With Europe playing host to some of the most famous chocolatiers, it is easy for chocolate lovers to find some dreamy destinations for their holidays. If you fancy heading out on a chocolate adventure, here are a few destinations that you won’t want to miss!
Probably the most famous chocolate heaven destination is Belgium. Belgian chocolate is often considered to be the best chocolate around and they take their chocolate production very seriously, with over 2,000 chocolate shops in the country. The most well known is probably the Grand-Place, where every third shops sells chocolate of some kind.
Their interest in chocolate began hundreds of years ago, but it was in the early 1900s when Belgium became famous with what they called Praline. These flavoured fillings came in many varieties, including nougats, creams, hazelnuts and fruits.
Bruges has been dubbed the chocolate capital and you will find literally hundreds of chocolate sellers here. November sees the city’s Chocolate Festival, where the sweet is celebrated and menus include chocolate in every course.
If Belgium isn’t chocolatey enough for you, head to Switzerland. Next to watches and railways, the Swiss make some very tasty chocolate. Switzerland got into the chocolate making business early, but it was in 1819 that chocolate became popular and with it came one of the biggest brands in confectionary, Nestle.
Of course, other brands have emerged since, including Suchard and Lindt, which continue to dominate the chocolate industry throughout Europe. The Swiss take their chocolate very seriously and have seasonal offerings, such as Chocolate chestnuts and mushrooms in Autumn and chocolate flowers in the Spring.
Head to Bern, the birthplace of the famous Toblerone or visit Alprose Schoko’s factory and museum in Lugano-Caslano. The chocolate covers over 3,000 years of chocolate-making history and you can taste samples of the company’s latest products as you go.
On your chocolate travels don’t forget Spain, which was essentially the first place in Europe to discover the delights of the cocoa bean.
Take a city break to La Villajoyosa, or chocolate city, as it is more commonly known, home to the gourmet chocolate brand Valor. They began in 1881 and are still very popular today and you can take a wander around their chocolate museum, where you can see just how the chocolate industry came together as well as learning more about the Valor brand.
One of the leading chocolate producing countries in the world is Holland and it was here that big names in confectionary such as Kinder Chocolade began.
Dutch chocolate has a significant place in history thanks to Conrad Van Houton, who discovered that adding cocoa powder to cocoa butter could make something tasty. What’s more, he designed the machine to help him do it, making chocolate easier to produce.
Dutch chocolate has a strong flavour and is great for baking and cooking, as well as being a popular addition to alcoholic beverages and coffees. In fact, chocolate continues to be one of Holland’s biggest revenues.
Finally, don’t forget good old England when it comes to chocolate. After all, the UK is still home to some of confectionary’s biggest brands. Fry’s of Bristol was the biggest name in developing the chocolate bar. In 1847, Joseph Fry found a way to blend together cocoa powder, cocoa butter and sugar to make a paste.
This paste was easily manipulated and very soon became the first versions of a chocolate bar. As the process was perfected, these crude chocolate bars became edible without the need for cooking or treating the chocolate first. Hence the craze for chocolate caught on!
These days, the UK is home to big named brands such as Cadbury’s and Mars. Cadbury’s remains where it laid its roots, in Birmingham, where you can now visit the factory and enjoy the Cadbury’s World Experience. With over 200 years of history in chocolate making, there is lots to see and do when you visit.
Alternatively, visit the Harrods Chocolate Bar in London for the full on chocolate treatment. Described as a chocoholics fantasy, the bar has chocolate fountains, hot and cold chocolate drinks and chocolate inspired menus.