Last Updated on November 22, 2023
When I recently discovered Chocolat Chapon on a quiet street in Paris’ Saint-Germain district, I was immediately struck by how quaint and traditional it felt.
In stark contrast to the nearby Patrick Roger, with its shiny counters in dark colors, low light and sparse interiors– elements frankly more befitting of a luxury jewellery boutique than a chocolate shop– walking into Chapon felt like stepping back into a warm, unpretentious sweets shop of a past era, with few “luxe” design codes in sight.
Chapon’s old-timey, nostalgic aesthetic may suggest that it’s been around for decades– but that’s a clever marketing trick. Chapon and its chocolaterie (chocolate manufacturing arm) first opened its doors in the Parisian region in the late 1980s, after Patrice Chapon, former ice-cream maker for Buckingham Palace, decided to venture into making his own chocolates.
He established an atelier in Chelles, a Paris suburb, and began roasting and processing beans painstakingly sourced from around the world. Now, his bean-to-bar techniques have made him (and his brand) one of the most-coveted among serious chocolate enthusiasts. This despite his somewhat “twee” brand image.
While the willfully throwback “stage dressings” that adorn Chapon’s three Paris-based boutiques may seem a bit inauthentic, the company’s techniques seemingly attest to how serious it is about the quality of the finished products.
This is (to my knowledge) the only French artisanal chocolate maker to refrain from using soy lecithin or cocoa butter in its recipes, all in a bid to make the intensity and purity of the chocolat come through.
In 2023, the company was bought by a group called FrenchFood Capital, which could mean expansion for the brand is on the horizon. But before it shows up closer to you, here’s why to visit Chapon on your next trip to Paris.
Exploring the Boutique: Main Products (and Seasonal Treats)
At the small boutique at Saint-Sulpice, you can sample a wide selection of chocolates, from single-origin bars to truffles generously dusted with cocoa, pralines, bouchées (large, filled hunks of chocolate that are intensely rich), and a range of signature chocolate mousses. You can buy as few as one or two chocolates to take away in a bag and devour wherever you wish, or go for a giftbox.
For Christmas and the winter holiday season, Chapon offers seasonal delights including chocolate advent calendars, molded treats (Santa Claus, Christmas trees, etc.)
For Easter, you can expect chocolate eggs with sugar shells painted in muted vintage colors, larger molded eggs or chickens in milk, white or dark chocolate, and other limited-edition items.
On my last visit (around Easter), I came away with two purchases. First, a milk-chocolate, nutty rocher filled with creamy praline and dipped in crushed hazelnut bits.
This was, needless to say, much more satisfying and rich than the commercial versions made by Ferrero-Rocher. It was so rich that I had to share it with my partner to even finish it– which is saying something, given my historic love of rochers.
I also bought a bag of small easter eggs in dark chocolate and praline. These made a perfect accompaniment to coffee the next morning (and a couple after that)– and would have been ideal as an inexpensive gift.
The Chocolate Bar-Tasting Station
One of the most enjoyable parts of my visit to the shop was tasting bits of single-origin and rare varieties of chocolate at a dedicated station, which was equipped with a chart allowing tasters to better understand subtle differences in flavor– from floral to spicy and fruity– between various bars.
Chapon sources cocoa beans from growers as far and wide as Venezuela, Tanzania, India, Madagascar, Costa Rica and Vietnam. One thing I haven’t yet been able to verify is whether any of these producers work under the auspice of fair-trade or sustainability charters. This is something that I’ll soon look into.
From dark bars at cocoa concentrations of up to 90 or even 100% (most or all vegan, by the way), to milk chocolate bars with Piedmont hazelnuts or chocolate laced with Earl Grey and Rooibus teas, there’s a wide selection of bars to choose from. They’re so easy to take back in a suitcase or backpack, too…
The Mousse au Chocolat Bar
The boutique on Rue Saint-Sulpice (as well as other locations in Paris`) also feature the brand’s legendary Mousse au Chocolat bar, featuring several different varieties of mousses made in-house, and featuring different single-origin chocolates from various geographical regions.
I haven’t tried the bar yet, but will certainly make a point of doing so on my next visit. According to French gastronomes, one of the things that makes Chapon’s mousses special is that they’re made with three simple ingredients: organic eggs, cane sugar and cocoa pulp extracted from single-origin beans. There’s also a vegan mousse on offer in at least one of the boutiques, from what I’ve read.
They also exclude preservatives or other additives, such as vanilla, which (chocolate-mousse purists might say) distorts the clarity and intensity of the cocoa notes.
Chocolaterie Chapon: Location & Contact Details
The shop I visited was nestled in the St-Germain district, but Chapon actually has three boutiques in Paris: one in the 6th arrondissement, one in the 7th near Rue du Bac, and another in the 16th arrondissement, in the city’s far-west.
- Saint-Germain location: 34, rue de Saint Sulpice, 75006
- Metro: Saint-Sulpice or Mabillon
- Tel: +33 (1)42395792
- Visit the official website
Explore More on Gourmet Paris
If your sweet tooth hasn’t yet been sated, check out a few of our other features on gourmet tasting and treats in Paris: start with a whirl through some of the best patisseries and bakeries in the city, and follow up with this feature on traditional confiseries (candy shops) in Paris, complete with a bit of history.
Read my interview with another French chocolate maestro, the aforementioned Patrick Roger, and learn why his iconoclastic approach to chocolate has made him legendary.
Like This? Pin & Share
Courtney Traub is the Founder and Editor of Paris Unlocked. She’s a longtime Paris resident who now divides her time (as well as she can manage) between the French capital and Norwich, UK. Co-author of the 2012 Michelin Green Guide to Northern France & the Paris Region, she has written and reported stories for media outlets including Radio France Internationale, Reed Business Information, WWD, and The Associated Press. She has also been interviewed as an expert on Paris and France by the BBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Le Figaro, Matador Network and other publications. In addition to pursuing an insatiable interest in French culture, history, food and art, Courtney is a scholar of literature and cultural history whose essays and reviews have appeared in various forums.