Oh Paree. Just when I thought you couldn’t get any more beautiful, the cold weather arrived and you transformed yourself into a winter wonderland. Christmas markets have popped up everywhere, the Champs Elysées is lit up from top to bottom, Galleries Lafayette’s tree is more impressive than ever and the Eiffel Tower has its own skating rink. Could Paris be any better than it is right now? Well, there is one thing that could make it a tiny bit better. As much as I love Paris in the winter, I don’t particularly enjoy the cold. It’s the time of year when everyone gets sick, scarves become bigger and thicker and gloves are mandatory. So what did I do, you might ask, to make Paris just that tiny bit more perfect in the cold?
I embarked on a hot chocolate challenge.
For the last two months, I have tasted and tested chocolate all over the city with the hope of finding the best hot chocolate in Paris. Avoiding the cold was my main reason for doing this, as nothing feels better than a warm mug of cocoa between your hands when it’s freezing outside. But the other reason was a genuine curiosity to discover what makes a good hot chocolate and how hot chocolate in France compared to other countries. French chocolat chaud is unique in the way that it’s thick but not too thick, creamy, rich and FULL of flavor. It’s délicieux and tastes like pure chocolate has been melted into your cup. It’s also not too rich, so you don’t end up feeling sick after drinking a whole cup. It is, however, very filling, so don’t be surprised if you’re not hungry again for hours afterwards! In France, unlike in other countries, this thick hot chocolate is served widely in restaurants, cafes and bistros. It’s rare to be given instant hot chocolate as the French take much pride in serving the most mouth-watering hot beverages (and food of course!) If you do get served instant hot chocolate, you are most probably in a very touristy area where unfortunately the quality of restaurants is often poor, and overpriced!
To help you find the best places, here are the results of my hot chocolate challenge:
Angelina’s hot chocolate has to be the most famous in Paris. Its African hot chocolate is so thick that you almost feel like you’re digging into a bowl of soup. It’s made from three types of African chocolate from Nigeria, Ghana and the Ivory Coast and is made especially for Angelina’s. The biggest Angelina’s can be found on Rue de Rivoli, a stone’s throw away from the Louvre. It is a beautiful place where the likes of Proust and Coco Chanel frequented. A place where elegance meets indulgence. While you’re there, be sure to try the Mont Blanc, Angelina’s trademark pastry since 1903!
Address: 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001. Other locations on website. Metro: Concorde or Tuileries €€€€
La Jacobine is a tiny cafe tucked away in the Passage des Arts. Their Aztec hot chocolate is absolutely to-die-for; it’s unbelievably smooth, not too rich and just sweet enough! You can order it plain, with whipped cream, or with a ball of vanilla ice cream. Mmm… yummy! I always order mine plain and simple because even though whipped cream sounds tempting and their pastries look delicious, the chocolate is sweet enough to last a lifetime.
Address: 59 Rue Saint-André des Arts, 75006 Metro: Odéon €€€€
This chocolate shop has got that extra special something. Chloé Doutre-Roussel is extremely passionate about chocolate, offering not only delicious hot chocolate but also chocolate tours and chocolate tasting lessons! Her hot chocolate is from Bolivia and is melted in hot milk before sugar is added. It is 85% pure elixir that is one of the most refined hot chocolates I’ve ever tasted. Since Chloé’s is such a unique place, appointments must be made before you can taste her one of a kind hot chocolate.
Address: 83 rue d’Alésia, 75014 Metro: Alésia €€€€
Located in the same gorgeous passageway as La Jacobine, Un Dimanche à Paris (A Sunday in Paris) is well-known for its luxury hot chocolate. Chocoholics will love its concept store dedicated entirely to chocolate! You can pop in anytime between 3pm and 6pm to grab a hot chocolate and warm up in their cosy and delightful tearoom. Their luxury hot chocolate includes a dash of cream and is flavored with vanilla and cinnamon. It’s a little on the pricey side but it’s definitely worth it.
Address: 4 Cours du Commerce Saint-André, 75006 Metro: Odeon €€€€
Café de La Paix at The Grand Hotel
Just a few meters away from the beautiful Opera Garnier, the Grand Hotel serves a delicious hot chocolate in its adjoining restaurant and bar, Café de la Paix. You can ask for the chocolate to be fort en gout (very strong) or touché delicate (delicate touch) depending on your preference. Hot chocolate is served all day and even late into the evening, so it’s perfect for that late night craving. It’s another pricey venue but the place itself is stunning and the hot chocolate is wonderful.
Address: 12 Boulevard des Capucines, 75002 Metro: Opera €€€€ So what makes a hot chocolate good? It’s not easy to say. I think a lot depends on personal preference and if you like your chocolate sweet or bitter. But one thing is certain from the results of my challenge, Paris makes some of the best hot chocolate in the world!