If you want to be happy, eat chocolate! We’ve all experienced the bliss of biting a square of the decadent treat: it not only satisfies our sweet tooth but is therapeutic, too. Science says dark chocolate offers a mood-enhancing effect and, with several renowned chocolatiers around Europe, it should be easy as pie to find a chocolate that comforts you.
European chocolate companies run the gamut from small-production purveyors to large conglomerates. We’ve narrowed down our list of favorite European chocolate shops to boutique chocolatiers, some big and some small, in the most iconic chocolate-producing nations in Europe. While some shops offer a plethora of treats and others a more curated selection, what they all have in common is a passion and commitment to producing high-quality chocolate. So, go ahead and treat yourself this winter!
Chocolate is a source of pride for Switzerland. Milk chocolate was invented here and the country boasts myriad innovative chocolatiers. Zurich is the place to be if you want decadent Swiss chocolate. In addition to the Chocolate Museum, the city features Max Chocolatier on Schlüsselgasse. Founded by Patrik König, this boutique shop is one of our favorite spots to try a bar.
The elder König opened the shop in 2009 in homage to his son, a lifelong chocolate aficionado with Downs Syndrome. Max König embodies the principles of the shop: authenticity, honesty and happiness.
The shop’s trademark is an “X,” which represents Max’s additional chromosome. All the ingredients used are local and 100 percent natural, which makes the chocolate incredibly creamy and rich. Expect a wide range of fillings including berry jam and gianduja. Our pick? Candied ginger sticks with dark Grand Cru chocolate from Madagascar!
When it comes to milk chocolate, if it’s not Switzerland it’s Belgium. For many, Belgian chocolate reigns supreme. In Brussels, you’ll find Galler, a small-batch purveyor that prides itself on its commitment to the planet.
The shop manifesto—”Chocolate with taste. A project with meaning”—is embodied in its organic and fair-trade chocolate. Try one of 11 tempting flavors. Our favorite is the Dark Speculaas. Seventy percent cocoa is enhanced with the cinnamon-flavored biscuit, a traditional holiday cookie savored on St. Nicholas’ Day in Belgium. It’s a true taste of the country!
While innovative flavors like the ones mentioned are always appreciated, sometimes traditional recipes are so good that nothing needs to be changed. This is how things are done at À la Mère de Famille, the oldest chocolate shop (circa 1761) in Paris.
Entering the hallowed confines—deemed a historic landmark in 1984—is like traveling back in time to the Belle Epoque: You can still walk on the original mosaic tiled floor, admire the antique metal chandeliers and pay at the wooden cashier desk. Writer Emile Zola was a fan of this Parisian chocolatier and it’s no wonder why. From classic praline rochers to chocolate-covered orange peels, along with nougat, and a unique range of bars strewn by hand with hazelnuts, almonds and chunks of candied ginger, it’s a place to make Willy Wonka go mad with envy.
Don’t leave without trying a slice of cake. The most popular is the Cake aux Folies de l’Ecureuil, a vibrantly aromatic treat with chocolate-covered hazelnut and caramelized almonds. Sometimes you can even smell the aroma of it baking from the street!
The aroma of handmade chocolate emanates from Cioccolateria Pfatisch, a historic shop in Turin, Italy. The chocolatier continues to preserve a rich heritage spawning centuries of expertise even though the shop is only 100 years old. Pfatisch is so well maintained that it has often been used as a set for historic movies and TV series.
The chocolatier, which boasts a museum to chocolate production inside its Via Sacchi location, produces a variety of delights but its liqueur-infused chocolates are world renowned. You can find a wide selection, from the traditional to original and daring fillings such as Barolo Chinato.
Piedmont is known for its gianduia, a combination of cocoa and hazelnut paste, which is the base for some of the most important chocolate products—think gianduiotti and cremini. If you visit during Christmas, don’t forget to snag a Pan Gianduja, a version of panettone filled with nuggets of gianduja chocolate.
Berlin, Germany, is not as famous as Turin for its chocolate tradition, however, it hosts one of our favorite larger shops: Rausch Schokoladenhaus. This fifth-generation, family-run business in Gendarmenmarkt is a mecca for chocoholics.
With the longest chocolate counter in the world, it is nigh on impossible to count the number of variations on offer but one thing is certain: you can find only the finest ingredients and the highest standards here. Enjoy a selection of exquisite pralines and truffles, decadent and rich fondue and hot chocolate beverages. Try the cocoa with chilies for a spicy pick me up! If you’re looking for a bite to eat, take the glass elevator to the cafe—you’ll be treated to a menu of tasty delights in a convivial atmosphere.
While you’re picking out your souvenir, admire the handcrafted chocolate replicas of Berlin’s iconic sites from Brandenburg Gate to the Reichstag! There is also an active chocolate “volcano” that bubbles real melted chocolate!
There is nothing better than travel unless it’s a trip with a chocolate souvenir!