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The 16th of April marks Easter Sunday, and if you’re anything like us, you’re planning on indulging in just a little (or a lot of) delicious chocolate to celebrate. However, the obsession with chocolate needn’t end in April. To satisfy your appetite, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of destinations for those with a sweet tooth.
We could hardly talk about chocolate without mentioning Belgium, widely known as the “Chocolate Capital of the World”. The sweet stuff is an integral part of the country’s economy, and they take it very seriously. As well as the more well-known brands such as Godiva, the streets are lined with independent and family producers just waiting to tempt your taste-buds.
In the medieval town of Bruges, make sure to check out the Katelijnestraat, where you’ll find a cluster of chocolatiers. Particular highlights in the city include Dumon (where the original Madame Dumon still drops by to assure the highest quality of chocolate) and the wild and wonderful creations at The Chocolate Line – fancy sampling some saffron curry flavour varieties?
Visit Belgium in March for a true chocolate-lover’s dream – the Chocolate Festival of Mons. Demonstrations, samples and interactive presentations allow you to learn more about and try some of Europe’s finest chocolate for yourself.
This Spanish city might first conjure images of seafood paella and sangria, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find a serious passion for chocolate running through its streets. The first chocolate machine was created here back in 1780, and it’s also home to the Museu de la Xocolata, a renowned chocolate museum. Pay a visit to follow the fascinating history of chocolate from its origins as a spicy drink for the Mayans, to its current status as one of the world’s favourite and most popular sweet treats. You’ll also have the chance to participate in a range of chocolate-making workshops.
During your stay in the city, you can’t miss traditional churros served with a deliciously rich hot chocolate sauce. If you find yourself on Las Ramblas, duck into Fargas – it’s the city’s oldest chocolate shop at almost 200 years old. It even still has the old bean grinding wheel.
Sun, sea, sand…and chocolate? Believe it or not, cocoa is beloved to this Caribbean island, which is home to a number of plantations and even chocolate-themed resorts. Start your sweet experience by checking out the Rabot Plantation – it’s owned by British company Hotel Chocolat and produces its own distinctive fairtrade chocolate.
Next, head to the Boucan restaurant, also owned by Hotel Chocolat, for a “tree-to-bar” experience. You’ll visit the estate’s growing groves before picking your own pod. You’ll then roast your own beans and create delicious bars and truffles. They taste even better when you make them yourself!
As one of the world’s most decadent and gourmet locations, it’s perhaps no surprise that Paris is near the top of the chocolate stakes. In fact, there are over 300 dedicated chocolate shops listed here. It’s a love affair that’s been burning for many centuries – the delicacy was first introduced to France in 1615, when the wife-to-be of King Louis XIII, Anne of Austria, introduced it in drink form to the French court. The first chocolate shop was opened in Paris in 1659.
The city also hosts the taste bud tantalising World Chocolate Masters, which is dedicated to celebrating the creativity of chocolatiers from all over the world. The French specialty is dark chocolate, which, as it doesn’t have as much added sugar or milk as regular varieties, is arguably healthier. All the more reason to bring some home in your suitcase…
Finally, you can’t have a chocolate-lovers travel guide without mentioning the nation where it was first created. More chocolate is consumed in Switzerland than anywhere else in the world, and it’s home to many of the world’s most beloved producers, such as Lindt and Treuscher (visit this quaint old chocolate shop to try the iconic champagne truffles). Check out the Lindt & Sprungli factory in Zurich to learn all about the company’s history (and to enjoy a multitude of free samples, of course).
You can also board the vintage Swiss Chocolate Train which runs from Montreaux to Broc, ending in the Cailler-Nestle factory. If you need a little bit of savoury to balance out all of that chocolate, you’re in luck – the train stops in Gruyere, home of the famous creamy cheese.
Of course, you won't be able to visit land-locked Switzerland by cruise ship, but a chocolate-lover could certainly consider extending their holiday with a trip to Switzerland before or after their European cruise.
To embark on your delicious chocolate journey this Easter, find out more about our European and Caribbean cruises.
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