Anyone with a sweet tooth would do well to head to Lyon tout de suite. Right away.
Chocolate shops abound. We weren’t two minutes out of the hotel before I was drawn to a window by the sight of this colorful gravel heap:
This was at 100+ year old chocolatier Voisin, and I got a sachet of the “grignotines,” an assortment of chocolate and candy covered nuts. And then I regretted not visiting the dentist when I was recently in the States.
The gnarly pink nuggets you see in the mix are pralines roses, the city’s emblematic confection, which finds its way into every kind of treat. Brioches, cakes, and chocolates are topped and filled with bits of the rosy rocks.
But it’s the tartes aux pralines roses that really steal the show:
They are everywhere, in every size. The filling is made by dissolving the pralines (which are almonds enrobed in hard pink sugar) in créme fraîche, producing a sticky sweet mess.
It was a short trip. I could have easily spent the whole time in the old town, getting lost in the traboules, the ancient passageways hidden behind closed doors, connecting the buildings and streets. But I had very important errand to run on the other side of the Rhone: Bernachon was calling.
The pastries at Bernachon are gorgeous, but chocolate is what their known for. And though the chocolates are at the back of the room, the small hits you the moment you walk through the door. Bernachon is special because, among other things, they actually make their own chocolate, taking the raw cacao beans through the roasting and grinding and conching processes to create a range of finished chocolates. Purists can buy a bar to nibble (or gorge) but I enlisted the help of a friendly sales person to put together a box of truffles and bon bons.
It was no easy task.
Can’t make it to Lyon? Bernachon chocolate is available at À l’Etoile d’Or in Paris. But with one to two trains per hour between the cities (and flights, too, when Europe isn’t covered with a cloud of volcanic ash), this is an easy and worthwhile trip.
Sweet tooth or not.
See more photos of my trip to Lyon on Flickr.
Bernachon has a fan in David Lebovitz.
Read about pink praline on Chocolate & Zucchini.