Salon du Chocolat: Celebrating International Chocolates

by Becky Breshears
salon du chocolat

Sensual…rich…velvety…smooth…dark…chocolate. There’s nothing quite as satisfying for many as a good bite of chocolate.  An experience of a lifetime is to be had at an international chocolate festival and there’s no better place to experience one than in Paris, France. From new chocolatiers to new producers of chocolate products, to the world’s best chocolatiers and to fashions inspired by chocolate, the Salon Du Chocolat welcomed more than 500 participants from over 60 countries to Paris.

The Salon Du Chocolat opened its new season in Paris on October 27, 2017 at the Porte de Versailles Hall with a fanfare that was not to be missed. Two floors in a massive warehouse-type space was filled with chocolate from all over the world. The biggest names in chocolate are represented at the international chocolate festival including over 200 professional chefs, along with chocolate producers from around the world.  The competition is fierce, and the chocolate is definitely to die for!


An International, Five-Day Event

The five-day event that travels to many major cities around the world, including Dubai and New York, features classes, sampling of chocolates and the opportunity to purchase some delicious chocolate from around the globe.  Competitions for the best of everything chocolate happen throughout the festival with world famous chefs vying for prizes each season.



Salon du Chocolate: The Opening Gala

salon du chocolat fashion showThe main event of the Opening Gala is the unveiling of the chocolate inspired fashions. Tickets are only sold in advance for this special opening event so be sure to purchase yours early if you plan to attend. The public is welcome, along with vendors, media and friends of the models.  While everyone is invited, it seems to be a special affair, with a variety of fashions and lots of fun for everyone who attends.

The crowds, intent on getting the best view, pushed for a front row view in the large standing only venue. Thankfully, with big screen technology, the overhead mega-screen treated everyone in attendance to full visibility of all events; at the podium, on stage and on the boardwalk. The fashion designs ranged from entertaining and crazy to fully representative of a delicious chocolate treat. Anticipation would build from one presentation to the next; fanfare erupted as each design segment entered the stage. Some of the designs were so striking as to lengthen the crowd’s applause and excitement for several minutes. Each segment was created by professional designers and sponsored by a variety of both aspiring and well-known chocolatiers. Each segment was accompanied by music played on stage.

Yes, A Chocolate Fashion Show

While each segment was a sight to behold, and each segment totally unique, my personal favorite was the eclairs dress – perfect for the Paris debut!  The skirt resembled the famous French chocolate eclairs that are delicious treats found everywhere in Paris; quite a unique presentation I must say.  It was tough to choose favorites as each design was different, each unique and intriguing.

The fashion show is a time-honored tradition that is highly anticipated at the Opening Gala.  The Paris Salon du Chocolat certainly did not disappoint. The show lasted about an hour.  The fashions are modeled regularly throughout the five-day festival after the unveiling at the gala event, so even if you miss opening night, be sure to see the fashions.

Chocolatiers From Around the World

Chocolate vendors were numerous and from all parts of the globe.  There was a new vendor who is trying to produce and sell chocolate-covered frozen bananas.  If they can figure out shelf life issues, they are sure to be popular.   The Belgium School of Chocolate setup their assembly line for making chocolates and were demonstrating how they produce consistently good chocolate at the perfect temperature all the time from start to finish.  Other vendors had displays of harvested Cacao beans and still others had the complete process of making cacao beans into chocolate bars that we purchase in the stores.  Just browsing around the booths is an educational process, as well as a tasty one!

salon du chocolat

Education about cacao and the chocolate-making process was everywhere at Salon du Chocolat

While it was very busy at the booths, and many of the vendors didn’t speak English, we met Julie Nyangui, a vendor from Libreville, Gabon, Africa.  They communicated a bit of her story to us as best as possible. She was invited to the U.S. to learn about creating her business model and was showcasing her chocolate for the first time at the festival. Her chocolate was unique and delightful and 100% Gabonese. For lovers of real organic chocolates carefully selected and prepared, Julie’s chocolates are perfect. Ganache with local products are available from her with a variety of flavors including chili, exotic fruits, more classic tastes revisited. We were treated to some samples at the festival that were amazing.  This is a lady who is driven and committed to her work.

salon du chocolat

Julie Nyangui (R) of Les Chocolats Gabonais De Julie and her staff, at their booth

Chocolate Samples and Education—Naturally!

Open from 10 am until 7 pm on the five days which followed Opening Night, competitions were held, classes were taught, and many experiences were had by everyone in attendance.  If you are a chocolate lover, buyer, or seller, it is definitely the place to be seen for worldwide exposure. The winners of the competitions can be found on the website. The largest chocolatiers in the world sponsor the festivities and are friendly to all who stop by and sample their chocolates. They love to educate people about chocolate and share their knowledge and passion with you at the Salon Du Chocolat.

Representatives from the Japanese chocolatiers, Meiji, were among those on hand to share their knowledge of chocolate

Cacao bean grinder on display

Opening Night at Salon du Chocolat

The crowds were varied and trendy on opening night. Receiving a champagne toast at the door, one could saunter in and out of the many areas and displays setup for the Salon Du Chocolat. It was truly a site to behold.  Booths decorated with photos of the process that occurs in the making of chocolate from bean to bar while vendors took the crowds through each step of the process from the pod off the plant to the roasting and grinding of the cacao and vendors just showcasing their finished products all had very visual displays for the crowds. Some vendors were giving tasting samples, and most of the vendors offered chocolate for sale.

Attending Salon du Chocolat is absolutely worth the trip if you are lucky enough to be able to attend! Beware thought—you will return home with more tasty chocolate than you can imagine!

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-All photos by Becky Breshears.

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Kristian Knobloch November 22, 2021 - 1:43 am

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Nancy Zaffaro December 28, 2021 - 6:18 pm

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