Paris Chocolate Museum
Le musée gourmand du Chocolat
ABOVE: Cheryl Imboden poses with Choco-Story's
resident chocolatier after a chocolate-molding demonstration.
most visitors to Paris, the word "museum" is a synonym for "Louvre", "Centre
Pompidou," or "Musée d'Orsay." But there are many small museums in Paris that
also deserve a tourist's attention, such as le musée des Égouts de Paris
(Paris Sewers Museum) and--more
appetizingly--Choco-Story, also known as le musée
gourmand du Chocolat or the Gourmet Chocolate Museum.
Paris is the third in a series of private chocolate museums operated by the Van
Belle family of Erembodegem, Belgium, who launched a Bruges museum in 2004 and a
Prague branch in 2008.
The Paris version of Choco-Story opened in 2010 and is
sponsored by Belcolade, the
second-largest Belgian manufacturer of chocolates for the professional market.
(Belcolade's products are widely used by French chocolatiers, bakers, and pastry
Choco-Story occupies three floors of a building on the
Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle, one of the Grands Boulevards in central
Paris. It's made up of three sections:
The first section traces the history of cocoa (going back to
the Mayan and Aztec eras). It also introduces the cocoa tree and the
fundamental principles of chocolate-making.
The second section covers the development of chocolate in
Europe, from the importation of the first cacao beans into Spain in
1527 to the industrialization of chocolate-making in the 19th and 20th
Centuries. Exhibits range from antique chocolate cups to modern machinery.
- The third part of the museum features temporary
exhibitions and a Demonstration Center where visitors can watch chocolates
being made, with fresh samples to eat and enjoy.
museum has a collection of more than 1,000 objects, many of them chosen
personally by Eddy Van Belle, the patriarch of the Van Belle chocolate-making
clan. Choco-Story also sponsors the international Cocoa Development Fund,
which supports cocoa farmers and chocolate cooperatives in developing countries.
is open daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. (last entrance at 5 p.m.) The price of
admission isn't cheap, but it does include a chocolate sample, and you can
easily spend a couple of hours in the museum--or longer, if you can't resist
buying a cup of hot chocolate in the gift shop and bookstore.
For detailed information, including ticket prices and how to
reach Choco-Story, visit the museum's Web site at
To see photos of the museum (including the chocolate-molding
demonstration with samples), continue to
page 2 of this article.