Chocolat…It’s French for Heaven

laduree store frontage
Laduree Shop

This was the most unexpected surprise of our Chocolate pilgrimage. We were just strolling down the Champs Elysée from the Place De la Concorde on our way to the  Arc de Triomphe.  We planned to have side trip to “Fouquet” on the avenue  on the recommendation of Charlotte (a  Belgian chocolate fanantic we met in Bruxelles ) to share a hot chocolate and people watch. ” Quatre chocolat chaud monsieur s’il vous plait”?.

The plan was abruptly interrupted when  a pale green facade with a small yet   stunning window  display of  patisserie, confection and chocolate perfection  beckoned us.  This window teased us into peering in the front door. We had planned to see Laduree at Rue Royale however here we were and we were hooked.  The tight doors swung open. We were in. Laduree as all the books suggested was irrestistable.

Laduree is pastry and chocolate heaven

Inside,  darkness flooded room . The only lights in this Salon were those fixed on the exquisite delights of Laduree  displayed on marble (Chocolate eclairs, chocolate mille feuille, gateaux, macarons and a selection of Truffles and chocolates).

the laduree choice is endless
Laduree offer of pastries
laduree macroon display
macrons in all flavours and beautifully displayed

Ladurees decor  was classic. The best of all the Chocolate destinations we’d seen so far.  As were the crisply pressed black uniforms of the Mademoiselles Ladurees.  Their efficient ,clinical and polite  service always  finishing   with “Ces tout”?  It was hard to answer  “Oui, that’s all” as you just wanted to buy all the pasrties and chocolates in this boutique.

creative temptations at Laduree
amazing creativity at Laduree

Laduree is best known apparently for its Macarons which it claims to have created. They offer a standard range of Macarons including chocolate, hazelnut, rose, pistachio, raspberry and lemon and add a new flavour for each season.

laduree window display
the window display at Laduree

The atmosphere and the amazing cakes made it easy to see why Sofia Coppola used Laduree in her movie Marie Antoinette to illustrate the decadence of the 18th century French royal court. The cakes are like works of art – almost impossible to make a choice and almost certainly too gorgeous to actually eat. But eat we did and they were amazing!

a Laduree cake
one of our choices at Laduree

At the back of the store there is a Macaron bar (see below) – an almost fantasy of underwater mermaid life the decor is worth seeing.

macron bar at Laduree
macarons  bar at Laduree

Laduree offers a huge range of chocolate and chocolate gifts – all packaged in beautiful colour coordinated pastels boxes and ribbons.

chocolate and chocolate gifts at Laduree
chocolate gifts at Laduree

If it seems like these delicacies may look great but not taste great we can testify that we tried several on offer including this most beautiful strawberry below and it was devine!

laduree pastry creation - strawberry
a strawberry from Laduree that looks as good as it tastes!

Laduree, merci beaucoup. You made our Parisian day.

Oh and there are several other Laduree locations in Paris – we will just have to check them out and let you know if they are as good!

More Belgian Chocolate in Brugge

chocolate shops of Brugge
Cute Chocolate shop in Brugge

It seemed the shops and choice of chocolate were endless in Brugge – Belgian Chocolate in any form or flavour that you could ever imagine.

Here are some photos of just a few of the chocolate shops we experienced.

chocolate shop Brugge
Galler Chocolatier in Brugge
chocolate shop brugge
chocolate window display in Brugge
chocolates in Brugge
sample of chocolates in Brugge
chocolate shops in Brugge
chocolate box crafted from Belgian chocolate
one of the oldest chocolate shops in Brugge
One of the oldest chocolate shops in Brugge
chocolate window display in Brugge
Chocolate Choices!
little lane way
one of our favourite chocolate shops was tucked away in this tiny laneway
more chocolates in Brugge
chocolate choices in Brugge
chocolate shop signage
chocolate shops take great care and pride in presentation

Chocolates galore in Brugges

Brugge Canal
Brugge the home of postcard views and 53 Chocolate Shops

Recent Dello Mano bride Tammy suggested that Brugges in Brussels was well worth a visit. So, in the name of chocolate  we ventured out on the hour long train trip  to Brugges which is the most quaint picturesque  medieval town with the added bonus of hosting some 53 chocolate shops! We were overwhelmedwith the long list of chocolate shops  so we made a selective choice based on the most innovative through to the oldest and of course had a keen interest in those that offered hand made chocolates. Noteworthy (and a little sad given our love of hand made food) is that  the Information people noted that only about 6 of the 53 stores actually hand made their chocolate. The Chocolate Line store was recommended as both hand made and the most innovative Belgian chocolate shop in Brugges.  A gorgeous little store with a double window chocolate display set on a cobble stone street in a petite tree lined square. The store itself is brim full of chocolate options and does offer some of the more unusual chocolate fillings including anything from herbs through to  vodka combinations. A most unusual choice of chocolate moulded in different shapes including dog poop in the front window -? ….perhaps shock value?

chocolate line store in Brugges
The Chocolate Line shop in Brugges

Excitingly this chocolate shop does offer authenticity with a large glass viewing window in the back and therefore the opportunity to watch Chocolatiers in action.

The Chocolate Line
Chocolates in the window of the Chocolate Line

One additional and very unexpected highlight at Brugges was that the Cathedral houses a beautiful Michaelangelo sculpture. This is in fact one of the few Michelangelo pieces outside of Italy. Truly beautiful and with a very light crowd a pleasure to enjoy set amidst the grandeur of the Cathedral.

Michelangelo at Brugges
Not chocolate but an unexpected masterpiece is the Michelangelo at Brugges

More Belgian Chocolate

It would be impossible to stroll the pavements of Brussels without being tempted by the irresistible magnetism of the very beautiful window displays.

chocolate window display
Chocolate Window display in Brussels

Following a little cobble road from the Grand Place the Mannekin Pis  can be found. This little iconic statue has  earned a reputation for being very small – many of the locals warning of this at the very mention of the statue. He is in fact very small and more or less sits on the corner of a tiny street. Even more pronounced than the statue is the many, many replicas of him in everything from plaster to yes, you guessed -chocolate. Numerous coloured replicas made for this interesting display in a near by chocolate shop.

little boys in Brussels
The Manneken Pis replicas abound in chocolate shops

Brussels has its fair share of Macaron stores ranging from incredibly bright colours to the more subdue. Pierre Marcolini perhaps offering the most beautiful and the most sublime texture. Of course all need to be tasted!

Brussels Macaron
Some brightly coloured Macrons in Brussels

As well as every chocolate flavour known to man, many of the chocolate boutiques offer signature ranges of nougat – many of them very good.

not chocolate but nougat
not only chocolate but nougat as well

So much chocolate, so little time!

Belgian Chocolate Secrets Hidden in Brussels

As we posted yesterday, chocolate shops in the Grand Place of Brussels abound – some may say more than anyone could possibly need. There is in fact a crush of small and big name chocolate shops. Exploring chocolate shops with the locals however, many recommend a walking trip to the Sablon.  Definitely worth the walk from central Brussels, this quaint rather up market strip of cafes takes the chocolate shop to a new level.

cafes of the sablon
The Sablon – lovely cafes and more chocolate shops

The strip of shops including cafes and more chocolate boutiques sits in the shadow of a glorious gothic  Cathedral.

The Sablon
The Cathedral at the Sablon

Of all the chocolate shops perhaps Pierre Marcolini was a stand out. The boutique itself is gorgeous and the chocolate flavours  more innovative and tasteful. A number of  ranges are offered.

chocolate at the Sablon
Many chocolates to choose from at the Sablon
The Sablon and Chocolate
Gorgeous Macaron display at the Sablon