Belgium’s obsession with chocolate is not imaginary; the country produces over 170,000 tonnes of the stuff every year. And although other cities such as Barcelona and Zurich can also lay title to ‘chocolate capital of Europe’, chocolate shops form a strong part of the urban scenery in central Brussels. Here are a few of the best places to get your hit:
Godiva, place du Grand Sablón, 47
Godiva is not Belgium’s most famous name is chocolate for nothing, and they can be bought considerably cheaper than at home here in its flagships store. Choose from bon-bons in new season’s flavours such as Spring Raspberry Tart or their classic ganaches and truffles. Godiva’s travel-friendly packaging, using petite boxes and bows, is exquisite.
Galler, rue au Beurre, 44
Galler is what the Belgium Royal Family nibble on when overtaken with chocolate craving. Jean Galler’s chocolate tablets, which come in stylish, minimalist packaging, make great gifts. As is the trend in the competitive world of’ haute chocolate’, these are divided into ‘collections’; for something classic, try the ‘Heritage’ flavours with a high cocoa count or cocoa beans from different regions of Africa and the Americas in the ‘Blended Range’.
Pierre Marcolini, place du Grand Sablón, 39
Considered to be the Christian Dior of chocolate making, Pierre Marcolini products come in refined boxes and wrappers in dusty colours—the epitome of gourmet chic. His chocolates seem to possess a certain je no sais quois, with their name etched in silver on the surface itself or spices and fruit sprinkled and arranged just so. Sinful biscuits are also sold in this minimalist boutique.
Wittamer, place du Grand Sablón, 6 and 12
One of the great names of Belgian chocolate and pastry making, the Wittamer café-shop has been a landmark in Brussels since 1910 and has retained its fin de siècle ambiance. If you are hankering for high tea this is the place, as all sorts of delectable cakes, pastries and above all macaroons temptingly await you (March 20th has actually been baptised ‘Macaroon Day’ by the Wittamers).
Planete Chocolat, rue du Lombard, 24
As the name suggests, pretty everything there is to know about Belgian chocolate can be found at the fun shop-café Planete Chocolat. There are regular chocolate-making demonstrations and tastings, as well as a large selection of funky chocolate products to buy, making this a great place to take children.