Waida: Best Chocolates in the World!!
I have been on a quest to find the most delicious chocolates in the world. One year, I told my wife "This year, instead of giving you chocolates for Valentine's Day, I'm going to take you where they make them!" We went to Belgium. We toured a chocolate museum, and ate many brands of chocolate. All the usual, Godiva, Nuehaus, and etc., then there were small chocolatiers. We tried as many of them as time would allow in 4 days. A year or so later, we went to Barcelona, Spain. I am certain that the chocolates that we had in Spain at one particular establishment was better than anything that we had tasted previously. The hedgehogs at the market on Grandville Island in Vancouver, Canada are truly not to be missed. We tried some chocolates that were made in Italy. They were in the top two or three of the world's best chocolates. But the number one chocolates in the world are made in Reims, France. Waida at 5 Place Drouet d'Erlon, Reims, France. The one to get is large and lumpy looking. It has hazelnuts, pistachios, and magic dipped in milk chocolate. And as is the case with all fine European chocolates, they will not last on the shelf so you must eat them when you buy them...
What to buy: Chocolates are what I wanted to write about in this review... But when shopping in Reims you MUST have champagne!! There are too many to describe all of the ones that we liked in Reims but some of the must see and taste houses are: Piper-Heidsieck, Veuve ClicQout, Pommery, Taittinger, and this is just a few of the best in Reims!!
What to pay: For the chocolates 5.00 USD. You will buy them individually, they are larger than a ping pong ball.
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DELEANS, MAîTRE ARTISAN, CHOCOLATIER: AND I DON'T LIKE CHOCOLATE.........
This CHOCOLATIER really is an artisan......
You won't believe your eyes and immediately you're there your mouth will start watering...
Since 1874 they are working here in REIMS and everything will surprise you: the shop, the proud owners, the assortment......
Let me tell you a bit about what they (VINCENT & FRANCESCA) have on offer:
CHAMPAGNE: extremely large chocolates (noir ou lait) cork-shaped filled with 25 smaller "corks", all very delicious of course.
This BOUCHON is a very nice gift!
Their GRANDE SPéCIALITé "Marque déposée" is NéLUSKO.
Cherries IN COGNAC, that have been having a special treatment during 2 years after which time the stone is removed and the cherries are covered with the finest chocolate: an exquise cherry liqueur chocolate.......
Vincent & Francesca make your eyes enjoy at the same time as your taste: the shop is wonderfully tastefully furnished......
They sell super quality chocolates for very special moments, never to forget!
YOU WILL SEE......: SHOPPING TIPS.......
REIMS city centre is home to over 400 shops and is the largest shopping centre in the region (there also is a LAFAYETTE, like e.g. in PARIS !)
Major national and international chains, convenience stores, luxury boutiques, regional specialities.......shoppers have plenty to choose from: there are shops for all tastes: let me not forget to mentions the CHOCOLATIERS & BAKERIES......
There are plenty of streets (pedestrians only) to stroll through......from the PROMENADES to the Park Patte d'Oie and around that sweet CATHEDRAL.......
The ART DéCO style and the rich architecture that emerged from the city's reconstruction (after being destroyed during the world wars) give the whole downtown area a noble, majestic character.
There are many olf covered passages and modern shopping arcades so (window)shopping is possible in all weather.
The Place Drouet d'Erlon is a very spacious pedestrians only area and a favourite meeting place......
It has an impressive array of bars & restaurants with huge terraces and e.g. also 2 multiplex cinemas.
The shopping district & the Old Town are right next door.....what more could you wish for?
And this bottle of CHAMPAGNE??
It is a BESSERAT DE BELLEFON, the best of the best.
GALERIES LAFAYETTE: THIS CAN'T BE MISSED.....
On top of the picture are the words: Oh, I always feel like going to Galeries Lafayette....and I can understand.
It is a large, elegant department store where is it great to spend (quite) some time.......
Many interesting, special and attractive article that you will certainly want to purchase!
And do so: a souvenir de France is a souvenir for life.....well, not if it is CHAMPAGNE or CHOCOLATE.......
FOSSIER....: MAISON MERE DES BISCUITS DE REIMS....
This MAISON was founded in.....1756, imagine that!
They are specialised in regional products such as : BISCUITS ROSES, CROQUIGNOLES, BOUCHON au MARC......and much more.
I mention these mysterious names here just to make you curious and wanting to go there!!
They are also prepared to compose special gifts to order.
Visitors / clients can visit the manufactory i.e. when you are in a group and have made reservations beforehand.
In the SHOP (address down below) you can taste their products for free........always fun!
I am sure that this picture and my words here will make it impossible for you NOT to go there and purchase some nice gifts.......
various: Champagne, bien sûr...
It is hard to avoid Champagne in Reims, being the centre of the industry. Nearly every corner has a shop that sells the bubbly drink, so it is the most appropriate souvenir or gift to bring back home...
Rue de Vesle: Main shopping street in Reims
What was the decumanus maximus of Durocortorum (i.e., the east-west axis of Roman Reims) has survived to this day as rue de Vesle. It cuts through the city from the west, but before reaching place Royale, it becomes rue Carnot (beyond that, rue Cérès and avenue Jean-Jaurès continue the path of the decumanus maximus). Rue de Vesle is one of the busiest and most important shopping streets in Reims, as it contains departments stores, banks and everything a shopper would need. Among the important establishments on this street are les Galeries Lafayette, France's prime department store. Also along the street are some of the city's most beautiful Belle Epoque buildings, including the opera house, while a tramway runs through it.
Covered Arcades in Reims: Covered arcades are pretty . . . and useful
I always buy a couple nice scarves at a favorite shop in Strasbourg. Unfortunately, we arrived in Strasbourg on Sunday and the shop was closed. Time for Plan B . . .
Reims was the last city on our mostly rural vacation in France so I determined the scarves would be bought in Reims or not at all. As we walked from the Cathedral back to our hotel, I noticed a shopping arcade with a beautiful glass ceiling. A perfect opportunity!
I am not a shopper but was impressed at the number of different shops and the number of arcades. You leave one to enter another. Great for a rainy day!
I checked several stores to no avail and then spotted a small boutique for accessories. We entered to be greeted by three salespeople. They were all helpful and I finally found two scarves, one taken from a window display. I love them and they're great souvenirs of our trip.
What to buy: You can buy almost anything in the arcades . . . except possibly tourist-type souvenirs. It is set up for local shopping needs and we didn't see any souvenir shops. If you are looking for souvenirs, you may want to check small shops near the cathedral downtown.
What to pay: All price categories covered here. It's kind of like a 19th century shopping mall.
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Fossier: Biscuits de Reims
For those who don't drink champagne (or want to bring something else), what foodie souvenirs to bring from Reims ?
Answer : bicuits; the most traditional ones are the 'biscuits roses' (pink biscuits) - also called 'biscuits de Reims' - light puffy concoctions (traditionally served with champagne but also the ideal base for charlottes - see Fossier's website for some receipes).
Other typical Reims specialities are croquignoles and bouchons.
The biggest and oldest local specialist is Fossier.
What to buy: Biscuits roses
Bouchons if you like alcohol filled chocolates.
What to pay: between 3.50 and 4€ for 175/200grs of biscuits/croquignoles (you will pay a bit more if you buy from a souvenir store than from Fossier - those specialities are sold in the champagne stores too).
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Here you'll find mustard spiked with Champagne (in smooth or grainy versions) and Champagne vinegar which is cask aged for at least four years. These two remarkable condiments are a nice way to take a piece of your trip home with you.
What to buy: Mustard, Vinegar
The pink biscuit is, with champagne, one of the gourmet emblems of Reims ever since in the 17th century a local baker had the idea of cooking his biscuits twice, taking advantage of the heat in the bread oven after the last batch of loaves. The recipe has barely changed - sugar, finest wheat flower, eggs, starch with added egg whites, vanilla-flavoured essence and a pinch of the colorant that give the famous pink colour - ever since famous gourmets such as King Leopold II of Belgium, the Tsar of Russia, Marquise de Polignac and Victor Hugo commended them. Twice longer than wide, these pink biscuits with a unique texture can absorb their volume of liquid, while giving off their typical aroma. They are eaten after dipping in champagne, ratafia, port, or banyuls. Reims locals dip them in neat champagne. A visit to the chic Fossier boutique in the town centre, which is of course candy-pink, should also be combined with a trip to the factory outlet where discounted prices can be had on all unpackaged biscuits.
What to buy: Buiscuits, what else!
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Between Place Royale and Place Aristide-Briand, the sweetshop Deléans is installed in a decor of century-old wood panelling and mouldings. All the produce by Vincent Frodefond, a master craft chocolate maker, is homemade, including the chocolate moulds. Apart from the truffles with old champagne grape marc spirit and the many varieties of old-fashioned caramels, you should try the péché du diable, a ganache with blood orange pulp pepped up with a discreet dash of ginger.
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Festival d'Noelle: Fun art combinations
Have to share the fun art that my friends bought and the creations that we made with them. Bonnie and Keith bought this funny little Rooster which we combined with our lunchtime beverage to make "Chicken 'n Beer". Brian and Jeroen bought the cute donkies and since we were in Champagne.....well, it was only natural to create "Donkies and Champagne".
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the galeries lafayette: turn-of-the-century felling in department store
the architecture is interesting as well as the stuff they sell.
The shop was buiilt into an old warehouse and it has kept items of the former function.
What to buy: their own clothes lines Avantpremiere for young girls and Briefing for women.
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Village de Noel
If you're in Reims during the Christmas Shopping season, be sure to check out the Village de Noel. Outdoor stalls feature local crafts and food. We enjoyed browsing almost all the stalls and sampling the food.
What to buy: Crafts, jewelry, ornaments, art, snacks, sweets and of course Cheese!
What to pay: Depends on how badly the dollar's doing...
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