A La Duchesse Anne
Call me old-fashioned but part of the pleasure of sipping a hot chocolate in Paris is savoring the cozy setting of a real ‘salon du the’, not the latest trendy chocolate bars. Sorry, but being served a sterile glass of hot chocolate by a server (or even the chocolatier himself) in a white lab coat makes me feel like I’m in the waiting room of a doctor’s office – being handed the famous little glass.
That’s why I am delighted to share with you the good news that “A La Duchesse Anne” at 5 Place du 18 Juin, Metro: Montparnasse is celebrating its 50th year in business. And a cup of hot chocolate made with the house chocolate can be had for all of 2.90 Euros.
Not only can you enjoy a cup of coffee or tea at your leisure, but also a crepe or a salad if your hunger pains hit you between the normal lunch and dinner hours (that no man’s land between 3 pm and 7pm).
The proprietor Therese Potteau tells me that the shop opened on this very spot in 1958 and she has carried on the tradition – which hopefully will be passed down to her son – and also hopefully without changing a single thing. (Mme Potteau is certainly la plus belle femme de Montparnasse – but she firmly declined having her photo taken!), donc, the most beautiful and most modest!.
If you’ve been following the chocolate bar trend in Paris, two spots which have been receiving attention are the Mauboussin chocolate bar at 66 Champs Elysee and Peter Beier’s chocolate bar on Monsier Le Prince. Expect to spend 15 Euros for a pot of hot chocolate at Mauboussin (which is also a top jeweler). Peter Beier’s basic hot chocolate (served in a glass by a server in a white lab coat) will set you back a minimum of 6 Euros.
A new chocolate bar has also opened up on Rue Daguerre which I haven’t tried out yet. However, I do have to mention something here about the experience at Peter Beier Chokolade at 62 Rue Monsieur Le Prince. I’ve read other reviews and the upstairs chocolate bar area has been described as very comfortable with big sofas. It had better be comfortable while you wait to be served (we were there for quite a while before being served (although in all fairness this was the day before Easter weekend – probably the biggest rush for chocolate purchases in the entire year). Okay, understood, but the little corner on the second floor where the hot chocolate is blended is hidden by a screen, and peeking round the screen – it was none too tidy. Yes, the hot chocolate is good – for 6,50 and higher- Euros, should it be anything but? Yes. The 70% dark chocolate is a powerhouse. You really do need to add sugar for this hot chocolate and the serving size at Peter Beier’s is more than ample. I would have gladly come back for a second time if the decor had been different.
However, when accompanied by the sound of staff members shouting at one another in Danish the experience was anything but relaxing or pleasant. Sorry to be critical this time, but I have to be honest about our visit. Go on any other day except the day before Easter weekend and you’ll probably receive a warm and attentive reception.
Meanwhile, I ‘ll stick to the old-fashioned time honored ‘Salon du the’ and leave the chocolate trend for those visitors to France who have plenty of cash to burn and feel more comfortable in minimalist surroundings. More reviews of chocolate bars in future posts. Dissenting chocolate connoisseurs are invited to comment! If you have trouble getting through the spam filter, be sure to e-mail me and I’ll post your comment.
A La Duchesse Anne
5 Place du 18 Juin
Peter Beier Chokolade
62, Rue Monsieur Le Prince
66 Blvd. des Champs Elysees