It’s Bayonne, Bordeaux’s neighbor to the south, that is the chocolate capital of France. But plenty of chocolate makers have set up shop right here in Bordeaux and you can find some of the best chocolate in all of France right here in the Wine Capital of the World. Since it’s just about Valentine’s Day, I’ve tasted countless chocolates in Bordeaux to determine the best to give your sweetheart. Not that you really need an excuse, because French chocolates make an excellent gift to bring home from your trip. You’ll want to pick up some chocolate souvenirs from these best chocolate shops in Bordeaux:
1. La Maison Darricau
La Maison Darricau has been making chocolates for over 100 years. The business has been handed down through the family and if you pop in, you’ll most likely find Lawrence, the wife of the chocolate maker, who will be more than happy to chat about their passion for chocolate.
Michel is the chocolate maker and he mainly uses cocoa beans from Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Madagascar. All the chocolates are handcrafted daily.
What to try: Violet, a dark chocolate ganache with violet; basil, a chocolate ganache with a refreshing burst of basil; and Médoc, a wine confit in dark chocolate.
La Maison Darricau, 7 Place Gambetta.
2. Hasnaâ Chocolats Grands Crus
After making a bet with her husband, Hasnaâ Ferreira entered to appear on France’s version of Masterchef. It was during her time competing on Masterchef that she realized her dream to become a chocolatier.
Hasnaâ promptly completed her CAP chocolatier-confiseur with honors and when she couldn’t find a chocolate maker to hire her, she decided to open her very own shop here in Bordeaux. At just 31 years of age, she opened her gourmet chocolate shop in late 2016. I wasted no time discovering it and her delicious “grand cru” chocolates.
What to try: Paixao, a praline filled with apricot and passion fruit ganache; Maxima, a praline filled with grapefruit ganache and hazelnut cream; Madinina, a praline filled with banana rum ganache.
Hasnaâ Chocolats Grands Crus, 4 rue de la Vieille Tour.
Cadiot-Badie was started by two brothers with a passion for chocolate in 1826 and it’s been a Bordeaux institution ever since. The original shop was once located on Rue Saint Catherine, Bordeaux’s – and Europe’s – longest pedestrian shopping street.
Cadiot-Badie moved to Les Allées de Tourny in 1895, and though the shop has changed ownership throughout the years, it remains in the very same spot selling chocolates and confections to this day with the secret recipes from the brothers who started it.
What to try: Guinettes Bordelaises, dark chocolate covered sour cherries that have been macerated in a Kirsch-based eau-de-vie and Diamant Noir, ganache of grape pulp macerated in Bordeaux wine coated in dark chocolate and dusted with sugar.
Cadiot-Badie, 26 Allée de Tourny.
4. Mademoiselle de Margaux
Like the Tiffany’s of Bordeaux’s chocolate world, Mademoiselle de Margaux chocolates are recognizable in their famous sky blue boxes.
She’s been making chocolates and combining the fruits of the Aquitaine with chocolate since 1969. The Sarments du Médoc (chocolate sprigs in the shape of grape vines) and Guinettes (sour cherries macerated in Armagnac and dipped in chocolate) are the shop’s specialties and are even now listed in the inventory of the gastronomic heritage of Aquitaine. The Sarments du Médoc come in different flavors like raspberry, Earl Gray tea, orange and limited edition flavors.
The shop also has regular Thursday evening events pairing chocolate with different things like beer, foie gras and wine and spirits. You can check their website for upcoming events.
What to try: Sarmets du Médoc (I like the raspberry), Guinettes and Perles du Médoc (soft grapes macerated in a peach and apricot syrup then encased in dark chocolate).
Mademoiselle de Margaux, 16 Rue Fernand Philippart.
5. Chocolaterie Saunion
Thierry Lalet is one of the 12 best chocolate makers in France, having received an award from the Le Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat in 2008. He’s also the fourth generation chocolate maker at Chocolaterie Saunion, which has been open in Bordeaux since 1893.
I live just down the street and wasted no time discovering the shop. My mom has even brought the chocolates home on one of her trips. The guinettes are a specialty of the shop, as are the Lillet; a dark chocolate with the apertif Lillet, a blend of Bordeaux wines and citrus liqueur.
Thierry told me chocolate is like wine and the terroir matters. He develops contemporary delicacies from cocoa beans grown in particular soils. The chocolates are handcrafted in the laboratory next door to the shop.
What to try: Guinettes, Lillet, Le Gallien (a nougat and praline) and Pavé des Chartrons (honey, cherries, orange and almonds in chocolate).
Chocolaterie Saunion, 56 Cours Georges Clemenceau.