Paris: Choco-Story Museum

Posted by Brette in Travel

328-DSCN1044I can find an excuse to eat chocolate just about everywhere I go, and Paris is no exception. Choco-Story, the museum of chocolate made it pretty easy for me. Located on the Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle, right in front of the Bonne Nouvelle Metro Station, this museum was easy to find. It doesn’t compare on the outside to the other grand museums you will likely visit while in Paris, but it’s bigger than it looks. The museum is three stories and at 9 Euro a person it is well worth a visit for anyone who enjoys chocolate.

This museum pays special attention to the littlest visitors. Each exhibit has a child’s level explanation in Lego (I adored these little Lego dioramas that illustrated the point of the main exhibit) with simple text for the youngest visitors.

The main gist of the museum is to guide you through the development and 4000 year history of

Aztec relics

Aztec relics

chocolate. Chocolate originated with the Mayans, who used it as an unsweetened hot drink only allowed to the nobility. You follow the history of chocolate as it is used by the Aztec, then comes to Europe and the colonies. The museum has an astounding amount of information and displays. You could easily spend an afternoon here if you wanted to read everything (and there are English translations of just about everything).

In addition to learning about how chocolate has been used in different cultures, you can see the actual plant and pods and learn how it grows, is processed, and cooked with. Cacao was not only used as food, but also as a monetary system (personally I would have no problem with being paid in chocolate!). Detailed exhibits explain

Cacao in its natural form

Cacao in its natural form

how chocolate has been prepared through the ages. Recipes are posted for visitors’ use as well.

The third floor of the museum has displays that pertain to current and mainly American use of chocolate (are they trying to say something?). The huge display of beautiful chocolate pots and cups fascinated me. Chocolate molds reminded me of the ones my father-in-law used to use. You’ll also see some chocolate advertisements.

The basement of the museum (which is the last part of the visit) contains some videos, but also has an interactive computer quiz you can take that assesses your tastes and recommends a type of chocolate and a country of origin for it that you are

Quiz for chocolate preferences

Quiz for chocolate preferences

most likely to enjoy. Everyone in my family loved this part of the museum.

Also in the basement is the chocolate making demonstration. We were very interested to go to this, but it was a huge disappointment unfortunately. The chef leading the demonstration spoke in rapid fire French. Someone in the audience asked if he could speak “En Anglais, s’il vois plait” also. He slowed down for a moment to say he was also speaking English and then proceeded to continue speaking in an fast and indecipherable way – presumably in French and a very heavy English accent. No one had a clue as to what he was saying. The demonstration began with samples of different types of chocolate. Then the chef turned on a machine that poured melted

Chocolate-making demo

Chocolate-making demo

chocolate into a mold. He put it in the refrigerator, pulled out one that had already chilled and dumped the chocolate out. This was the entire demonstration. In my book, that’s not making chocolate, it’s just molding chocolate. There were more samples at the end which kept us quiet. It’s hard to complain when your mouth is full.

After we had explored the museum, our path led us to the gift shop (always my favorite part of a visit to a museum). We bought different types of chocolate to bring home (white chocolate for the husband, dark orange chocolate for me and dark chocolate for my daughter). At the conclusion of the visit, you get a cup of hot chocolate in the flavor of your choice. There are about 8 different flavors to choose from. One was traditional Mexican with chile in it. White chocolate, hazelnut, dark chocolate, and orange chocolate

Hot chocolate

Hot chocolate

were all options. You are handed a cup of hot milk and a piece of chocolate on a stick. You swirl it in the chocolate until it melts. There’s just one small bench to sit on and enjoy this, but there are some public benches in front of the museum if you can’t find a spot.

This was a sweet ending to a fun afternoon for us. When we visited on an August weekday, the museum was not crowded at all. This is not on most people’s radar, so at this point, it’s still a hidden gem you can enjoy without 323-DSCN1039crowds.

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