People always ask me, “Who is the best chocolatier in Paris?” That is like asking a tree hugger if they would rather save a Japanese maple or a Magnolia tree. But I like playing favorites so here are my top two cacao picks:
Jacques Genin - If you poll Parisians about their favorite chocolatier, most of them will proudly say Jacques Genin.
Inadvertently playing hard to get, Genin used to only have a lab where you could only score his chocolate by making an appointment and purchasing in bulk. But to the delight of his loyal following, he opened a storefront in 2008 in the trendy Marais district. The store’s interior can go up against the elegance of any Cartier store.
In addition to texture and pristine presentation, the French regard subtlety as another key criterion for determining the worthiness of a chocolate. What that means: When you put a chocolate in your mouth, the taste should come out gradually and not punch you in the face. Genin is a master of not punching you in the face.
The chocolates taste as out of this world as they look, but I actually covet their caramels more. In several flavors such as mango and pistachio, locals also agree his chewy candies reign supreme.
If you get a chance, take a seat on the cafe side and get a made-to-order mille-feuille.
Patrick Roger: (Remember we’re in France so his last name has the delightful pronunciation of Row-zhay!) No one can beat Patrick Roger’s off-the-wall displays. With six chocolate boutique stores in Paris, the eclectic chocolatier’s bright blue Tiffany-like boxes have a brand recognition all on their own.
Locals and tourists go for the high-end chocolates and both audiences occasionally go just to take a peak at Roger’s extraordinary edible sculptures. Hippos and monkeys with wings adorn his shops. Check out his newest store in the 8th district on Place de la Madeline, which acts as part retail and part gallery.
My favorites: His tonka/marzipan ganache and his round kaffir lime confection.
Chapon: Because I cannot get enough of Chapon’s yuzu-cashew chocolate creation. That is all.
Jean-Charles Rochoux: For mastering the French chocolate trademark of subtlety and nailing creative flavors such as Cigar.