Zermatt’s “Madame Chocolat”

A spontaneous summer weekend adventure (and a birthday) found my husband and me on the Glacier Express, perhaps Switzerland’s most famous – and spectacular – train ride across the country, the complete line going from St. Moritz to Zermatt.  We had been dreaming of taking this train since we arrived in Zürich in 2008.  (A birthday that year had us on the Bernina Express.  Yes, we like trains.)

I hadn’t been to Zermatt since a tennis tour in 1995, when one by one, we 15 year olds took the obligatory photo, arms outstretched in front of the Matterhorn.  I’m sure you would all recognize that triangular peak, forever immortalized on Toblerone bars found all over the world, from the highest-end food shops in Switzerland to Bed, Bath & Beyond in the USA.  We set off to Zermatt primarily to enjoy a day on the train itself (word of advice to photographers: bring filters for window reflections) and to see friends.  But as you all know, no adventure of mine is complete without checking out the local sweet scene.  So read on for where to get your chocolate fix in Zermatt,… sans Toblerone.

Boîte à Chocolat, Zermatt, SwitzerlandBoîte à Chocolat, Zermatt, SwitzerlandBoîte à Chocolat, Zermatt, SwitzerlandBoîte à Chocolat, Zermatt, Switzerland

The friend I was visiting in Zermatt was Marion Mennig-Schweizer, whose in-laws run Zum See, a popular mountain restaurant above the village.  (You’ll meet her and the whole family in the next post, stay tuned !)  Unfortunately having missed Zermatt’s 14th annual folklore parade (an 11:30am to 4pm lunch will do that), we found a perfect people-watching spot at Boîte à Chocolat on the main street, where we caught a few folklore groups dressed in traditional outfits, heading to the train station, still smiling and humming after the day’s festivities.  Not to mention a few straggling alphorns too.

Marion, a Basler herself, introduced me to the shop owner, Marie-Christine Taugwalder (seen above), whose mother is also from Basel but father from Zermatt.  (Another bond for the ladies, Zum See was Marie-Christine’s grandparents’ summer home).  I suppose I wasn’t surprised to see she carried Beschle chocolate from Basel, the entire line of twenty bars on the shelf.  Most were familiar, like my favorite Beschle bar – dark chocolate with pistachios and fleur de sel; while some were new to me, like dark chocolate with açaí, the Brazilian fruit, and milk chocolate with Tonka bean and orange.  The selection in the shop changes with the seasons, including both handmade chocolate and more playful confections; and at the moment, there is an excellent variety of brands, including Nobile, Idilio Origins, Villars, Aeschbach and Coppeneur.

Boîte à Chocolat, Zermatt, SwitzerlandBoîte à Chocolat, Zermatt, SwitzerlandBoîte à Chocolat, Zermatt, SwitzerlandBoîte à Chocolat, Zermatt, Switzerland

Following years as a fashion designer and children’s clothing store owner, Marie-Christine followed her passion as an amateur cook and opened her chocolate shop on Zermatt’s Bahnhofstrasse in 2008, giving herself a new title, “Madame Chocolat.”  In a small kitchen below the shop, she bakes her signature flourless chocolate cake, using 70% Valrhona chocolate and her great great grandmother’s recipe, handwritten in a leather journal; and she melts dark, milk and white Valrhona chocolate to make slabs with different nuts or other ingredients. She also spends time upstairs above the shop behind the stylish bar, where ordering a hot chocolate isn’t quite as simple as: with or without whipped cream. The menu (above) lists almost twenty varieties for the beverage, made with couverture, a chocolate stick or flavored pralines.

Or she will be standing among the different products lining her shelves, including hollow Matterhorn chocolates with a bit of a crunch from pieces of waffle (below), happily taking the time to help customers get just what they want, whether that be an ice cream, pastry or piece of chocolate. She loves what she is doing now and it shows. “My clients all come back.” With a selection like she has, I can certainly see why.

Boîte à Chocolat, Zermatt, SwitzerlandBoîte à Chocolat, Zermatt, SwitzerlandBoîte à Chocolat, Zermatt, SwitzerlandBoîte à Chocolat, Zermatt, Switzerland

Boîte à Chocolat
Bahnhofstrasse 7b
CH-3920 Zermatt
Switzerland
+41.27.967.00.25
www.boiteachocolat.ch

17 Responses to “Zermatt’s “Madame Chocolat””

  1. Jenn says:

    How did I miss this awesome place when I was in Zermatt a couple weeks ago??? Obviously this means I need to go back so I can try some of this awesome looking chocolate – these look amazing 🙂

  2. Stéphanie says:

    Birthday present… pour toi ou Olivier parce que dès que je lis le mot TRAIN je pense à lui ;)?!
    Je ne m’attendais pas à ce que la montagne en chocolat soit vide! Encore de belles photos, on voyage et mange par procuration 😉

  3. Kerry says:

    Oooo that is one of my favourite shops in Zermatt! In June/July I think I spent about 3hrs drinking/eating chocolate! Going back in Sept and will certainly be making a stop there again! Fantastic write up 😉

  4. mayssam @ Will Travel for Food says:

    That train ride sounds awesome! And to end that with a chocolate extravaganza is more than anyone could ask for! Now I’m craving some Toblerone, good thing I have some of that Bubo chocolate to hold me over 😉

  5. Kerrin says:

    Jenn, you are so lucky to live close to Zermatt – totally go back ! And say bonjour to Madame Chocolat for me ! 😉

    Stéphanie, hihi – tu nous connais trop bien. “We like trains” — mais Olivier adooOOoOore les trains ! Cadeau d’anni pour nous deux, on va dire. 😉 Et tu sais quoi – moi aussi, j’étais étonnée (et décue) quand la mini Matterhorn était vide !

    Kerry, oh how cool that this is one of your favorite shops there ! Any other fave sweet spots in Zermatt to share ? Meanwhile, *3* hours drinking and eating chocolate ?! Wow, imagine you and me together, haha ! Start making your list for September, awesome that you’re going back already.

    mayssam, you still have Bubo chocolate left over ?! How have you been able to resist ?!

  6. mayssam @ Will Travel for Food says:

    I brought some for the girls at the office but they’re sitting on my desk and I am munching away on chocolate covered salted macadamia nuts! I also bought some Paul A Young chocolates while in London, haven’t dug into those yet!! 🙂

  7. Silvia says:

    Sadly, that shop did not yet exist when I spent a summer in Zermatt. But my first Beschle bar came from there, my boyfriend brought it back from a study trip to Zermatt.

    It’s a reason more way I should go back to Zermatt!

  8. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    Seems like a visit to this delicious store is was the the icing on the cake to that spectacular train journey?

    My eye was taken by the person outside the shop smiling at the photo being taken. I’m thinking you either know that person, or everyone in the streets must be just so happy because that chocolate shop exists? 🙂

  9. Kerrin says:

    mayssam, again those lucky colleagues of yours ! Yet… how come those treats are on *your* desk then ?! haha ! You have one amazingly delicious sweet stash at the moment – enjoy some for me, please ! 🙂

    Silvia, very cool that your first Beschle bar came from there. You definitely have to go back – just think how much chocolate you have discovered since then…!

    Julia, absolutely, well said ! And excellent eye, once again. Guess who that smiling girl is… my friend Marion !! =) But as you said, who wouldn’t be smiling sitting outside a chocolate shop like this ?! 😉

  10. Anne says:

    Just had a Beschle in Flims this past weekend. I will not share the sea salt pistachio (your rec?) with my bulk eaters!

  11. wandering educators says:

    happy birthday! and yum, yum, yum. what incredible places you find. people could plan entire month-long itineraries off your articles on these delicious findings!

  12. Valentina says:

    You always better yourself. Great post. I’ve had a trip on the glacier express on my wishful travel list 1992. I know, it’s about time I get my act together. As a matter of fact the trip is part of a Swiss rail one. Taking notes. Would love to visit the shop. And the pistachio and fleur de seul chocolate is very very tempting. Oh, the açai one surprised me big time. Tonk a beans. We have plenty of those in north Brazil, but can hardly find it elsewhere in the country. Sorry… Went off track.

  13. Kerrin says:

    Anne, oh definitely, I don’t share that one either ! 🙂

    wandering educators, thanks so much for the birthday wishes !! And you know, my sweet radar is always on ! 🙂

    Valentina, muito obrigada ! Guess who I thought of when I saw the chocolate with *açai* – you ! Claro 🙂 Yes, definitely time to turn some of your wish list into a real itinerary. Hope you can soon…

  14. Andrea M. says:

    Two undeniably stunning Swiss treasures melted into one heavenly tasting. Ahhhh. Kerrin, you didn’t disappoint here. Merci vielmals!

  15. Karen@Mignardise says:

    We took the Glacier Express to Zermatt on our honeymoon almost 22 years ago. This sounds like a perfect reason to go back! Those petit chocolat Matterhorns look amazing.

  16. Emma says:

    I love trains so very much. When I hear train whistles whilst sleeping I something sit straight up, and then have to fight off the urge to jump out of bed and bike down to the tracks to watch the train pass by. I took a short scenic train ride earlier this year, but I would love to travel on trains with truly scenic views again someday soon!

    This chocolate shop looks delightful and delicious. What a lovely picture of Marie-Christine!

  17. Kerrin says:

    Andrea, bitte bitte ! 🙂

    Karen, what a fabulous idea for a honeymoon. You should go back to Zermatt for an upcoming anniversary !

    Emma, you really do need to come to Switzerland. You would be in heaven – and spend all your days on the trains here. Minus all the time you’d be jumping off said trains to visit chocolate shops and bakeries… and markets galore !! 😉

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