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Chocolat Chaud


As a child growing up in a Catholic family, I often chose to give up chocolate for Lent. Looking back it wasn’t a huge sacrifice because, one, I came from a very modest background and chocolate was already a rare treat, and two, the only chocolate we ever had either came in the form of a large block HERSHEY’S bar or Nesquik, the chocolate flavored drink mix which promised to “make milk fun” and enhance your muscle mass.

I imagine that for a child growing up in this Catholic land of artisan chocolatiers, with so many cold and dreary days leading up to Easter, the thought of snuggling up with a warm cup of herbal tea for 40 days rather than a lavish, velvety mug of hot chocolate must be daunting.

The origins of this dreamy, creamy drink are exotic for sure.

mamie_gateaux_hot_chocolate_paris.jpgMontezuma’s Aztecs were the first to brew this delectable drink, which they called Xocolatl. Sipped singularly by the ancient elite, life was grand in Aztec-land. That is until Hernan Cortez dropped by in 1517 and was mistakenly offered a nip of their elixir. Impressed and obsessed with the luxury beverage, he conquered their entire kingdom.

Recipe in hand and cocoa beans in the bag, Cortez returned to Spain and brewed up a batch for Charles V. Initially the Spanish royals were less than thrilled with the dark, bitter liquid, but with the addition of sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla beans, they soon were smitten.


The chocolate tonic hit the French court following the marriage of King Louis XIII to the Spanish Princess Anne of Austria in 1615; and when the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa (the original chocolate addict) was betrothed to Louis XIV of France, chocolate became the drink of choice for the Sun King at Versailles.

Nowadays, hot chocolate is obviously accessible to the masses, but that doesn’t mean the French have to suffer through mass-produced hot chocolate. Like so many things in France, chocolat chaud has been elevated to an artisan level.

Enjoy this visual sample of the best cups I’ve savored over the last 4 weeks.


Please check back next week for my carnet d’adresses.


carnet d’adresses: address book

chocolat chaud: hot chocolate


27 Comments Post a comment
  1. Those pictures are just mean… downright mean! I could almost taste the chocolaty goodness! … almost, but not at all, which is painful!
    Yum! I think there will be drinks like that in heaven!

    March 11, 2015
  2. Meeting the French #


    March 11, 2015
  3. Catherine Sweeney #

    Nancy, we are going there this summer, and I already showed our girls what they have to look forward too – yum!

    March 11, 2015
    • Have a great trip this summer. I promise to post my list of the best chocolat chaud in Paris soon. Avoid Angelina’s — it’s in all the guidebooks, but there are so many other better options.

      March 20, 2015
  4. Gawd just 1 cup of chocolat chaud is reason enough to go back to France!

    March 11, 2015
    • Amen, sister. You’ve got that right. Especially when you are celebrating the first day of spring in a snow storm in NYC.

      March 20, 2015
  5. Sarah Larson #

    Even though it was in the 60s here today, I’m still lusting after a chocolat chaud after seeing this!

    March 11, 2015
  6. Leslie Charbonnel #

    But you didn’t tell us which one you like the best! Jacques Genin is my favorite I think.

    March 12, 2015
    • I’m currently obsessed with:
      La Charlotte de l’Isle
      24 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, 75004
      +33 1 43 54 25 83
      Have you been there? Jaques Genin was on my list, but I always tried to go on a Monday and it was closed. I’ll be back in June. Shall we make a date?

      March 20, 2015
  7. I sent my daughter into a cafe in Limoux to order a chocolat chaud.
    When I joined her, she was glumly nursing an orange juice.
    The waitress said to me (in French) ” your daughter needs to learn how to order in a restaurant or she will surely die of thirst!”

    March 12, 2015
  8. Yes! I had one of the best chocolat chaud when I was in Paris; definitely brings back good memories. 🙂

    March 12, 2015
    • Chocolate chaud holds so many fond memories for me and my girls à Paris too. Nothing quite like it in America. Just like the French baguette, we’ve never quite successfully replicated it here.

      March 20, 2015
  9. I also had a Catholic upbringing and could never decide what to give up for Lent. I just hate giving up anything I love! So then I turned 16 and decided to give up religion, which solved the problem for me, to my mother’s eternal dismay 😉 Great post!

    March 12, 2015
  10. Oh my goodness what mouthwatering photos!! There is something about the way the French make hot chocolate that sets it apart – the flavours are unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted. We hope to go back to France next year as we haven’t been for a few years! Wonderful post 🙂

    March 12, 2015
    • Yes. The French do chocolat chaud ancient very well. Snowing here in NYC and wishing I had a cup right now.

      March 20, 2015
      • Have seen the weather on the tv in Boston and New York snow at the start of spring! Hope you keep warm!

        March 21, 2015
      • Spring snow survived. I’m off in search of the famous ‘cronut’ ….croissant / donut hybrid today.

        March 21, 2015
      • Sounds a good plan!

        March 22, 2015
  11. Melinda Lusmore #

    You have just solved my problem of how to avoid bad coffee in France! Why did I never think to have a chocolat chaud instead?? Thank you 🙂

    March 14, 2015

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