Paris is full of wonderful chocolatiers. From the big names like the Maison du Chocolat and Jaques Genin, to neighborhood confiseries and chocolate shops, you don’t have to look far to get your chocolate fix in this town. Paris has everything chocolate — from fine, delicate pralines, to nutty rochers to giant, kitchy bunnies for Easter and long strands of chocolate-covered “guimauve” (or marshmallow).
However, up until about a month ago, Paris lacked one thing : an actual chocolate manufacture, where everything from sourcing and roasting beans to the final enrobing of chocolate happens in the same place. And not only do we have our own chocolate manufacture now, but it just so happens to be under the auspices of Alain Ducasse himself.
Visiting the chocolate manufacture of Alain Ducasse feels a little bit like being Charlie when he finally enters Willy Wonka’s factory (minus the oompa-loompas, of course). Walking in from the noisy, bustly (and slighly sketchy) streets of the Bastille area, the chocolate manufacture is located in a small courtyard, sheltered from the noise and confusing of the neighborhood. The building is also, in large part, made of glass, which permits one to see everything from the sacks of raw beans to the roasting machines to the chocolates in the process of being made.
What also makes the chocolate manufacture of Alain Ducasse a unique place is that not only is the chocolate itself produced on site — but all chocolates are single-origin, coming from places as diverse as Java, Madagascar, Peru, Equador, the Cote d’Ivoire… the list goes on and on. What’s more, even the fillings (what the French call “praliné” is made in-house (something that few manufactures do, apparently) and comes in incredible flavors like “pate d’amande pistache” (almond-pistachio), “pralinee croustillant, mousse caramel” (crunchy praline-caramel mousee) and “noix de coco fruit de la passion” (coconut-passionfruit).
Although these chocolates are expensive (4 bars came out to about 50 dollars), the price is honestly not incredibly outrageous for the product. This is seriously some of the best chocolate I have ever had — for one of the first times in my life, I actually tasted flavors of coffee, red-fruits etc. that all the chocolate connaisseurs tell you that you “should” taste. It’s amazing how incredibly complex these chocolates are. And even if they were double the price, I’d still go out of my way to buy them.