Brussels and chocolate, these are two things that go together well. Brussels, known as the capital of chocolate, is a chocolate lovers dream destination. This city’s love affair with chocolate goes back to when chocolate was first shipped from Africa over 100 years ago and today the love affair continues with hundreds of chocolatiers selling creative chocolate concoctions.
With chocolate shops on almost every street corner in Brussels how do you choose which morsel of artisan chocolate will be melting in your mouth? Our top places to experience chocolate in Brussels will take you on a sublime tour of the best of the best, where the art of making chocolate has been perfected.
If tasting chocolate in a chocolate shop all day is too much of a good thing (how could that be?), you can take a break to visit a chocolate museum, try your hand at chocolate making during a chocolate workshop or take a bike ride along a Best of Brussels Chocolate Route.
Top 5 Places to Experience Chocolate in Brussels
Brussels knows chocolate, and it would be difficult to find chocolate that is not great in the city but there are places where chocolate becomes art, a creation of wonderful tastes and innovative design, making the chocolatiers listed below exceptional in a city of excellent chocolate.
Everything about the Mary Chocolatier Shop is gorgeous, from the dazzling displays of chocolates, the glamorous Art Deco interior design to the ‘pretty in pastel’ or white/gold chocolate boxes. Mary Delluc was the first woman chocolatier in Brussels and was instrumental in taking chocolate, used primarily as a coating for medicine, to a luxurious treat. Mary opened her first shop in 1919 and one hundred years later it is still considered one of the best chocolate shops in the city. The chocolatier holds the Belgian Royal Warrant as a prestige supplier of the Belgian Royal Court, this royal stamp of approval that has been well earned with every piece of handmade chocolate perfection.
Opening his apothecary shop in 1857 at the Galeries Royales, founder Jean Neuhaus was the first to think of covering bitter tasting medicine with chocolate, and in 1912 his grandson Jean II created the first Belgian praline, a confection made with a soft centre surrounded with a hard chocolate shell. The Belgian praline was incredibly successful and you can still order the original recipe at the Neuhaus Chocolate Shop.
The brand has consistently supplied Belgians with high quality chocolate, which is now made from cocao supplied from their own cacao farm. They are holders of a Belgian Royal Warrant and in 2017 Bloomberg described Neuhaus chocolate truffles as “the Best Chocolate Truffle in the World”
La Maison Wittamer
La Maison Wittamer is another old family establishment in Brussels, with the first bakery and chocolate shop opening in 1910 by Henri Wittamer and his wife Marie. The company is now being run by the third generation of Wittamers and still at the forefront of the Belgian chocolate industry by making new, innovative but consistently excellent chocolates. Be sure to sample the Earl Gray Ganache, a simple chocolate morsel with a delicate infused tea flavour, so very divine.
Maison Pierre Marcolini
Pierre Marcolini may be a newcomer in the Brussels chocolate scene, but he certainly has made his mark on the industry since first opening in 1995. Considered one of the best chocolatiers in the city, Marcolini follows the ‘bean to bar’ philosophy ensuring excellence in his chocolate by workingdirectly with the world’s best cocao producers, bringing cocao beans to Brussels to roast, grind and temper in-house.
Fashionably ‘au courant’ Marcolini has collaborated in the creation the ultra chic Maison Kitsune chocolate bento boxes, Victoria Beckham Hearts and produces Oriente Cuba chocolate, being one of the first allowed to import chocolate beans from the Baracoa region of Cuba.
Awarded the title “Brussels Best Chocolatier of the Year” by France’s Gault & Milleau Magazine in 2018, Frederic Blondeel is another master chocolatier that follows the ‘bean to bar’ school of thought, he brings beans home to his factory and roasts them in a 1953 Santos Palace Coffee Roaster passed down to him from his grandfather.
Blondeel creates divine heritage chocolates but his experimental chocolates are simply sublime, try basil and lemongrass or the chili and ginger, so very good. Tours of the Blondeel Chocolate Factory are available with the Brussels’ tour operator Once in Brussels.
Brussels Chocolate Museum
Chocolate is of tremendous importance to Brussels and so it is only natural for the city to have not one but two chocolate museums devoted to the history of chocolate. The Choco Story is a small museum where you are given an introduction into history of cocao and its production as well as a fun praline making demonstration. The Belgian Chocolate Village Museum is located in the Koekelbery district of Brussels, and includes interactive exhibits, chocolate sculptures, a greenhouse with live cocao trees, an on-site café and chocolate making workshops.
A Chocolate Workshop at Laurent Gerbaud If you want to try your hand at making chocolate or think perhaps you could be the next master chocolatier, you can learn how in the place where chocolate is king. Laurent Gerbaud, one of Brussels top chocolatiers, offers a 90 minute chocolate workshop each Saturday where you learn about the different kinds of cocoa, prepare chocolate molds and decorate your own individual chocolate masterpieces, how totally tasty!
Biking and Best of Brussels Chocolate
You can quell some of the guilt of eating too much chocolate by getting on a bike in Brussels and touring some of the city’s best chocolate spots. Pro Velo will take you on a four-hour calorie reducing, blood sugar lowering trek touring some of Brussels most beautiful neighbourhoods and its famous chocolate shops. The tour includes a bike, guides and opportunity to sharpen your senses before indulging in an afternoon of chocolate tasting.
There’s so much chocolate to taste and see on a trip to Brussels so put a visit at the top of your must-do list! Start planning your delicious chocolate experience in Brussels today with flights from Air Transat.
Cover photo credits: lmnop88a