The Rise of Chocolate Tourism

Has looking for new and exotic flavors become boring? You can still go to choco-extremes with the new sport of chocolate tourism

If you've ever given it some thought, you've probably realized that most of us who are willing to dedicate our lives to chocolate wouldn't hesitate to indulge in a little chocolate tourism here and there. As it happens, you'd be right.

Choco-tourism is exactly what it sounds like: the practice of touring famous locations where the food of the gods is manufactured and released to an unsuspecting public. Factories, renowned chocolatiers, specialty candy stores -- chocolate tours are gaining popularity all over the world.

The City of Lights

Paris, the world's top center of fashion for everything from art to pastry to, well, fashion, is especially popular among the choco-tourism crowd.

You can always set off on your own tour, combining a tourist guide, map, car or bike, and a working knowledge of French -- if you don't mind fumbling around in an unfamiliar city where few people will so much as admit to speaking your native tongue. There are chocolate shops, chocolatiers, and such galore.

Easier Out

However, you're better off paying for something like the Paris Chocolate and Pastry Food Tour. These casual walking tours are pricy ($75-113, last we looked), but they're limited to no more than eight people for 3-4 hours.

The tour guide is an "experienced connoisseur" who speaks English, and along the way you'll try out a bakery, three pasty shops, and three chocolate shops. So it's not a purely chocolate experience, but that's even better because you get to try all kinds of tasty combos, and walk off the calories.

Chocolat sur roues

If you'd prefer a speedier experience, some vendors offer choco-tours by car. Expect to pay more than for the walking tour, though: while it may take as little as 1.5 hours, you'll have to part with more than $200 each.

But the amenities are great! Not only will your own chauffeur drive you around in a vintage car to visit world-famous chocolate makers for tastings (and a chance to buy their edible artworks on the spot), in most cases you'll get a free bottle of wine to enjoy. Beware, though; you have to pay for the tastings!

Your Mileage May Vary

We've focused on Paris for this article because as with so many things, they've raised the "tour de chocolat" to a fine art. Needless to say, their offerings may vary from time to time, but you can always find a choco-tour to experience.

And remember: there are fine chocolatiers, factories, and processors all over the world. So the next time you plan a vacation, do a Google search and see what you can find near your destination. You just might be able to add chocolate tourism to the itinerary!