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Michel Chaudun is one of the storied chocolatiers in Paris. Chocolate-lovers in the know tend to speak of Chaudun with a bit of reverence. They contentedly list the classically delicious chocolates sold in the sweet little shop tucked in a quietly residential corner of Paris’ comfortable 7th arrondissement, just off the Seine, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and not far from the myriad gastronomic delights of the rue Cler and rue St. Dominque.
Chaudun, who originally trained in patisserie within the renowned La Maison de Chocolate, has been crafting his own chocolates for nearly three decades for a devoted clientele of aficionados from near and far. He sources his fine chocolate from the best-of-the-best around the chocolate-producing world. There is indeed an enviable selection of classic dark chocolate ganaches filled with almond paste, honey, chocolate, raspberry, coffee and other intensely pure flavors. And the chocolate Pavés are simply exquisite confections of cream and chocolate perfection… so fresh and fragile they cannot remain at room temperature for more than four hours.
And there is much more. Chaudun has fun with his métier. He is, as the charming responsable running the shop told me, an artist. He is indeed: he sculpted the abundant displays sport chocolate jewelry boxes gilded with edible gold leaf, chocolate animals, “Hermes” braided chocolate-leather bags, tiny soccer balls, and even grimacing architecturally correct dark-chocolate gargoyles. For quieter moments, one can also purchase powdered chocolate for making decadent hot chocolate as well as lovely classic porcelain chocolate pots and cups.
For the culinarily obsessed, there are witty chocolate saucisses looking for all the world like the dry sausages omnipresent in the Paris marché volants and charcuteries. Now that would be an entertaining dessert to serve to guests who thought they were well beyond the appetizer course!
Despite his obvious mastery of the chocolate métier, Monsieur Chaudun is a quiet artisan. He eschews major shows like the Salon du Chocolat, preferring to work with his two apprentices in the tiny fabrication room adjacent to the shop to fill his store with delights for his customers. At present, Chaudun is training young Korean and Japanese chocolatiers, both women. He also paints as an avocation and selected examples of his work hang in the shop.
Like other master Parisian chocolatiers, Chaudun shares a love for Japanese art and culture and has located his only other shop outside Paris in Tokyo. Chaudun’s chocolates are made in Japan for the Tokyo shop rather than shipped in from Paris. He visits for several weeks a year to help prep chocolates for major Japanese holidays such as Valentines Day, where chocolate is central to the celebration. Why not a shop in New York or London I asked? It seems that the Japanese share a certain affinity for design, elegance and perfection with the French. It is, interestingly, an answer I have gotten from other chocolatiers who also have their shops in Tokyo or other Japanese cities.
The rue de l’Universite shop is quintessentially Paris. During my short visit the clientele included an elegantly dressed older woman assisted by a home care aide who came in to painstakingly select two chocolates for her dessert that day. She is apparently a daily visitor and was accorded all the grace and respect as for a client buying a substantial order. Then a somewhat boisterous English family came in with three young children who were highly amused by the gargoyles and other fanciful creations. The father told me that they had read about Chaudun and had trekked across Paris to find the shop. Armed with a selection of chocolates, small dark-chocolate Eiffel Towers for the kids, and other chocolate gifts, the family happily moved on to their next great Paris attraction.
A visit to Michal Chaudun’s shop should be high on the list of chocolate lovers visiting Paris. Whether it is two perfect bon-bons, a purse, or even a chocolate saucisse this shop will satisfy one’s chocolate cravings with inimitable style.
Tél: 01 47 53 74 40
149, rue de l’Universite, (corner rue Malar) Paris 7th
Open: 9:30am-7:30pm Monday through Saturday; closed Sundays.
Sally Peabody is writes about Paris, coaches and advises independent travelers and leads small-scale culinary and Tea..Chocolate..Paris tours. Please click on her name to read her complete profile and past stories published by BonjourParis.
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