12 Divine Chocolate Shops

12 Divine Chocolate Shops

Is chocolate good for you? Researchers, conducting highly scientific studies, have found chocolate beneficial in preventing a plethora of ailments including cancer, stroke and heart disease. But Spot Cool Stuff has a more simple theory:

If it makes you smile, it’s health food.

In honor of National Smile Month—and to the dismay of dentists everywhere—here’s our look at 12 wonderful chocolate shops. We hesitate calling them the “best” chocolate shops given how there are easily 60 or more stores that we could have included on this list. All the shops we did include are superlative in some way.

Note that this overview is a companion piece to our equally dentist-horrifying review of the world’s best candy shops.

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L’Etoile d’Or

Paris

If you surveyed all the world’s experts on which chocolate shop they thought was the world’s best, L’Etoile d’Or would probably win. (Maison du Chocolat, based in Paris and with chocolate boutiques also in New York, Hong Kong, Cannes, London and Tokyo, would likely be the runner-up).

L’Etoile d’Or is charmingly old fashion—so old fashion that the store doesn’t even seem to have a website. It isn’t even particularly easy to find—head a block south of the Blanche metro station to 30 rue Fontaine. Once you enter the store, though, you’ve found a bon bon of chocolate heaven. The proprietors of L’Etoile d’Or scour France for the very best chocolates. Their store is the only outside of Lyon where you’ll find coveted Bernachon chocolate. We aslo love their Moka bar, made from chocolate ground smooth with espresso beans.

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Wittamer, Neuhaus, Pierre Marcolini

Grand Sablon Square, Brussels

Belgium has been called “The Country of Chocolate.” Sadly, this is not literally true. Happily, Belgium does have more high quality chocolate stores per square kilometer than any country on earth. At the epicenter of this chocolate sensation is Grand Sablon Square. The “square” (it is, in fact, more triangle in shape) is full of wonderful chocolate shops. Among them, we’re taken by the luscious Wittamer chocolatier cafe. Others swear by Neuhaus, where the praline was invented, and Pierre Marcolini, which is like the chocolate shop equivalent of going to a postmodern minimalist nightclub.

LEARN MORE: Whittamer / Neuhaus / Pierre Marcolini | BELGIUM GUIDEBOOKS

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Christopher Norman Chocolates

New York City

norman chocolate nyc 12 Divine Chocolate Shops follow me on pinterest button 12 Divine Chocolate Shops Chocolate purists stay away! The treats at Chiristopher Norman are unusual in the flavors and makeup. We’re talking chocolate walnut shells stuffed with banana-nut-cream truffles here, people. The mango chocolates ooze a powerful mango aroma. The cappuccino chocolate cups with Grand Marier can get you tipsy if you eat too many. Fortunately you can take the subway to Christopher Norman’s downtown Manhattan location.

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Boqueria Market

Barcelona

Okay, the Mercado de la Boquería isn’t a chocolate shop as much as it is an entire market with all sorts of foodstuffs. But within the market’s hallways and back corners await chocolatiers with delicious offerings.

For a perfect chocolaty Barcelona day:

• Start in the morning by exploring around the Boqueria market for sweet treats. (The Hotel Barcelona Universal is a good nearby hotel).

• Then head to the Museo de La Xocolata (The Museum of Chocolate) for a tour and tastings. If you have a kiddo in tow you can drop them off in one of the museum’s chocolate art classes.

• Eat lunch (assuming you are hungry for any non-chocolate food) and take a siesta before indulging in a chocolate massage at the Gran Hotel Balneario Blancafort. The hotel also offers a day-long chocolate massage course.

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Belmont Estates & Grenada Chocolate Company

Grenada

For a glorious chocolate experience in the Caribbean there’s no place better than the Belmont Estate and the Grenada Chocolate Company. At the former, one can tour the plantation grounds and watch cocoa being grown and harvested (while monkeys watch on). At the later, see that same cocoa being processed into chocolate bars with solar energy-powered equipment. Along the way everyone is unbelievably friendly and inviting. And, of course, there’s a wonderful shop at which to purchase your chocolate goods.

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Le Chocolat de H

Tokyo

chocolate h japan s 12 Divine Chocolate Shops follow me on pinterest button 12 Divine Chocolate Shops If we remember our grade school French correctly, Le Chocolat de H translates into English as The Chocolate of H. It’s a surreal name for surreal store. From the street it looks like a modern art museum. On the inside it’s like a cross between a jewelry boutique and ski chalet. Chocolate creations are displayed like diamonds under long glass counters surrounded by wood shelving. Our favorite part is the attached restaurant where the selection of chocolate drinks, chocolate cakes, chocolate pastries and chocolate sandwiches is such that you can put together an entire lunch without subjecting your mouth to anything non-chocolaty. Consider calling in advance of a visit (3 5772 0075) as open hours vary erratically.

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Bernard Dufoux

La Clayette, France

travel chocolate dufoux s 12 Divine Chocolate Shops follow me on pinterest button 12 Divine Chocolate Shops Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, the little French village where Chocolat was filmed, is oddly devoid of chocolate shops. But drive two hours south to the lovely village of La Clayette and you’ll find a real shop a little like the one in the movie. There, master chocolatier Bernard Dufoux runs a tiny out-of-the-way eponymous store where visitors can’t help but smile. Watch the master himself prepare specialties. And if you buy something there’s a good chance that Dufoux’s stepdaughter will be the one to ring you up. La Clayette, being a bit remote, is ideally visited as part of a France Rail ‘n’ Drive package.

Thanks to our Twitter follower @matthiasrascher for suggesting Bernard Dufoux to us.

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French Broad Chocolates

Asheville, NC U.S.A.

french broad s 12 Divine Chocolate Shops follow me on pinterest button 12 Divine Chocolate Shops French Broad isn’t a chocolate shop. It’s a chocolate lounge, a self-described “a sacred space for chocophiles.” Yes you can walk in, buy some amazing chocolates, and walk right out. But the French Broad is the sort of place that’s best enjoyed stretching out on comfy couch, staying for a while, and (of course) eating chocolate. Or drinking chocolate. Our favorite selection on the French Broad menu is Xocolatl, a drink inspired by the ancient Aztecsand made with ground chocolate, corn grits, organic chile and spices, all blended together is frothy almond milk!

LEARN MORE | NC GUIDEBOOKS

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La Cure Gourmande

Paris (and Belgium, Spain and throughout France)

Spot Cool Stuff is generally not a fan for large chain stores, but La Cure Gourmande is a great one as far as chocolate goes. You’ll find La Cure Gourmande shops throughout France (including a location at the Paris Orly airport). The shops are consistently cheerful, yellow-y and friendly places. Baked good and candies are also for sale, but it is their chocolates that are superlative. We reckon no store on the planet sells better chocolate covers almonds. In Paris, La Cure Gourmande has six locations of which we’re partial to the one at 49 l’Avenue de l’Opera.

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Grand Candy Factory

Yerevan, Armenia

Where was the biggest chocolate bar ever made? Brussels? Geneva? Hershey, Pennsylvania? The surprising answer is: Yerevan. There, in the Armenian capital, the Grand Candy Factory has 20 stores, each brightly colored, each watched over by the store’s trademark pink elephant and each with a selection of delicious (if somewhat uncreative) chocolate treats. In honor of the store’s 10th anniversary, the Grand Candy Factory decided to build one mega chocolate bar; it weighed in at 4,410 kg (9,702 lbs), enough to put it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest chocolate bar.

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updated: 4 Nov 2013
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More from Spot Cool Stuff

Where to Take a Bath in Chocolate
Cool Website Review: Design Your Own Chocolate Bars at Chocomize
Explore the Chocolate Hills ← it isn’t what you think
The World’s Best Book Stores

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Responses

  1. sablon kaos says:

    Info yang bermanfaat.. terima kasih. semangat berkarya.. kawan.. maju terus .. jaya…

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Mia says:


    Twitter:
    It was only obvious that such a post attracted many readers :)
    Delicious!

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. marco says:

    i am very disappointed… an article about the best chocolate all over the world without mentioning the real masters… i tried the belgians the french… but there are just ‘the masters’ …and this are the swiss… sprüngli &co… just try and you will see……

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. E. Jacobe says:

    On what authority and with what research was this article written? I am quite confused as to how a comparison can be made between a long established chocolatier like Nehaus that has been in business since 1857 and a fledgling company that’s been in business less than three years? Sure these may be great places but comparing them in this way not only leaves out a myriad of places that potentially exceed some of the places on your list but also casts a shadow of distrust on the whole article.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    E. Jacobe,

    When making our selections we didn’t directly take into account the number of years a company has been operating. (We did take into account the ambiance of the store, and that’s something the age of a store may well have an impact on). As we mentioned in the intro, there are many more great chocolate stores that could have made this list. So many that we are considering published a Part II. If you have suggestions we’d love to hear them.

    ~ SCS

    [Reply to this comment]

  5. Galsterer says:

    Felchlin in Schwyz, Switzerland is a great place to try the worlds best chocolate.

    [Reply to this comment]

  6. Carlos D says:

    So glad you included La Cure Gourmande – it’s brilliant!

    [Reply to this comment]

  7. Jennifer says:


    Twitter:
    This post made me very, very happy. Next up, Nutella for breakfast!

    [Reply to this comment]

  8. Wanderluster says:


    Twitter:
    OMG. I am SO dying for chocolate right now and it’s not even 8am. But I AM smiling :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

  9. Spot Cool Travel Stuff says:

    Wandering Eds:

    Thanks for the tip. We are planning a future post dedicated to chocolate museums.

    To other readers:

    Wandering Eds has a great piece on their visit to Europe’s most westerly chocolate factory: http://woww.it/nh

    [Reply to this comment]

  10. wandering educators says:


    Twitter:
    oh YUM!!! what a gift on this monday – i am smiling!

    i’d also recommend the chocolate museum in koln, germany – and the skellig chocolate company in co. kerry, ireland!

    [Reply to this comment]

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