Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog at www.eyepreferparis.com.
I know a thing or two about good chocolate.
I used to make my own chocolates in New York City, specifically sinful delicious chocolate truffles made with Belgian chocolate, and had my own shop off of Fifth Ave. Over the years I developed a discerning palate for good chocolate.
My years as a chocolatier in New York were excellent training to lead chocolate tours in Paris, where I now take clients to the best chocolate shops in the city.
Here is a list of my personal favorites, which I take clients to.
La Manufacture De Chocolat Alain Ducasse
Master chef Alain Ducasse turned his attention to chocolate making three years ago by opening the first bean to bar chocolate shop in Paris. His more than high standards have elevated chocolate to a whole new level, akin to fine wine. The sublime taste lingers a few moments after it you finish it and one piece can totally satisfy you, even though you could eat more in a heartbeat. The main focus is the chocolate tablets wrapped in brown paper, which come in 48 varieties. The cacao percentage runs the gamut, from 35 percent for milk chocolate to 85 percent for the most bittersweet, as well of the country of origin for the beans, ranging from Mexico to Madagascar. Another specialty is the classic orangettes, candies orange rind dipped in chocolate.
40 rue de la Roquette, 75011
26 rue Saint Benoit, 75006
Sometimes nicknamed the Bad Boy of Chocolate, Patrick Roger is an anomaly. He is a serious sculptor, creating museum quality sculptures in metal and wood, but he is also a chocolatier, extending his materials to incorporate chocolate. His quirky and sometimes humorous chocolate sculptures have graced the windows of his numerous shops in Paris and have included life sized apes and orangutans. His latest venture is a collaboration with the newly reopened Rodin Museum, where he chiseled a replica of The Thinker in chocolate. Aside from his sculpting talent, Roger brings the same creativity into the kitchen, creating intense flavored chocolates with unusual ingredients such as lemongrass, oatmeal, and ginger.
108 boulevard Saint-Germain 75006
3 place de la Madeleine 75008
2-4, place St Sulpice 75006
45 avenue Victor Hugo 75016
91 rue de Rennes 75006
199 rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré 75008
Jean Paul Hevin
Winning over a dozen awards for his superior chocolates and pastries, Jean Paul Hevin is a favorite among Parisians and tourists who flock to his rue Saint Honore shop. He has an extensive product line, including individual chocolates and bars, chocolate pastries, caramels, chocolate and nut spreads, and macarons. True chocoholics should make their way upstairs to the hot chocolate bar, where they can experience pure chocolate melted in a cup in flavors such as raspberry, matcha tea and ginger.
231 rue Saint Honore, 75001
In my search for truffles rivaling the ones I used to make, I am hard pressed to find any that taste as good or have the same texture, but at Jean-Charles Rochoux I found my match. The shop in the Saint Germain area is the size of a candy box, and the classic truffle is the star of the show, a dusting of cocoa on the outside before you bite into the smooth, velvety chocolate inside. Hard shell truffle flavors include peppercorn, cherry, rose, mountain honey black currant, and orange blossom.
16 Rue d'Assas, 75006