Chocolate, one of Brussel’s most precious jewels

If Brussels had a perfume, it would definitely be chocolate!

When you arrive in Brussels, close your eyes... and breathe in the magical scents permeating the neighbourhood of its master chocolatiers. Melt before the manons, truffles, mendiants and other chocolate delights that are bought and sold in the innumerable shops all around you. Try your hand at one of the many workshops just waiting to teach you the art of making chocolate delicacies. Have a party with your colleagues or friends in the chocolate shops that open their doors and their hearts to you... there’s even something for the very youngest among us. Discover chocolate's most intimate secrets in the city’s museums. Give yourself a head-to-toe chocolate experience. Pure bliss…

 

  • The story of the little coco bean that became praline

    Ten years after Christopher Columbus arrived in America, the cocoa bean set about its conquest of Europe. This rare bean, more precious than gold, had been the exclusive preserve of the most powerful rulers and kings. As the industry developed, it became more readily available to ordinary Europeans. The love story between Brussels and chocolate was about to begin. Jean Neuhaus, a pharmacist, developed an original technique to mask the unpleasant taste of medicines by coating them in a thin layer of chocolate. In 1912, he had the gourmet-inspired idea of replacing the medicines with... fresh cream. The praline was born! And to protect these delicate pralines, his wife created a cardboard package designed to look like a jewellery box: the ballotin. One hundred years later, a ballotin box filled with pralines is always the most popular gift to give or receive in Brussels.

  • Walks to relish

    Sablon
    The Sablon district alone has an enormous range of chocolatiers to visit. Pierre Marcolini is one of the leaders, reinventing the industry with his intensely flavoured, exciting chocolate creations. Wittamer is still the master of chocolate art and the Frenchman Patrick Roger works with the raw material, transforming chocolate into giant edible works of art. Close by, don’t forget to visit these chocolate boutiques: Belvas and its 100% organic and fair trade pralines, the mythical manons of the historic house of Léonidas and Passion Chocolat, which aims to rediscover lost flavours.
     
    Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
    The Centre neighbourhood is the historic cradle of the Brussels chocolatier’s art. It was in the Galeries Royales that the praline was born, thanks to the ingenuity of Jean Neuhaus. Here too you will find Corné 1932 and Corné Port-Royal in a magnificent Art Nouveau style boutique and Mary, a historic establishment that offers over 70 different types of chocolate ranging from mousse to the justly famous manon.
     
    In the Grand-Place area
    This neighbourhood teems with big names from the chocolate world. Jean-Philippe Darcis suggests that his chocolate should be accompanied by a (very) good wine, champagne or whisky. Pierre Ledent‘s amazing creations bear the delicious names of Rosa, Gigi and Pamela. Bruyerre sells delightful handmade pralines famous for their centres; and Godiva, which is sold in over 80 countries, will charm you with its exquisite classic chocolates with that special, elusive taste that you can’t quite pin down. Jean Galler manages to combine the renowned Brussels chocolate with the cartoon world with its fun langues de chat biscuits designed by Philippe Geluck.
     
    Mont des Arts & Sainte Catherine
    In the extremely trendy Sainte-Catherine district, an irresistible aroma will guide your path to Frederic Blondeel‘s shop. He is passionate about chocolate-making and a roaster extraordinaire and while you are there, give in to temptation and order an ice cream or an exceptional hot chocolate in his café. Are you fond of orangettes and other fruit sweets? Then head for the Mont des Arts, to Laurent Gerbaud‘s boutique-atelier and try to resist his kumquats, ginger and pears hidden beneath a coating of the darkest grand cru… Quite irresistible.
     
    Other treasures you can find in Brussels
    In the Bailli-Bascule neighbourhood, everyone is talking about the newcomer, Benoit Nihant. He is a true craftsman who travels to the farthest corners of the world to select the very best cocoa beans. He roasts them himself with the utmost dedication to detail and then proceeds to turn them into haute-couture chocolates, one of whose biggest fans is Lionel Rigolet, the chef of the multi-starred restaurant "Comme chez Soi", for whom he has produced two unique creations.
     
    Between Flagey and the la Chasse district, the Vandenhende boutique offers sweet treats made from local produce: pralines with honey from the Parc du Cinquantenaire and raspberry-flavoured ganaches au Cuberdon. Jérôme Grimonpon, who was voted best Artisan Chocolatier in Belgium in 2012, creates a different praline every month made from seasonal products in his unique shop in Uccle.

  • Workshops and other discoveries

    Do it yourself and experience the tastiest fun in Brussels. It’s your choice: tasting grands crus and making truffles or mini mendiants at Laurent Gerbaud. Take part in an interactive demonstration and discover the extraordinary history of cocoa and create a praline at Planète Chocolat. And try Zaabär, for its chocolate workshops and birthday parties for kids and its cocktail and private parties for grown-ups held right in the chocolaterie. At the Mary workshops, you can experience the conquest of the new world projected on a giant screen. And for enlightened amateurs, Concept Chocolate will get your taste buds tingling with their "Vin & chocolat" workshop. In fact you are spoilt for choice… so check your diaries and make a date!

  • Try these museums

    Two museums will teach you everything you need to know about the famous cocoa bean: the Belgian Chocolate Village - located in the delicious former biscuiterie-chocolaterie Victoria, just a stone’s throw from the Koekelberg basilica - is Belgium's largest museum dedicated to chocolate. Near the Grand-Place, stop by Choco-Story Brussels, a must for anyone who loves Belgian chocolate.

  • Chocolate sauces of every kind

    So you thought that chocolate was just a little square of sugary happiness that melts on the tongue, or something to flavour a cup of hot milk? You are in for a surprise. Chocolate is like a Swiss knife; there are a 1000 ways to use it:
    It can make you beautiful: added to the most advanced new cosmetics it will leave your skin glowing and fresh. You can be enveloped in chocolate for a delicious massage. Top chefs have brought it to the table, with a new take on the most famous dishes in Brussels cuisine. So, just for you, here is the recipe for the "wonderful Brussels carbonnades au chocolat"…. Try it!

    1kg of excellent stewing beef
    750ml red wine
    40g dark chocolate with 70%+ cocoa
    250g smoked streaky bacon or pancetta
    2 onions
    2 cloves garlic
    1 carrot, sliced
    1 bouquet garni
    40g butter
    1 whole clove
    4 soup spoons of flour
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    Olive oil

    Heat some olive oil in a large pan and brown the meat on all sides. Sprinkle with flour and mix well (scraping up the meat juices). Add the chopped bacon or pancetta and cook for a further 2-3 min. Add the wine, onions and minced garlic, carrot, bouquet garni and clove. Cover and cook for 2 hours on moderate heat. Add the chocolate and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes. Check the seasoning and serve hot with home-made chips (French fries). Bon appétit!

  • Let someone be your guide

    If you’d rather get help from the experts, there are several enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides who will gladly share the history of the little cocoa bean with you, along with the secrets of Brussels’ greatest chocolatiers. Discoveries, tastings and guaranteed fun... just ask for the programme!

  • Shops

    • Belgian Chocolate Village    

    Rue De Neck 20    De Neckstraat 20    1081 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 4207076    
    www.belgianchocolatevillage.be

    • Belvas    

    Rue de Rollebeek 48    Rollebeekstraat 48    1000 BRU  
    T +32 (0)2 7810024    
    www.belvas.be

    • Frederic Blondeel    

    Quai aux Briques 24    Baaksteenkaai 24    1000 BRU  
    T +32 (0)2 5022131    
    www.frederic-blondeel.be

    • Bruyerre    

    Grand-Place 20    Grote Markt 20    1000 BRU    
    www.bruyerre.eu

    • Chocopolis    

    Rue du Marché aux Herbes 110    Grasmarkt 110    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5133390    
    www.chocopolis.com

    • Choco-Story    

    Rue de la Tête d'Or 9    Guldenhoofdstraat 9    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5142048    
    www.choco-story-brussels.be

    • Corné 1932    

    Galerie du Roi 24-26    Koningsgalerij 24-26    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 4630860    
    www.corne1932.be

    • Corné Port-Royal    

    Galerie de la Reine 5    Koningingalerij 5    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 2136222    
    www.corneportroyal.com

    • Jean-Philippe Darcis    

    Rue au Beurre 40    Boterstraat 40    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5021414    
    www.darcis.com

    • Galler    

    Rue au Beurre 44    Boterstraat 44    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5020266    
    www.galler.com

    • Laurent Gerbaud    

    Rue Ravenstein 2D    Ravensteinstraat 2D    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5111602    
    www.chocolatsgerbaud.be

    • Godiva    

    Grand-Place 21-22    Grote Markt 21-22    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5112537    
    www.godivachocolates.eu

    • Jérôme Grimonpon    

    Chaussée d'Alsemberg 469    Alsembergsesteenweg 469    1180 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 3439344    
    www.jgrimonponchocolatier.be

    • Irsi    

    Rue du Bailli 15    Baljuwstraat 15    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 6487050    
    www.irsi-chocolatier.be

    • Pierre Ledent    

    Rue au Beurre 19    Boterstraat 19    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5139914    
    www.pierreledent.be

    • Leonidas    

    Rue au Beurre 38    Boterstraat 38    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 2180363    
    www.leonidas.com

    • Pierre Marcolini    

    Rue des Minimes 1    Minimemstraat 1    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5141206    
    www.marcolini.com

    • Mary    

    Galerie de la Reine 36    Koningingalerij 36    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5113959    
    www.mary.be

    • Neuhaus    

    Galerie de la Reine 25-27    Koningingalerij 25-27    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5126359    
    www.neuhaus.be

    • Benoit Nihant    

    Chaussée de Waterloo 506    Waterloosesteenweg 506    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5348100    
    www.benoitnihant.be

    • Passion Chocolat    

    Rue Bodenbroek 2-4    Bodenbroekstraat 2-4    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5147714    
    www.passionchocolat.be

    • Patrick Roger    

    Place du Grand Sablon 43    Grote Zavel 43    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5147046    
    www.patrickroger.com

    • Planète Chocolat    

    Rue du Lombard 24    Lombardstraat 24    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5110755    
    www.planetechocolat.be

    • Vandenhende    

    Chaussée de Wavre 643    Waversesteenweg 643    1040 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 6446300    
    www.chocolatier-vandenhende.be

    • Vandeparre    

    Rue de l'Eglise 168    Kerkstraat 168    1150 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 3776599    
    www.chocolaterie-vandeparre.be

    • Wittamer    

    Place du Grand Sablon 6    Grote Zavel 6    1000 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5123742    
    www.wittamer.com

    • Zaabär    

    Chaussée de Charleroi 125    Charleroisesteenweg 125    1060 BRU    
    T +32 (0)2 5339580    
    www.zaabar.com