Hot Cocoa Crawl... Le Best in Paris!
There is a wise old adage that says if you love what you do, it doesn't feel like work. Well, P'Nichers, this post was pure pleasure, given my life long passion for hot chocolate. Grab your mug and let's dive in!
While we may think of hot chocolate as a distinctly Parisian treat, the roots are actually much older - think 500 BC, when the Mayans were grounding up cacao seeds (mixed with water, cornmeal, and other ingredients) for a unique chocolatey beverage.
Cacao seeds were such a luxury that they could even be used as a dowry payment of sorts, highlighting the importance of chocolate, even back then.
It seems fair to say that chocolate is just as important in today's society (at least in P'Niche's cocoa loving eyes!)
Moving quickly forward in time to the 16th century, Europe can heartily thank Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés for bringing chocolate to her shores (and her cups).
This Aztec import was truly well beloved by the Spanish royal family. As the beans could only be harvested in South America, the cost was exorbitant, and thus, truly only able to be enjoyed by the aristocracy of the time.
It was only a matter of time before chocolate was exported to the other royal kingdoms of Europe.
Chocolate first came to France in 1615. So treasured was the sweet treat, that it was offered as a gift from the 14 year old Anne of Austria to her (also 14 year old) betrothed, King Louis XIII. The gift was such a success that Anne of Austria was seen to be quite the culinary trend setter. The French royals loved their hot cocoa and even employed special chocolatiers to create blends of hot cocoa just for their pleasure. As one does...
King Louis XV was so fond of hot chocolate, (and it's aphrodisiac properties, according to his mistress, Madame du Barry), that the preparation of the drink itself became a grand ceremony, heated and served in special porcelain cocoa pots (created by fine porcelain makers, like Sèvres, as shown in this photo).
Before we list Paris' best hot cocoas, if you are interested in a challenge, I will post the King's original hot chocolate recipe (in French) just below. It's easier than you think to make, and ohhhhh so decadent!
Queen Marie-Antoinette also started each day with a cuppa cocoa. In fact, so cherished was chocolate by Her Majesty, that she employed the famous chocolatier, Debauve et Gallais, to create special chocolate discs, or pistoles, to help take her various medications and get rid of any sour taste.
You can still purchase the Queen's pistoles at Debauve et Gallais in Paris at: 30 Rue des Saints-Pères, 75007.
Chocolate-based brews are the preferred non-coffee/tea hot beverage in the majority of markets that Euromonitor researches.
With over $612 million in annual revenue, this market shows no signs of slowing down. Now, let's get to P'Niche's Parisian hot cocoa preferences (in no particular order...)
226, rue de Rivoli
P'Niche definitely said this list would fall in no particular order, but had to start with her all time favorite: Angelina.
Their Chocolat Africain is so decidedly thick, you might imagine it was maple syrup, as it pours out of their individually dainty porcelain pitchers.
Not only has this tea house (operating since 1903) been a hit with the locals (including Coco Chanel herself), with the advent of social media, it has also become popular with travelers, so do anticipate a line to get in. Trust moi, it's well worth the wait!
4, place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre
25, place des Vosges
Métro: Saint Paul
Operating since 1927, (2010 for the Place des Vosges location), you cannot help but be charmed and transported to a wonderful world of Art Deco décor whimsical and porcelain cups.
The cocoa will come in a silver pot of sorts, alongside a chalice of whipped cream so light, you must imagine you are placing a sugar cloud on your cocoa - truly divine...
11, bis Rue Scribe
Many people overlook the hot chocolate here, as it is viewed as more of a chocolate gift boutique, but rest assured, their delicious hot cocoa will impress you. Topped with rich chocolate shavings, in modern, edgy porcelain, it's a truly exceptional cocoa experience...
Café de la Paix
5, place de l'Opéra
Also in the Opéra quarter, Café de la Paix has been popular since its opening in 1862. As you sit and enjoy the completely renovated Napoleon III décor, this thick concoction will certainly satisfy your sweet tooth. Come for the cocoa and stay for the direct view of the Palais Garnier Opera House...
18, rue des Archives
Métro: Hôtel de Ville
Nestled in the heart of Le Marais, this gem is worth visiting. Notice in the photo how the steamed milk and melted cocoa come in two separate porcelain pitchers so you can make your own bespoke cocoa. It's fun and an absolutely heavenly cuppa!
75, avenue des Champs Elysées
Métro: George V
Let's be honest, when most people think of La Durée, they think of pastel colored macarons. They may also note that La Durée was the first Parisian tearoom allowing unescorted women a place at their tables. Quelle Scandale for the time!
Look past the macarons and indulge in a hot cocoa, served in La Durée's signature pastel palette cups. It's charm upon charm in this tea house...
Café de Flore
172, blvd Saint-Germain
A Parisian institution since the 1880's, it's hard not to have seen images of their café front in your social media feed. That said, their hot chocolate really stands up to the test. Served in their iconic (and able to be purchased) porcelain cups, you will thank yourself for stopping by this left bank gem.
Métro: Filles du Calvaire
Made lovingly with Valrhona chocolate sourced from Madagascar, you will experience a most unusual and beguiling cup of hot chocolate from this unique establishment. And, make sure to grab a bag of the exceptional pâte de fruit with you on the way out!
4, rue du Nil
P'Niche has to admit, she was skeptical when this modern faced spot first surfaced.
Color me happily convinced!
With the "Bean to Bar" concept, and chocolate sourced from Venezuela, Peru, and Belize, your taste buds will absolutely explode from the depth of flavor achieved. It's also the first sheep's milk hot chocolate I've ever tasted, and all I can say is "bahhhhh me another cup, please!" It was truly outstanding...
Chocolaterie Cyril Lignac
25, rue Chanzy
This cup of hot chocolate seems almost a luxury. This tasty site sees you entirely surrounded by other sugary delights such as cookies, muffins, chocolate tablets, etc.
It may seem out of the way for the traditional traveler, but if you make your way over to this predominantly residential part of Paris, your taste buds will thank you for this ohhh-so-good hot chocolate.
15, rue Montorgeuil
Métro: Les Halles
Confession Time - I was not looking for a hot chocolate when I stumbled upon this unsung hero. I was actually shopping for a box of chocolates to take as a hostess gift for my French family. (P'Niche PSA: Try their citronettes!)
Only after chatting with the charmingly friendly vendeuse did I learn that they sold hot chocolate. What a welcome surprise...
This (wintertime only) delight is brewed in a wonderful copper cauldron and will make strolling the quaint shopping street of rue Montorgeuil and absolutely not to miss Parisian experience!
Four Seasons Hotel, George V
31, avenue George V
Métro: George V
P'Niche is a top fan of the 1990s hit film, "French Kiss," filmed, in part, at the hotel George V. When the opportunity came to be able to try their hot cocoa, the answer was a quick "oui, please!"
Within "La Galerie" a hot chocolate so decadent is served that you might not even mind the sticker shock that comes on the final bill. Served in delicate and rosebud covered porcelain, in the style of Marie-Antoinette, you might find yourself wondering, "did Marie-Antoinette really say let them eat cake, or was it really, let them drink chocolate?!"
I'll let you make that delicious call, P'Nicher...
66, rue du Cherche-Midi
While this tea room may make you think you are seated cozily in the kitchen of your Mamie, or grandma, don't be deceived.
The creator of this hot cocoa goodness is a Japanese patissier, exceptionally trained in Tokyo, Japan.
Alongside equally as rich cakes and treats, it's one of the few places you can still get cocoa served to you in a bowl. Just like Mamie used to offer you...
This brings us to our baker's dozen of P'Niches favorite hot chocolates in Paris.
And believe me, this is only the tip of the chocolate iceberg. A good hot cocoa is surprisingly easy to find in most Parisian cafés. I will try to add to this list in a future post, so we hope you will subscribe to join us again at the Parisian Niche table - new friends are always welcome!
Not in Paris this "cocoa season?" Pas de problème! Looking to shop for the cocoa lover in your life? We got you (in a non-sponsored kinda way)!
Not ready to try the French hot chocolate recipe of Louis XV above but still want to try your hand at homemade cocoa?
You might like to try this simple recipe (in English)...
It's easy (and deliciously decadent) as can be...
What is your favorite hot cocoa in Paris, dear P'Nicher? Are you inspired to sip outside of your cocoa comfort zone with some of these yummy ideas? Let us know in the comments below et à bientôt!