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Chocolat


It is said that the Swiss like their chocolate with milk, the Belgians love their pralines, and the French are unapologetic about their preference for dark chocolate. For the chocoholic visitor to Paris, these are the masters of chocolate whose luscious creations should not be missed! This list has been compiled by Courtney Traub for About.com. PATRICK ROGER, 108 bd St Germain, Paris 6eme. The chocolatier Patrick Roger recently opened a store in St Germain: his original store in the south Paris suburb of Sceaux. As good at tradition as he is at innovation, Patrick Roger won the title of best French artisan in 2000. He is well-known by food connoisseurs like David Lebovitz for his rochers (featuring a contrast of smooth praline filling and crunchy hazelnut flecks), ganaches, or dark chocolate complemented by flavours like lime or hot pepper. Don't miss his seasonal, and always quirky, store windows. LA MAISON DU CHOCOLAT, 225, rue du Faubourg St Honore, Pris 8eme. Opened in 1977 by Robert Linxe (who was once referred to as a "ganache magician), La Maison du Chocolat has several stores in Paris, and their world-renowned chocolates can also be ordered online. For those who don't like bitter chocolate, this is your shop -- La Maison du Chocolat never uses more than 65% cocoa in their confections, to avoid a bitter flavour. World-famous for their ganaches, this shop also specialises in truffles, mendiants (slices of chocolate topped with dried fruit) and bars with fruit or herbal notes. MICHEL CHAUDUN, 149, rue de l'Universite, Paris 7eme. The former head of La Maison du Chocolat, Michel Chaudun is, hands-down, one of the world's best artisan chocolatiers. Known for his whimsy as much as his mastery of the classics, you can expect to find anything from simple dark or milk bars to chocolate crafter to look exactly like sausages at his shop. Chaudun is also a talented chocolate sculptor - he once cast a chocolate mould out of performance artist Laurent Moriceau, which was then devoured by spectators at the Palais de Tokyo. A must for chocolate lovers. CHRISTIAN CONSTANT, 37, rue d'Assas, Paris 6eme. Christian Constat has two shops in Paris, one close to the Luxembourg Gardens. His chocolate is rated by food critics worldwide as some of the finest, and he is particularly applauded for delicacies like raspberry ganaches, chocolate-covered orange peel, chocolates with spicy or herbal notes, or his famous 'palet d'or', confected from fresh cream and dark chocolate. Christian Constant also offers a dazzling selection of cakes, pastries and five – count 'em, five – decadent varieties of hot chocolate. JOSEPHINE VANNIER, 4, rue Pas de la Mule, Paris 4eme. This is a lesser-known gem of an artisan chocolate shop nestled in the Marais district on the right bank. Offering a dizzying array of creations, from chocolate masks, mini-grand pianos and all-chocolate replicas of vintage ads, to classics like crispy nougatine, truffles or mendiants, the Josephine Vannier shop is guaranteed to seduce adults and kids. Gourmet ice cream is also served here, including a flavour called 'Groove', described on the shop website, cryptically enough, as 'pipes of Sri Lanka'. Only a visit will unveil the mystery... MICHEL CLUIZEL, 201, rue St Honore, Paris 1er. Michel Cluizel chocolates have been renowned since the mid-20th century, when Michel Cluizel first opened a family-run shop in Normandy. One of the rare chocolatiers to process their own carefully-selected cocoa beans, Michel Cluizel's chocolates are known for their distinct, balanced flavours. At the famous store near the Tuileries gardens and the St Honore fashion district, visitors can indulge in delicious dark or milk bars, each produced from a distinct blend of cocoa beans in Cluizel's chocolateire. Whole cocoa beans can also be purchased. PIERRE HERME, 72, rue Bonaparte, Paris 6eme. The world's most celebrated pastry chef, Pierre Herme has also won accolades for his line of gourmet chocolates. At the main shop in the St Germain district, chocolate aficionados will find an incomparable selection of chocolate cakes, pastries and macaroons, as well as unclassifiable confections like the famous 'Death by Chocolate' - the name speaks for itself. You can also sample varieties of chocolates sure to stimulate the palate, such as pralines with caramelised seeds or ganaches with orange and balsamic vinegar. JEAN-PAUL HEVI, 231, rue St Honore, Paris 1er. Another renowned chocolate artisan is Jean Paul Hevin, whose chic boutique and upstairs tea room in the heart of the Rue St Honore fashion district merits a visit. At the boutique, high grade solid chocolate bats and beautiful chocolate pastries lie in the counter in addition to a large collection of ganache and whimsical chocolate sculptures. Hevin has a peculiar talent for using Asian-inspired ingredients such as ginger. In the tea room, I recommend trying one of Hevin's signature gourmet hot chocolates. Source: Top Paris Chocolate Shops, by Courtney Traub, About.com.