It wasn’t until I came to France that I was able to understand what exactly Hot Chocolate is supposed to be. I have always been a fan, not just of chocolate but hot chocolate as well. They actually call it French Hot Chocolate, because it is nothing like what one would think. This should be on your list of things to try on your next trip.
In the past couple of years I have visited well over two dozen different boutiques for their version of liquid love I would happily choose as a meal replacement. I have come to regard each cup as a unique flower; while some people like roses, others prefer lilies. I can appreciate them all, but have some shining stars to share. Join me this winter as I debut a new holiday tour…Paris Potions!
We will share several drinks some containing alcohol, and a couple non-alcohol options. We tour two distinctly different areas of Paris full of history and secrets and mostly the spots that the locals haunt. We will commence our explorations with an espresso moving on to hot chocolate, before sampling local beer, French wine or craft cocktails.
Your tour will be customized to cover the areas of Paris you’re most interested in seeing, and your particular preference in beverages. Don't worry, I know the best spots! We will also visit some of the unique holiday instillations, with the much desired café time that makes the city unique.
The Mayans were the first to drink chocolate over 3000 years ago and it was not until the 1500’s that it became fashionable in France, though it had been served in Spain for a couple hundred years longer.
While the reigning Parisian Queen of Hot Chocolate remains to this day the famous; Angelina, I have found a few other great contenders. Their thick beautiful ‘mother’ of all French Hot Chocolates appears on every critics list of the best in Paris.
They have cafes attached to almost all the major museums in the city, though my favorite spots are on the terrace in the Louvre or the Flagship restaurant on Rivoli. I like to call it the Starbucks of Hot Cocoa, it is reliable and consistent. You will not be disappointed unless you don’t care for chocolate; in which case you shouldn’t be reading this. The best part of it being located in the museums is that they are usually cold enough in summer for you to indulge in a hot beverage without looking awkward.
Mick Jagger is known to frequent Jacques Genin for these quality high end chocolates. They have a couple locations, but the one located in Les Marais, features a small seating salon, where you can enjoy the slightly herbal version of the treat. It is unique, subtle, and defiantly for an advanced chocolate pallet. You can order fresh cream if you would like on the side, and they have lovely teas for the crazy people that don’t want to join you in the culinary quest.
While I would rate Chocolaterie Cyril Lignac as the top hot chocolate in the city, I sadly cannot because they serve it in a paper cup. Chef Lignac is a known Michelin starred mogul with television shows and restaurants making amazing products and history. I do recommend you try anything he creates, but I think that serving caviar with a plastic spoon is just sad.
I have two amazing recommendations on the Isle of St Louis in the heart of the city. One is the famous ice cream parlor Berthillon where they serve a Hot Chocolate Affogato that is a unique indulgence.
Traditionally the Italian drink; Affogato, is a shot of coffee with ice cream. This one uses pure melted chocolate instead of the coffee. Beware when you order this, it is going to be like a hot fudge Sundae buffet, and will delay any other eating adventures for a period of time.
You’re presented with a silver platter that displays a variety of containers for your creation; melted chocolate, two scoops of the ice cream flavor of your choice, milk, whipped cream, nuts and a cookie. You are the master of your own perfect creation.
Since I really want to focus on the chocolate and not the ice cream, I prefer going a couple doors down to the unassuming Isle of Charlotte. Which is a hidden gem only open limited hours making it even more exclusive and treasured.
When you order your drink, be prepared to wait awhile. The hand crafted Belgian chocolate delight contains in the least, one entire chocolate bar, melted for your consumption. They serve it in Le Chocolat à l'ancienne style, which translates as Old Fashioned Hot Chocolate.
This basically means that no water or milk is added. It is a thing of beauty and definitely worth the wait. Some feel it is a bit on the rich side, but if you’re a trained professional like myself, I’ll be happy to recommend a couple other versions that are not for the faint of heart.
If you like your chocolate to be unsweetened like a true Mayan, try Charles Chocolatier on Rue Montorgueil where you add sugar on your own. While there are plenty of variety in the city your perfect cup depends on your taste. Many people prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate. Either way, I guarantee that you can find your perfect match in Paris.
When you’re faced with a menu of choices here are a few guidelines to explain the differences. The term “Viennois” hot chocolate, means it will be served with whipped cream. Often this can be ordered as an extra but this particular type will arrive with an overflowing white light creamy dream of yummy goodness. Do not assume whipped cream will come with your drink unless it has this word attached. Marshmallows are very popular in Paris, but not typically served with Hot Cocoa.
Chocolat chaud traditionnel, and the above mentioned l’ancienne refers to the undiluted version thought some use special water and organic milks as well. While this cup of love may seem like more calories than you can justify, I guarantee it will fuel you for a full day of touring. It will also prime your pallet for something savory when the buzz wears off. I would like to reminded you that Chocolate has medicinal qualities so don’t be too hasty in judging consumption.
I have tried some of the best and some of the worst that Paris has to offer. There are plenty of places serving a “normal” hot chocolate. Don’t assume you’ll have the above delights in the typical cafes, but you will more often than not have a good cocoa. I am always happy to help guide you thru your next great adventure in the town that knows how to celebrate the good things in life. Be sure to contact me if you would like to purchase a gift tour for a visiting friend or family member and mention The Hot Chocolate Blog to get 15% off. Santé!