When you think of Belgium, you likely conjure images of waffles laden with toppings galore, glasses brimming with beer but, most importantly, chocolate! Yes, Belgium, famous for its many wonderful chocolateries, is a delight for all the senses when it comes to the sweet treat, and a trip there is sure to leave you licking your lips as you head home (hopefully with a bag of cocoa as a souvenir).
Alas, how did chocolate become Belgium’s ‘thing’? Well, it’s been a major industry over there since the 19th century and has since gained an international reputation for its produce being incredibly yummy, to put it simply! In the 17th century, explorers brought chocolate from South America when it was a sign of luxury. These wow-worthy beans were then used to rustle up steaming cups of hot chocolate in a bid to impress new visitors.
The raw materials used in chocolate production in Belgium are mostly produced in Africa, Central America and South America and using this moreish cocoa means we tourists get to taste chocolate like we’ve never tasted before. However, the eclectic, beautiful city that is Brussels, Belgium’s capital, has a tremendous array of chocolatiers, making it hard for us tourists to know where to search. So, for now, here are five of the best to get you started…
La Belgique Gourmande
If a simple bar of chocolate doesn’t quite cut the cloth then La Belgique Gourmande is likely your bag. This epic chocolatier looks like something from a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie and brings together all of the best Belgian artisan products into one spot. We’re talking pralines, almonds, waffles and more, oh and chocolate, of course!
The chocolate here is so delicious and boy is there a lot of it. You can even bag yourself a personalised vintage box to house your lip-smacking treats, and if it gets too filling then why not wash it all down with one of the 250 plus bottles of beer on offer.
Rue de l’Etuve 49-51, 1000 Brussels
Elisabeth is quite the spot for some chocolate and there’s a real selection on offer at this Brussels bolthole. Wander inside and you’ll be transported to a shop abuzz with pots upon pots upon pots of chocolate, as well as same-day whipped meringues and fluffy marshmallow cakes.
You can delve into the finery of Brussels chocolate by feasting on the likes of chocolate coffee beans, chocolate spoons, praline bars and even bowls of chocolate flowers in milk, white and dark. And even if you’re stuffed, Elisabeth is so pretty and Instagrammable that you’ll be sure to get some snaps to tempt your appetite at a later date.
Boterstraat 43 Rue au Beurre, 1000 Brussels
This chocolatier uses some of the rarest chocolate beans and experimental flavours to create, well, miracle chocolate! You’ll find exquisite offerings including cardamom, passion fruit and liquorice.
Pierre Marcolini roasts coffee beans himself and packages them in the most beautiful boxes, meaning they’ll make sensational gifts for family or friends. If you’re visiting, give the chocolate tablets a try, £6, with classic flavours of milk and white chocolate for those erring away from experimental, to Sambirano Madagascar tablet and Cocoa flower tablet for those wanting to try something new.
Galerie de la Reine 21, 1000 Bruxelles
Just over 100 years ago, something delicious evolved in Brussels, thanks to the creative passion of Mary Delluc, who opened her first chocolate shop on rue Royale, selling tea and bon bons. Heaven! Holding a Belgian Royal Warrant, since 1942, and with chocolates neatly presented in its iconic flower-patterned, or heart shaped boxes, the Chocolaterie Mary has an appreciated and esteemed level of craftmanship found inside.
Although situated throughout Belgium, the Brussels Mary chocolateries include Mary – Galarie de la Reine, Mary – Grand Place, Mary – Lombard, Mary – Royal and Mary – Toison d’Or. Walk your way around them all and the calories won’t stay on too long, whilst you snarf down a delicious day of chocky history!
73 Royalstreet, 1000 Brussels
If you’ve toured Brussels but have surprisingly forgotten to buy your friends and family chocky box gifts, then fear not! Close to Central Station on Rue du Marché Aux, is the Chocopolis chocolate factory, opened in 2006. Don’t be put off if you see a large, scary elephant statue outside! Walk right in to this chic little palace of taste bud tantalisation, put your credit card into the card slot and treat all your loved ones to a box each of handmade delights.
This can easily be done with the Chocopolis promo bundles of Artisanal chocolates, or a few limited-edition wooden casks of tasty treats. Yes, it’s a bit pricey but it will keep you in favour (and flavour) for a century! You might have to miss your train to stay awhile here!
Rue du Marche aux Herbes 110, 1000 Brussels