Delicately placed on the saucer of your espresso is a small black and gold square. All over the world, great restaurants accompany their end-of-meal coffees with this little square containing a Valrhona chocolate. Made in the heart of the Drôme, in the middle of the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône, Valrhona chocolates have existed since 1922. Here, the entire chain is worked on, from the pod to the chocolates, in an approach that respects the producers: the company is also B-Corp certified.
Since 2013, the Cité du Chocolat, the first tourist site dedicated to chocolate in France, and one of the few in the world, has been located at Valrhona's historic headquarters in Tain-L'Hermitage. And this unique museum has plenty to interest young and old alike. Here are our 6 reasons to make your children discover the Cité du Chocolat as soon as it reopens.
They will enjoy so much
The tone is set as soon as you enter: the child (and his parents, no jealousy) is offered two squares of chocolate. This is an opportunity to learn how to taste: unsurprisingly, in this region so steeped in vineyards, tasting chocolate is very similar to tasting wine! Once the pretty golden paper is removed, we start by observing its colour. By smelling it, even before tasting it. Then you listen to it: you break the square in two, to listen to the noise it makes when it breaks. Finally, it's time to taste. One half concentrates on the flavours: bitter or acidic? The other half concentrates on the aromas: is there fruit, flowers, etc.? Your children will never again eat chocolate as they used to!
Because they will understand everything about chocolate making
Of course, we don't visit the chocolate factory as such: but after the visit, the making of chocolate will no longer hold any secrets for you! You will discover the nine stages: each of them is explained on video by a Valrhona employee who describes his job. Fascinating! A little further on, a workshop allows you to see and taste the chocolate at each stage of its manufacture: the grue, which comes out of the bean; the cocoa liquor; the chocolate paste, to which cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla and soya lecithin have already been added, and finally the finished chocolate. This is the ideal way to understand how a cocoa bean is transformed into the beautiful bar that is the joy of snacking. The materials, the smells: everything is there.
They will be immersed in a tropical forest
This is one of the first rooms you visit in the Cité du Chocolat, and perhaps the one where you will spend the most time: the tropical room offers a visual and audio immersion in a tropical forest, right in the heart of a cocoa plantation. On all the walls, the floor and the ceiling, animated images of the forest are projected. You can hear birds moving, insects buzzing, leaves moving in the wind. Snakes slither across the floor: children can spend an hour trying to crush them with their feet. In the meantime, the immersion is quite successful and the explanatory panels allow you to understand how men and women harvest cocoa beans.
They will have fun and get involved
Before climbing to the first floor, the children will observe how chocolate sweets are made using the precious technique of enrobing. All that chocolate flowing to coat hazelnuts... makes your mouth water! On the first floor, they discover all the professions of the chocolate professionals: the pastry chef, the chocolatier, the cover maker... Numerous playful workshops allow them to have fun with chocolate: on a tablet, they have to memorise and repeat a recipe for Royal au chocolat like a great chef. Elsewhere, they will have fun writing their name in chocolate: more difficult than it seems! The youngest children have a dedicated play area, L'Ile O Petits. Pastry-making workshops are planned for 7-13 year olds, by reservation and for about 30 minutes. Adults can also take part in a workshop, from 30 minutes to 2h30 for the most elaborate.
They can make an all-chocolate lunch
The Comptoir Porcelana is the restaurant of the Cité du Chocolat. The dishes initiated by the famous pastry chef of the house, Frédéric Bau, integrate chocolate from the starter to the dessert, for original combinations. Butternut with pecan praline, duck legs with dark chocolate, lemon verrine with white chocolate: amazing!
They will convince you to visit the shop
Quite frankly, they won't need to push you very far! The visit of the Cité du Chocolat ends with the big Valrhona shop, where you can find all the products of the Drôme chocolate maker at preferential prices. Not to be missed.
Ask the Cité du Chocolat for information on the reception conditions related to sanitary measures.