Around the Manneken Pis there's a lively chocolate business. Several shops rival, displaying the most inviting chocolate candies, some of them with fruits. It's difficult to resist, and more difficult to choose the right shop.
Skip this area if you're in a diet!
What to buy Brussells is an excellent city for buying the famous Brussells lace, tapestries, souvenirs of the famous Mannekin Pis, and my favourite, chocolates (the Bouchees are absolutely addictive!)
One of the nicest things we enjoyed during our 2014 visit was that in the Centre of Brussells not far from the Grand Place, there are so many chocolate shops and you can pretty much sample a chocolate or two in each shop....leading to a slight case of chocolate overload for my boyfriend haha.
IT IS NOW 100 YEARS AGO THAT JEAN (II) NEUHAUS INVENTED THE PRALINE IN BRUSSELS.
Belgians use the word PRALINES for what is called "chocolates" by tourists. If outside the touristic centres you ask for chocolate you will get a bar of chocolate.
The production of pralines in Belgium is now in hands of a number of companies who have industrialized the process what does, fortunately, not mean that quality has diminished. These larger companies have oriented their production to the export making of the Belgian pralines a luxury export product of world wide fame. There are also a good number of artisanal workshops. Belgians consider that brands like Neuhaus, Godiva, Corné are the better ones at least among the big producers. Leonidas is lower in rank but also in price.
When a Belgian offers pralines, he will buy the better rated ones, but for his own use he might take the Leonidas because the difference in price is wider than the difference in quality. When offering pralines we usually buy a ballotin (box) of 500 or 750 gr. mixed (assortment). For our own use we select the types we like most. My favoured praline types, for example, are the "manons" especially the"manons sucrées" of Neuhaus. I prefer to stay with the traditional Belgian taste of the pralines so that a Marcolini is not on my list.
What is remarkable with Belgian pralines is the significant price increase as soon as they cross the Belgian border. Worst increase of price is when they are sold at luxury shops like Harrods in London. Multiplication by 2.5 of the Belgian price. I can understand that the poor Londoners buy Belgian pralines at Harrods by only one or two pieces at the time! Therefore, when you leave Belgium buy some kilos at the Brussels airport. There are good shops with a large variety of the best pralines.
A price idea: 40 - 50 €/kg
Are pralines good or bad for health? They are certainly good for the moral, they induce a euphoric feeling. Some addiction to pralines has been reported. I am one of these praline addicts.
“If you are not feeling well, if you have not slept, chocolate will revive you. But you have no chocolate! I think of that again and again! My dear, how will you ever manage?”
— Marquise de Sévigné (1626-1696)
We managed by enjoying chocolates every day.
The House of Wittamer was established in 1910 by Henri Wittamer on Place du Grand-Sablon. Today, Henri’s grandchildren continue his work. Wittamer supplies the Royal Court of Belgium and created the cake for the December 1999 wedding of Prince Philippe to Princess Mathilde. We bought chocolates from Wittmers; what is good enough for Belgian’s royal family is good enough for us.
What to buy All the chocolates in the place!
What to pay Whatever the price is pay it! The chocolates are a treat.
“Twill make Old Women Young and Fresh;
Create New Motions of the Flesh.
And cause them long for you know what,
If they but taste of chocolate.”
— from “A History of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate” by James Wadworth (1768-1844)
Pierre Marcolini won the World Chocolate Championship in 1995. Today, three exquisite chocolate shops in Brussels bear his name (Avenue Louise, 75 / 02 538 42 24; Rue des Minimes 1 / 02 514 12 06; and Rue des Minimes 1, Place du Grand Sablon / 32 2 514 1206). In addition, he has outlets in Paris, London, New York, Kuwait and Tokyo and many in Belgium.
It is said at the Brussels-born Mr. Marcolini produces the most expensive chocolates in the world. The pralines that Mr. Marcolini makes include ganaches flavored with exotic teas. This master chocolatier flavors his confections with fruit, such as apple, pear, black current and melon as well as ingredients such as pepper, chestnut, tonka beans and even patchouli, sandalwood and oak.
In addition to chocolates Mr. Marcolini creates a fine line of macaroons, on display at his store in Place du Grand Sablon (see photos).
What to buy Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!
What to pay It is a treat! Pay what is asked.
“Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted power…it is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits.”
— Justus, Baron von Liebig (1803-1873, German chemist)
PERFECTION Chocolate is the best friend of travelers, too. We enjoyed chocolates every day.
Established in 1919 by Madame Marie Delluc, Mary Chocolate has been located along Rue Royal since its founding. In 1942, under Léopold III, King of the Belgians, this chocolatier, housed in a delightful Rococo-decorated shop, was awarded a Royal Warrant (see photo #2) to supply Belgian’s royal family with chocolates.
What to buy Chocolates! Chocolates! Chocolates!
What to pay Whatever you pay, it will be well worth it.
“The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain.”
— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Le Chocolatier Manon, located at rue du Congrès, 24, specializes in handmade, hand-molded and hand-dipped chocolates. Each piece of chocolate is created as it were a jewel! Experts consider the chocolates sold by Manon the best in Belgium.
Le Chocolatier Manon has received First Prize at Fancy Food Shows in New York, 1982 and 1993; in Chicago, 1988; in Atlanta, 1989 and in Brussels, 1995.
It is possible to tour the factory of le chocolatier Manon at Jette, Brussels.
What to buy Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!
What to pay The chocolates are well worth the prices charged.
This year is the centennial of Belgian chocolates beginning to be regarded as among the finest chocolates in the world.
Belgium produces a dreamy 220,000 tonnes of chocolate per year. Its unmatched reputation for sublime chocolate derives from the silky smooth texture created by extended conching (stirring) during the production process, and from the use of pure cocoa butter. The turning point for Belgian chocolate came in 1912, when pralines (filled chocolates) were born in Brussels. On that city’s magnificent Grand Place, La Maison des Maîtres Chocolatiers Belges unites 10 of the country’s choco-craftsmen in an upmarket boutique that also offers demonstrations in English (and the all-important taste-tests) at 4pm Saturday and Sunday.
Also stop by a Pierre Marcolini store. His innovative chocolate creations are a top choice for Belgium’s wealthy and fashion conscious.
What to pay Too much
A manufacturer of premium chocolate GODIVA CHOCOLATIER was founded in Belgium in 1926 by Joseph Draps, who opened his first boutique in the Grand Place in Brussels. Godiva also sells truffles, coffee, cocoa. biscuits and ice cream.
Godiva operates more than 450 retail boutiques in the U.S. Canada, Europe and Asia.
Godiva's signature package is the gold ballotin (french for "small, elegant box of chocolates).
IanGrace's husband Werner, surprised me with a box of Godiva Chocolates. Thank you Werner that was so sweet and thoughtful of you. The picture here is courtesy of IanGrace, used with her permission.
Founded in Brussels in 1857 by Jean Neuhaus, NEUHAUS CHOCOLATIER makes luxury Belgian Chocolates, biscuits and ice cream. Jean Neuhaus opened his first store in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. The pics shown here are of the shop in the Galeries.
Today, Neuhaus has over 1,000 stores in 40 countries. All Neuhaus products are still made in Viezenbeek, near Brussels and are exported worldwide.
The shop is very small and quaint and filled with the most wonderful handmade chocolates you could imagine. The shop keeper was very friendly and helpful. It is located just one street over from the Grand Place. We visited many chocolate shops in the area. None compared to this one. La maison du chocolate artisanal is our very favorite.
What to buy This chocolate shop offers the best pralines in Belgium.
De Sadeleer Lucas Chocolaterie is just meters away from the famous statue of Mannekenpiss.
It is also a patisserie, glacerie and salon de degustation. they call themselves the artistic chocolatier in the area of St Jacques. Its open all days from 10-18, till 20 Thursday and Friday and till 22 on the weekends. Its closed on Wednesday. This place really offers a wide variety of choice. Packages are from 8, 16 and 32 euros which I find extremly steep. However,that is pretty much the average price for hand made chocolates. Your alternative is Cote D Or which you can also probably find in your local supermarket at home, just like Guylain.
What to buy Praline