I stopped going to Paris to see landmarks many years ago. There is no doubt I love them, but I have seen them many times and now they are more of a comfort to me than anything else. When I visit Paris now, I see friends and get lost in countless fascinating conversations about life, art, love—and then one other thing—hot chocolate, or chocolate chaud, as they call it in France.
I have been conducting a grand experiment over the years to find the best hot chocolate in the world. It's a tricky subject. What makes it the best? Is it the ingredients? Or is it something more? I have had many cocoa experiences, each one as important as the next.
While in Paris, I can think of two magnificent days that included chocolate chaud. The first of course is a day I spent at Angelina's. I had to start here because it is famous for this one exceptional thing. And indeed, it is like sitting in a French painting filled with pastries. The moment you walk through the front door, the sweet scent of sugar is in the air. The last time I paid a visit, I had escaped from a dramatic rainstorm, and the warm lighting was like a beacon of safety and warmth. I was alone that day. I was promptly seated near a window where I could see people dashing out of the storm while I sipped on something warm.
The cocoa at Angelina's is so thick and rich that you would never think to ask for more. It's the most wonderful place to daydream or meet a friend for an afternoon treat.
One evening I had the opportunity to introduce a friend to Montmartre around the holidays. We were planning an event and needed to do a site inspection (tough job). The square was filled with lights, artists and so many quaint windows to peer inside. A Christmas market was especially delightful. Sacre Coeur was magnificent in the light. We grabbed a simple cup of hot milk from an outdoor vendor. The chocolate was on a spoon so we just stirred the chocolate into the milk as we explored this amazing part of the world. We spent the evening dreaming about what we could do for our event while holding a warm cup of cocoa in our hands.
Sometimes it's the view and the conversation that makes the best hot chocolate in the world.
One of the best Paris hot chocolate guides I have read is David Lebovitz’s blog. As far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as bad hot chocolate—even if it is watered down, as long as you are with good company, or witnessing a wonderful view, or escaping from a storm.
P.S. If you can't get to Paris for a while, but are craving hot chocolate, I found a really delicious solution—hot chocolate on a spoon! I am not saying it is as good as being in Paris, but it sure reminds me of a night I once had at Montmartre. CAREBOX.com.