La Maison du Chocolat

Don’t hate me when I tell you this: Last week I was invited to La Maison du Chocolat.

But not just to one of their swanky boutiques in Paris, the marble-lined, cocoa-hued temples where people flock to worship at the alter of founder Robert Linxe. (And yes, you can count me as one of the converted.) Instead I was invited to tour their chocolate production laboratoire just outside the city.

La Maison du Chocolat

Descending the RER train in the nondescript suburb of Nanterre, we finally came upon a beige building that was scrupulously clean; we knew we’d arrived at le mothership.

Robert Linxe, who was born in the Basque region and founded La Maison du Chocolat, was one the major proponents of using ganache in his chocolates; that slightly-airy amalgamation of chocolate and cream. Then he went on to develop a flavor palette of ganache-based chocolates…and the rest is one of the most successful stories in chocolate history.


And what better way to do my first chocolate-tasting post than with a box of picture-perfect La Maison du Chocolat resting smack-dab in front of me.

Unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures in the production facility but I will say that everything I saw was extraordinary, from the wild fennel branches infusing in cream for Garrigue, to the sublime, melt-in-your-hand before-melting-in-your-mouth caramelized-butter mousse for Rigoletto. And watching the focused, yet cheerful chocolatiers go about their work, was another treat for me. So was meeting their head decorator and watching him fashion all sorts of things from chocolate, while working towards his exam. It’s the highest honor that France bestows on craftspeople, which allows the chef to wear a red, white, and blue-striped collar on their chefs jacket: I’m certain by the looks of things, he’s not going to have much difficulty. His chocolate sculptures were witty and playful, but above all, absolutely gorgeous.

Whipped caramelized-butter mousse aside (or should I say ‘down’ as in ‘down the hatch’…), another top flavor in my book is Zagora; a blend of fresh, zingy mint and bittersweet chocolate. But as the Cerise Griottes came moving through the chocolate enrober, the chef plucked one off the belt and stuck it in my mouth. Inside was a tender, tiny candied sour cherry (watch out for the pit, my litigious compatriots…), which melted into a flavorful mouthful of dark chocolate and cherry madness. Is it about the fruit. Or is it about the chocolate? Why fight it? It was a perfect alliance of both.

Other flavors at La Maison due Chocolat include Andalousie, whose ganache had the unusual taste of sugary orange peel, not quite fully-candied so the little citrusy pieces of zest had a nice crystally-crunch. And Maiko, while not my favorite, was invented for the Japanese market with a little bite of fresh ginger. (I usually love fresh ginger and chocolate so was surprised I didn’t find this as exceptional as the others.)

I tend to forget about La Maison du Chocolat.
After all, they have shops all over Paris, as well as in Tokyo and London. I go by them all the time, and although I peer in the window to see what’s new (note: If you come during Christmastime, the chestnut mousse-filled mounds are not to be missed) I don’t stop in as often as I should.

From now on, that’s going to change.
As soon as I polish off the box I have.

Which, as you can see from the half-finished box above, will definitely be soon.

La Maison du Chocolat
225, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré (8th)

(Check web site for other addresses in Paris and elsewhere.)


Also read: La Maison du Chocolat

20 comments

  • You know the scene of Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. Well that’s me after reading this post.

  • I tell people that I am not a big chocolate fan. But there is always a stash of their Cerise Griottes on my dressing table. It’s for a quick breakfast pop before leaving the apartment, or for when I come home after a long day.

  • Chocolate covered cherries Yum! My favorite!A little Champagne is nice too. I was lost after the cherries I read that part about 4 times. Yes it is about the fruit and the enrobing in chocolate how erotic…..

    Sorry…but.. Who needs porn? when they can just read about the chocolate and the cherries.

    WOW!
    Have they got a store in Hong Kong? If so I am heading there as soon as I get off the train on my next trip into that civilized city.

  • The chestnut-mousse chocolates you mentioned are among my favorite, and are available from Oct. through March. I think they’re called “marroncini” or something like that. You can choose milk chocolate or dark chocolate (or go for the box which combines both). Darn, we’re already into April!

  • I think I need to make an ‘emergency’ visit now to the one in NYC!!! Thanks for giving me cravings David….

  • Ooh! Je suis très jalouse. La Maison du Chocolat is my absolutely favorite place to get chocolate, but all I ever get is their plain and/or champagne truffles. They’re so rich and perfect, it’s probably the only chocolate in the world that I can limit myself intake to just one piece at a time. Okay, I’m totally lying.

  • Okay, that’s it….you are now officially banned from my computer screen until I lose 20lbs!

    Ice Cream books, friendship bars, chocolate chocolate chocolate…GAH!

  • We are blessed with TWO Maisons du Chocolat in Manhattan, isn’t that incredible? I don’t know where this country would be without New York, I tell ya.

  • You suck.

    Just had to say that.

    (wiping drool from my chin)

  • Good lord – wild fennel? griottes? fresh mint? A tour of the Linxe laboratoire? This may be obvious, but I think you have the best job ever.

  • I am utterly consumed with envy. Consumed.

  • I’m not as envious as your other readers, I say bully for you. I bet you’ve always dreamed of being invited to visit Willy Wonka and I’m sure that you’d be the one he’d single out to inherit the chocolate factory. By the way, I’m rethinking my “can’t afford to make better coffee at home” statement from the other day. I’ve decided to add a qualifier, I can’t afford it right now. This stuff just takes over brain, ya know?

  • I’m happy just reading about it!…ok…happy AND drooling.
    No Maison du Chocolat in Toronto :(

  • When I lived in Tokyo, one of my students was a chocolatier (?) at La Maison du Chocolat and often brought the most exquisite chocolates for everyone to try. One year her Valentine’s Day gift to me was a TWO kilo box of chocolate truffles…. I sure do miss her!

  • Lucky! When I had their chocolate raspberry cake, I wanted to cry because it was so good. I knew that I could never replicate the synergy of layers.

  • Wonderful, decadent descriptions, David! I’m missing out on your Chocolate Walk by four days and I’m devastated. Maybe next time.
    Thanks for the link to “Keeping it Real.” I sent my note to the FDA.

  • David

    J’adore votre blog.
    It’s a great pleasure and a great honor to see how much you love Paris and the nice way you describe it.

    My best regards.

    Jane (Paris Batignolles)

  • Jealous? Naaaah! Last week I got a private tour of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and not only did I get to swim in the chocolate river, but I also got to play with the oompa loompas! Top that Monsieur Lebovitz! Btw, I was in a SF production of the opera Rigoletto. We had to go topless on the stage. Quite embarrasing really. I wonder if the chocolate maker saw our performance per chance, hence the name?

  • Lucky boy. lucky lucky boy.

    But the most disturbing part of the post was the USDA proposal. I have voiced my concern. They had better not mess with our chocolate!!!

  • When I went home for Christmas, I could not ge enough of the Rigoletto and Andalousie…as well as their chocolate eclairs…Lucky you!