The Annual Must: Salon du Chocolat in Paris

When October rolls around, you may be thinking Halloween and candy corn, pumpkins, falling leaves or a colorful Indian summer.  Me ?  I’m thinking chocolate. Nothing out of the ordinary, but this time, chocolate in Paris. It was my annual pilgrimage to the Salon du Chocolat, a chocolate fair like no other, in its 17th year. Time for a round-up of my favorite tastes at the show… If you were there, be sure to share yours too !

Salon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, France

I recently revealed a slight penchant (ok, obsession) for salted butter caramel on the radio with Peter Greenberg (listen to the podcast here) and there was plenty of that to go around at the Salon. Where to begin ? With my ultimate favorite, the Atlantique from Franck Kestener, but of course. You’ve seen this bar before, here and here, dark chocolate with layers of crisp, buttery shortbread and thick caramel with sea salt. You’ll see him below holding two bars in his hands; only they didn’t quite last two days in my own. At least I have confirmed that it remains my favorite bar. Now to get back to Paris to buy more than just two…

More of this irresistible salty sweet combination showed up in Sébastien Bouillet’s Maca’Lyons, Arnaud Larher‘s Chocomac’ and Benoit Chocolats’ Caramandes (all with fun names and all with orange packaging !).  Le Maca’Lyon is a salted butter caramel macaron dipped in dark chocolate (a macaron flavor that Christophe Roussel also does brilliantly), while the Chocomac’ is a small chocolate in the shape of a macaron.  They are filled with different flavored caramel, including one with fleur de sel and another with raspberry and balsamic vinegar.  Caramandes, Benoit’s specialty, are triangles of sliced almonds, salted butter caramel and dark chocolate.  They reminded me of my matzoh buttercrunch – equally addictive.

Salon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, France

Patrice Chapon often wins my vote for best packaging, his bars, boxes and aprons always beautifully designed (below, top right).  As are François Pralus‘ products, his signature rainbow stripes almost as recognizable as those of Paul Smith, and whose pyramids (below, bottom right) remain a must for chocolate connoisseurs.  And let’s not forget his decadent bright pink Praluline, which always draws crowds at their booth.  New to me this year was Sabadì, Cioccolato di Modica from Sicily, whose cute cartoon drawings on the packaging caught my eye, as did Jacques Bockel‘s whimsical chocolate pencils.

Bockel made my “Top 10 Stands Not to Miss” in 2008 for his almond praliné with fleur de sel and again in 2010 for his fig cinnamon nougat.  I just recently tasted a bar of his that simply blew me away, the Pralin.  I quickly devoured it, amazed, with big eyes, and haven’t stopped thinking about it since.  A super rich milk chocolate bar filled with gianduja (chocolate and hazelnut paste), fleur de sel from Camargue and slivered almonds that were roasted in olive oil.  Wow.

Salon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, France

What else was at this year’s Salon du Chocolat ? Macarons, cupcakes and marshmallows galore.  Chocolate with herbs, spices, flowers, alcohol or even pop rocks.  And lots of smiling artisans, excited to talk about their products, their background or even what’s to come in the future…  That’s Aline Géhant below, from Avignon, who was awarded “Young Talent” of the Salon this year.  Not only did she bring to Paris her delicate ganaches made with passion fruit, mango or honey, but also, as she put it, the sun and colors of her native Provence.

Salon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, France

Last but certainly not least, I was pleasantly surprised to see many more Swiss brands at the show this year.  Favarger from Geneva with their signature Avelines and Nougalines; Beschle from Basel, with their full line of bars, including my personal favorite with pistachios and fleur de sel; La Cuillère Suisse, whose chocolate spoons are not only fantastic for making hot chocolate, but serve as lollipops too; Kambly, in the cookie business for over 100 years now; and Philippe Pascoët from Geneva, whose chocolates I first discovered at the Salon du Chocolat in 2009, using ingredients ranging from absinthe to verbena.

Salon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, France

And a bonus: back stage with the models getting ready for a truly unique fashion show…  Chocolate dresses not just for display on mannequins, but for the runway !

Every year, talented designers are matched with chocolatiers (see this year’s list), who collaborate on a dress (and often accessories too) that is indeed all real chocolate.  The creations are simply outrageous and the fashion show just wild !  Watch the 2011 Chocolate Fashion Show here !

Salon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2011, Paris, France

Miss the roundups from the Salon du Chocolat of past years ?  Here they are: 2008, 2009, 2010.


16 Responses to “The Annual Must: Salon du Chocolat in Paris”

  1. Victoria (District Chocoholic) says:

    Amazing. If these chocolates are as tasty as they are beautiful…

    (And I’m very jealous that you got to go.)

  2. mom says:

    Thank you for sharing with all of your readers the Chocolate Show in Paris! What an exciting event to keep on coming back too. Your photography is just excellent and it pops right out of the computer. I can smell the chocolate!! You have chosen wonderful chocolatiers to talk about. I also love the packaging!! Maybe next time I will go with you but I do remember my first chocolate show in Paris…it was amazing. Just think I joined you on your first!!!!

  3. Silvia says:

    Oh you were there..! How can you avoid getting a chocolate overflow? I’m sometimes even overburdened when I visit a well stocked chocolate shop!

    And the Beschle pistachios and fleur de sel bar is still on my list; next time I see it I will buy it, no matter how large my stock at home is! (I know where I can get it, I’m just not yet desperate enough to make the extra trip.)

  4. Emma says:

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. That sigh signifies content at another year of salony chocolate delights, sadness at the possibility that I may never get to attend on my own, peace and tranquility as I write surrounded by indoor palm trees, and gladness that you continue to share all the memories you’ve created with us. Oh yes, and continual hope that I will one day get to try the Atlantique;)

  5. Kerrin says:

    Victoria, if you can believe this – some of those chocolates were even more delicious than they were beautiful !! 🙂

    mom, YES, you are so right – we were at the Salon du Chocolat when it was in the Carrousel du Louvre in 2001, right ? We were supposed to go in 1999, but Dad got sick. Ah, memories… So, you want to come to another Salon ?? =)

    Silvia, of course I was there ! Would never miss that event. But I do agree, it can be somewhat overwhelming. And you do sort of want to bring back an unreasonable amount of chocolate. Good thing dark chocolate bars stay fresh for a long time ! As for the Beschle bar with pistachios and fleur de sel – that was actually my snack tonight ! (Disclosure: I preferred it when it was 1 thick bar rather than 2 thinner ones, but I still love it.)

    Emma, what is that all about you never getting to attend the Salon du Chocolat on your own ?! You are so young – you have years and years ahead of you for sweet exploration and chocolate discoveries. Never say never. Now, indoor palm trees did you say ??

  6. a lady's life says:

    oh! what a devine dress!!!!
    I’d love to see a show like this.
    All we have is Charlies’ chocolate factory.
    Thats good as well.

  7. Stéphanie says:

    Naïs just recognised her “crayons”!!

  8. mayssam @ Will Travel for Food says:

    Ok where do I sign up?? K. you and I, a rendez-vous in Pareee next year for all that chocolate fun, ok? Incredible post and drool-inducing pictures, wow!

  9. jen laceda says:

    Oh yes, the annual trek to Paris’ Salon du Chocolat! As usual, very delicious photos you have here. Makes my sweet tooth ache for all the varieties you have there. We are quite limited here in North America, although, there is always online shopping? LOL!

  10. Anne says:

    just want you to know that Beschle had a booth at the Swiss Indoors this week and they have an advent calendar filled with truffles…lucky to live in Basel!

  11. Kerrin says:

    a lady’s life, ooooh I love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ! 🙂

    Stéphanie, Naïs got the crayons from Bockel ? How fun ! I am seriously still thinking about that Pralin bar you got me, just outrageous ! Merci ma belle !

    mayssam, merci beaucoup ! OUI, loving that idea – sweet rdv in Pareeeeee 2012, sounds awfully good to me !

    jen, the annual trek indeed, you know I wouldn’t miss this, right ?! 😉 I bet you’ve got some very fine chocolate makers over there… I’ll have to discover them all myself too ! And yes, online shopping is a wonderful – and dangerous – thing, haha !

    Anne, thank you so much for the sweet tip. Guess what… I was there ! We go to see Federer play every year, and I most certainly always pay a visit to the Beschle booth too. I didn’t see their Advent calendar, what a fun idea. But I got my favorite bar with pistachios and fleur de sel. And their carac tart, which was absolutely divine !! So yes, I totally agree – you are very lucky to live in Basel ! =)

  12. valentina says:

    Oh, this post had me scrolling back and forths.Excited with all the new things. You kno how much I learn from you about chocolate. I do like Atlantique immensely. Thank you to introducing me to this wonderful chocolate.Well, now I need a pen and paper.Note taking time.

  13. Emma says:

    Indeed, indoor palm trees! Psst: I was in Hawaii. Life isn’t so bad; rather, it’s terrific;) And if I don’t make it to the Salon, that’s okay. I can settle for beaches, sun, sand, and trying out a new (to me) chocolate maker.

  14. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    How did I miss this post?

    What a fantastic review. It feels like I was there myself. What an exciting trip to make each year – IMHO, must better than Halloween, pumpkins, and falling or rising temperatures!

    I sit here reading this wondering if I’ll ever see such a round up in person myself. I certainly hope so. But in the meantime, I have MyKugelhopf. 🙂

  15. Kerrin says:

    valentina, we do have so much in common – not just the chocolate and sweets, but the note taking too ! 😉

    Emma, Hawaii ? You globetrotter you ! =) Beaches, sun and sand sound awfully good to me. And if there’s chocolate there too, all the better. So who was the new chocolate maker you discovered ? Can’t say I’ve ever had Hawaiian chocolate before…

    Julia, you bet, the Salon du Chocolat definitely beats Halloween – even though I do miss good candy corn and trick-or-treating ! (Next year if I go from stand to stand at the salon, saying “trick or treat” – it’s your fault, haha !) You most certainly will see a round up like this in person. Correct me if I’m wrong, you are heading to Paris in 2012, no ??? Now that’s something to smile about. =)

  16. connie says:

    Bonjour Kerrin
    love, love, love your blog. Yes, I’m a lucky duck to be in Paris for Salon du chocolat in Oct. 2012. i’m totally into pastries but not a huge fan of chocolates…but would still like to go.
    Since the expo is 4 days, is there a particular day that is better to attend than other days?
    How should I pace myself for the samples? I don’t want to overdose on chocolate in the first hour! should I bring an ice pack with me if I want to buy chocolates or will the vendors provide that?

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