Valentine’s Day might be over but if you’re like me, your chocolate obsession continues on beyond the most commercialized day of the year. Some people have weaknesses for cheese, fine wine, or even desserts of any kind, but for me, it’s always been chocolate. And I don’t mean just your regular Hershey’s Kisses or Hugs…I’m talking about artisan chocolates made from the finest cacaos in the world. So where do you go to sample the finest of these indulgences? Here are the cities to visit for the best European chocolate tours.
Cities to Visit for the Best European Chocolate Tours
It’s hardly a surprise to see the European capital of Brussels leading this list of best European cities for chocolate lovers. The city is referred to as the “chocolate capital of the world” and for good reason. Brussels is where you’ll find shops and cafes from the very best chocolatiers in the world. You’ve probably heard of some of them: Neuhaus, Godiva, Leonidas, Galler, and Pierre Marcolini. As you walk the medieval streets surrounding the Grand Place; it’ll only be a matter of time before you’ll find yourself in one of the dozens of shops selling truffles and pralines, both local specialties. Dark chocolate is the preferred type in this medium-sized European city also famous for beer and waffles.
Cologne to Germany is what Hershey, Pennsylvania is to the United States. It lands a spot on this cities to visit for best European chocolate tours undoubtedly because of Stollwerck, a very famous and successful German chocolate brand that dates back to the early 19th century. So famous in fact, that at one point, it was the second largest supplier of chocolates to the United States! Visitors to the city can take a chocolate factory tour where you can watch how truffles and bars are made and spend an hour or two perusing the interactive exhibits that provide guests with information about chocolate making. Finally, don’t forget to stop by the shop to sample and take home some of the freshly made chocolates.
Switzerland is synonymous with chocolate (particularly milk chocolate), so it’ll seem like a sacrilege not to mention at least one of its many cities and municipalities on this list of best European cities to visit for chocolate lovers. The challenge is choosing which ones to include.
The capital Zurich, known more for banks than chocolate, is a worthy mention thanks to Teuscher; a chocolate institution famous for their champagne truffles. Lindt and their individually-wrapped truffle balls also originated from the Swiss capital; but for the true chocolate connoisseurs, it’s the tiny municipality of Broc, in the canton of Fribourg that’s a must visit. Take a tour of the Maison Cailler where you’ll learn everything about chocolate making, starting with cacao roasting. Visitors will also get a chance to create their own chocolate recipe and if that isn’t enough, you can ride the “Chocolate Train.” A journey along the Swiss Alps that takes visitors aboard a century-old Pullman train from nearby Montreux. It passes through the town of Gruyere, famous for its cheese before terminating at the town of Broc.
Tain L’Hermitage, France
Everyone who’s been in the chocolate business knows about the tiny town of Tain L’Hermitage in France and if you’re a traveler as serious about your chocolate as you are with booking the best hotel deals then you’ve also likely heard of it. Tain L’Hermitage is on this list of cities to visit for the best European chocolate tours for one reason: Valrhona. Their school is where some of the best pastry chefs and chocolatiers get their training and their museum, which is aptly referred to as “La Cité du Chocolat.” This will take you to another level of indulgence guaranteed to convince you that chocolate really is just as good, if not better, than sex.
Located in Tuscany’s “Chocolate Valley,” Pontedera’s claim to chocolate fame is courtesy of the increasingly respected Amedei; where you can visit the pastry shop run by the siblings Alessio and Cecilia Tessieri. Over the past several years, their chocolate creations have been sweeping awards left and right. Critics have designated their Chuao bar as the “best chocolate in the world,” replacing the designation often reserved for the revered luxury brands including Valrhona. According to a Food and Wine article, Alessio’s dedication to creating the finest chocolate in the world starts with procuring the best cacao beans and succeeded they have.