I make no bones about it – I love chocolate & last night sat with a glass of wine & my latest purchase from the wonderful ‘Chocolatier’ La Cour aux Saveurs in L’Isle Sur La Sorgue. http://www.lacourauxsaveurs.fr/
Back in February I was staying there (in the town that is, not the chocolate shop) whilst house hunting & one afternoon wandered into the small shop that sits in a side street in the rabbit-warren of lanes that is the old town.
I had been past the shop many times, but hadn’t been in – in hindsight that had been a big mistake!
I’ve always loved the images Joanne Harris created in her novel ‘Chocolat’ where the chocolatier, Vianne knows which chocolate is going to be ‘the one’ for each customer. The detail of the smell and the whole ambiance of the shop where…..
‘The air is hot and rich with the scent of chocolate. Quite unlike the white powdery chocolate that I knew as a boy, this has a throaty richness like the perfumed beans from the coffee stall on the market, a redolence of amaretto and tiramisu, a smoky burnted flavour that enters my mouth somehow and makes it water.’ Joanne Harris – Chocolat
…….. and after visiting many chocolate shops over the years (all in the interests of research of course) La Cour Aux Saveurs is the closest I’ve come to finding it!
The first thing that hits you when you walk in is the smell – it (understandably) smells of chocolate -not the nasty artificial scent that is sometimes pumped out in shops, but a rich intoxicating smell, so thick that you can almost taste it.
The shop itself is run by a lovely couple – Monsieur ‘le chocolatier’, Florian Courreau, who I have always seen dressed impeccably in whites. He is inevitably hard at work in in the pristine, gleaming kitchen (or perhaps chocolate workshop), which is on open view from the busy little shop area, which is managed by his wife.
The shop has everything a chocolate-lover could want, from a variety of chocolate pyramids….
and huge slabs of milk & dark chocolate studded with nuts and fruit, which have been broken into more easily manageable ‘shards’…..
to beautifully made glossy individual chocolates, each infused with a different flavour.
Of course there are other things to tempt anyone with a sweet tooth, including the fruit ‘cheeses’ that are a local speciality, but for me it’s all about the chocolate.
The little individual chocolates cost 8€ for 100g (about 12 chocolates) and it’s nice to take some time working your way along the shelves that are packed with small piles of gleaming squares, deciding which flavours to pop into the bag.
The nice thing is that you’re never rushed and the lady in the shop is always happy to explain each flavour – from Caramel (fleur du sel) to Lavender and some more unusual ones too! There are always tasters available to help you make your decision or to encourage you to try something a little bit different.
When you leave you’re given instructions on how to keep them at their best – they will last for 3 weeks (I must admit they’ve never lasted long enough for me to test this out!) and most importantly never put them in the fridge.
One thing is for certain – it is always money well-spent. Each chocolate is worth savouring, the initial resistance of the outer shell, followed by the rich, flavoured ganache or other centre (mint being one of my favourites!) How I could go on!!
Whereas some chocolates just easily pop into the mouth one after another – I can happily just eat a couple of these in an evening – in fact I suppose if I try hard enough I can even convince myself that buying these is a ‘healthier and ultimately cheaper option!’
So if you find yourself in L’Isle sur la Sorgue & after a day around the market or a few hours Antique hunting & you fancy a sweet treat then I can recommend just sneaking off down a side-street & spending a few minutes buying some chocolate – if you’re lucky no one will know you’ve bought them & you won’t have to share!!