The world has been blessed by Chocolates since around 1100 BC ,when it was first cultivated by the Meso-americans. Here are the top 10 travel destinations for chocoholics- there are no better places on earth to sample some of the best chocolates in the world:
The chocolate capital of Germany, Cologne is the home of the Stollwerck chocolate company, which during its prime years was the second largest supplier of chocolate to the United States. On the 150th anniversary of the company, a museum exhibition was created to celebrate their history. Since then, the exhibition has grown into an entire museum. The Imhoff Stollwerck museum also known locally as the chocolate museum celebrates the history of chocolate around the world and has interactive exhibits, samples and a giant chocolate fountain.
Tain L’Hermitage, France
A small town in the heart of wine country, and only a short drive away from Lyon, Tain L’Hermitage is home to the world-renowned chocolate producer, Valrhona. A great stop is the Valrhona Ecole du Grand Chocolat, a school that teaches professional chefs, chocolatiers, and caterers. They even host a three-day course that teaches amateurs how to make decadent desserts.
Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
Dubbed “the Sweetest Place on Earth,” the town (originally called Derry Church) was renamed Hershey in 1906 due to the popularity of Hershey chocolates. The town is home to both The Hershey Company and the H. B. Reese Candy Company. “Chocolatetown, USA” has branded itself as an American chocolate center and some popular chocolatey attractions include Hershey’s Chocolate World, The Hershey Story Museum and the Chocolate Spa.
Likewise most travelers in New York City, the chocolatiers here have come from all corners of the world, and have brought along with them their recipes for delicious chocolate treats. Besides all of the magnificent chocolate shops in the city, visitors can take a chocolate tour with either the New Cuisine Chocolate Tour or the Luxury Chocolate Tour, where you can learn a lot about the history of the shops you visit and sample some of their mind blowing chocolates.
Often called “Chocolate City,” Villajoyosa’s chocolate history began early in the 18th century when the city began to import cocoa beans from Venezuela and Ecuador. Till today, chocolate production is still booming. The town is home to Spain’s oldest gourmet chocolate producer, Valor, which was founded in 1881. Villajoyosa also boasts of an excellent chocolate museum that not only showcases the history of Villajoyosa’s chocolate production but also gives you an idea about how local favorites are made.
San Francisco, California
The Bay Area is home to one of the oldest chocolate manufacturers in the United States, making it a must-stop destination for many chocolate lovers. While in New York, chocolate tours are a great way to take in San Francisco’s best chocolate shops. You can also take a step back in history wandering through Ghirardelli Square, which was originally built as an expansion of the old Ghirardelli chocolate factory.
The ancient Mesoamericans were one of the world’s first chocolatiers and Mexico has continued to produce chocolate ever since. Nowadays, in Oaxaca, residents have embraced chocolate as a part and parcel of their culture and it seems visitors to the city can’t take a walk down the street without being offered chocolate in one form or another, whether it is hot chocolate, chocolate pastry or chocolate candy. While there are major chocolate producers based here, a lot of Oaxaca’s chocolate is made with old family recipes the old-fashioned way, ground either by hand or with electric grinders and mixed by hand.
The Spanish were one of the first Europeans to experience chocolate that was brought back from the New World, and Barcelona has been a center for chocolate lovers ever since. Among its chocolate-covered achievements, the city can boast that the first chocolate making machine was built here in 1780. Today Barcelona celebrates its rich chocolate heritage with a museum dedicated to chocolate, the Museo de La Xocolata, which features everything from chocolate sculptures to hot chocolate.
Switzerland consumes more chocolate per person than any other country in the world, and with the world-renowned companies like Cailler-Nestle, Toblerone, Lindt, Treuscher and Sprungli calling it their home, it’s no wonder. Zurich is the heart of chocolate production in the country and Lindt, Treuscher and Sprungli all have factories and stores in the city. For a truly unique choco-experience, the Swiss Travel System, along with Cailler-Nestle, offers a dream ride on “The Swiss Chocolate Train.” The train departs from Montreux and makes a stop in Gruyeres (where Gruyere cheese is made) before finally arriving in Broc where guests get a tour of the Cailler-Nestle factory.
The entire country of Belgium is a chocoholic’s paradise, boasting 12 chocolate factories, 16 chocolate museums and more than 2,100 chocolate shops. Brussels, however, stands above the rest. The city is home to two of the biggest chocolate companies in the world, Godiva and Leonidas, as well as many smaller chocolate boutiques. While all kinds of chocolate treats can be found in Brussels, pralines are king. In fact, they were first created there by Jean Neuhaus in 1912. If you visit Brussels, make sure you go to the Musee du Cocao et du Chocolate where you can learn how chocolate is made.