweet and sugary, with over 2000 chocolate shops spread across the country.
Famous producers in the country include Godiva, Guylian and Cote d’Or, while the top retreat for chocolate fans should be the capital, Brussels.
As well as the heart of the city being absolutely bursting with chocolate producers and purveyors of all kinds, the city also holds the Museum van Cacao en Chocolade. The museum acts as a love letter to Belgium’s innovation with chocolate and needless to say, sampling is a major part of any visit.
Some of Brussels’ master chocolatiers also offer hands-on workshops with their delicious craft, which holds the promise of getting closer to more chocolate!
Germany’s relationship with chocolate has an impressive track record, with Germany holding the status of being one of the largest chocolate producers and consumers.
The main focus among German chocolatiers is on filled bars, with notable companies being Stollwerck, Coppeneur and Herta, among others.
The city of choice for chocolate lovers is Cologne, located in West Germany.
As with Brussels, Cologne also contains a museum dedicated to all things chocolate, which explores the history of its namesake as well as offering the ever-interesting factory tour. Visitors to the museum can get hands-on instruction in how to make tasty treats, in addition to marvelling at the eye-catching Lindt fountain.
Another titan in the art of chocolate-making, Switzerland vies with Belgium for its attractiveness to lovers of chocolatey creations.
Responsible for brands like Toblerone and the ever-indulgent Lindt, Switzerland’s pedigree as a master of chocolate creation is well established.
While the capital of Zurich is a solid starting point for those seeking chocolate on the continent, honourable mention goes to the village of Broc, which houses the renowned Cailler Chocolate Factory.
The Cailler factory is included as part of the famous Montreaux-Broc ‘chocolate train’ tour, which sets off in the west of the country and travels through the town of Gruyeres (famed for its cheese) before reaching its final destination.
Back in Zurich, a host of delectable items are produced by the city’s many chocolate makers, with praline, nutty and alcoholic truffles all on offer.
Italy is the last European chocolate haven on our list, but this doesn’t make it any less of a treat for chocolate lovers.
With delights from companies such as Amadei, Ferrero and Venchi, Italian chocolate making is steeped in quality, with the two must-visit cities for any chococentric visitor being Turin and Rome.
While Turin is famed for exquisite chocolate-based gelatos and superbly smooth chocolate bars, Rome is known around the world for its highly respected chocolate ‘cafes’, which include the much visited SAID dal 1923.
Italian chocolatiers are notable for tracking down the source of the cocoa beans they use to ensure that only the very best go into their mouth-watering creations.
While the US may not have the established heritage in chocolate making of the world’s top producers, it is nonetheless an attractive option for chocolate lovers seeking a veritable buffet of different chocolate types.
Previously, the US was somewhat infamous for its mass-produced, low grade chocolate (relative to European nations) but the industry has undergone something of a renewal with handmade ‘craft chocolatiers’ springing up across the country.
If you want a taste of something new, San Francisco is rapidly emerging as one of the centres of ‘artisanal chocolate’, which promises a return to basics and daring new flavours from small-scale producers.
Over on the east coast, New York has a lot of flare, with exotic and premium quality chocolates produced for the most discerning of palates. The Big Apple also has a number of ‘chocolate tours’ available to savvy visitors looking for samples!
Rounding off our list of the best countries for chocolate lovers is Mexico.
The harvesting and processing of cocoa into a delicious drink originated in Central/South America and it was only through later European interactions that we have such a bonanza of chocolate makers across the world today.
Mexico has kept the old traditions alive when it comes to drinkable chocolate and is also renowned for incorporating chilies into its creations. Mexican chocolate isn’t just loved by the locals, however, having placed in the 2016 International Chocolate Awards finals as well.
While Mexico City, the capital, is dotted with traditional and more contemporary chocolate makers, a city to the southeast, Oaxaca, is also highly recommended for explorers of all things cocoa.
Mexican chocolate specialties include thick drinking chocolate, as well as meticulously sculpted Mayan and Aztec-inspired shapes.
That concludes our World Chocolate Day special, if you made it to the end without reaching for the sweet stuff you did well!
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