Belgium will always be a favourite for chocolate lovers

My first official research trip for Chocolatour was in the fall of 2009 … with a trip to Belgium, France and Switzerland.

In Belgium, we had a glorious and enlightening time in Brussels, Florenville and Liège, where we were immersed in the sophistication of Belgian chocolate culture. I visited those three particular cities under the guidance of Visit Belgium, as they are home to three of Belgium’s finest and most innovative chocolatiers. My thanks for the support of Visit Belgium for making our visit possible.

grand-place

The Grand Place of Brussels, Belgium, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a terrific place to shop for chocolate.

This post will introduce you to some of Belgium’s uber-talented chocolatiers, their products, and communities in my top 3 picks for innovative Belgian chocolate. But for this week …

brussels-belgium

 

My Top 3 Reasons for visiting Belgium:

1) Chocolate! (But of course!) There are probably more chocolate shops in Belgium than any other place on the planet! In Brussels and Bruges, in particular, you’ll encounter a chocolate boutique every few steps. And the chocolate is amazing. In most cases, it’s handcrafted by local chocolatiers, each with his or her own unique style to entice you. Experiment! Try many and find the right chocolate personality to match your own. Think of it as chocolate dating, and what can be more satisfying than that! And don’t forget to visit the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate to learn the history of chocolate, watch chocolate-making demos and purchase a selection of chocolate on-site.

brussels-belgium

2) The Belgians are really nice. You’ll find most Belgians to be a friendly, helpful people. Try to engage in conversation. Knowing a little French will be helpful, as French is the principal language spoken in Brussels. But you will find the Belgians to be much more humble and accommodating than their French neighbours, making a trip to Belgium pleasant and engaging.

3) Beer! I’m not a big beer drinker, but the Belgians really know their beer, and if you’re fortunate enough to visit during the warm summer months, nothing will refresh you better than a frosty mug of Stella Artois or one of the local craft beers on one of the gorgeous patios!

Please share your own special memories about Brussels and Belgium. I can think of no better way to learn about humanity, than to celebrate the attributes of other cultures with our fellow lovers of travel.

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Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

19 Responses

  1. Kathe says:

    I was just thinking, on this brilliant fall morning in Montreal, of how, two years ago, I was eagerly anticipating our chocolate research trip. It really was a voyage of discovery. I went along on the pretext of being your interpreter, which in the end involved much more than language. The three countries had different attitudes in many ways, but all the chocolatiers we visited had an almost fanatical attachment to their métier, and their delight in what they did every day was so contagious. Thanks for the memories…

  2. Right on, Kathe. Thanks for opening the discussion on my tribute to World Tourism Day. Belgium has such a wonderfully warm culture. Could it be all the beer & chocolate that is consumed? Thanks again for accompanying me on the maiden voyage of Chocolatour, and for setting me off on the right foot in my global exploration of chocolate.

  3. I love Belgium for the fantastic architecture in Brussels and Bruges, and for the scrumptious food. We never had a bad meal in Belgium.

    • Agreed, Terri. We never had a bad meal there, either. Although as a wine lover, I found the selections of wine not to be the best. I guess everyone drinks beer! And has scrumptious desserts with fabulous coffee.

      And yes, the architecture is indeed lovely. We never made it to Bruges, but believe me … when I make it back to Belgium, it will at the top of my list!

      Thanks for joining us here on the blog.

  4. satinka says:

    Mmmmm…wizardofwords, I live vicariously through your chocolate posts! 😉 Love, Satinka

    • Thanks, Esther. It’s always great to hear from you.

      Hopefully … you and John will soon make a journey overseas and you will see some of these wonderful places firsthand. Then you can do some Chocolatouring of your own! If you can wait until 2012, the book will be out to guide you.

  5. As I just told my fans on facebook when I posted the link to your article, I am leaving right now for Belgium…chocolate and architecture…it doesn’t get better!! Thx for the wonderful post and brilliant photo I might add!

    • Thanks, Jeff. Belgium really is one of those countries that doesn’t blow its own horn. But it’s well worth a visit. In fact … I enjoy the cultural diversity of every European nation. And with Belgium, the people are really friendly and helpful, making it a wonderful experience regardless of the focus of your visit.

  6. Strawberry puree and champagne spritzer served in a chocolate-rimmed glass..Id love to hear what youd have made! My favorite chefs were Tre and the girl cant think of her name now who was one of the finalist from the season when Hung won..Chocolate outlets at Brussels airport. .. 24.99…Ethel Davies La Cure Gourmand Sweet Biscuit and Chocolate Shop Brussels Belgium Europe – Photographic Print…….

  7. A couple of years ago I spent a day in Bruges – I think we bought some speciality Belgian chocolate to bring home as presents and then ate it all that night in our cottage in France! Thanks for reminding me. If you shop at ALDI there are some great florentines this year!

    • Thanks for your comment, Andrew.

      Yes, buying chocolate abroad and actually getting it home is indeed a challenge! I always make sure I buy an extra large amount because invariably, what was meant as a gift for someone else will become a gift for ME! It happened to me just this month, when we came home from Fargo, ND with some amazing chocolate I had bought for our neighbour. Alas, we didn’t see him for a few days, and before I knew it … half of the bag was gone. I deeply apologized to him and assured him that I would bring him some chocolates from our upcoming trip to Missouri.

  8. Strongly suggest adding a “google+” button for the blog!

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks for your comment. The blog has now been migrated over to a new URL at: where you will find a “Share” bar at the end of each post that does have the Google + tab. You can “like” this and the other posts there! Tanks again for visiting.

  9. Carolyne says:

    Good day Doreen Pendgracs I enjoyed your informative blog post on Belgium will always be a favourite for chocolate lovers. This won’t be the last time I visit this blog. Some great information here.

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks so much, Carolyne. Hope to see you here again next week when I’ll introduce you to some amazing Peruvian chocolate.

  10. Jorgo says:

    The best chocolate is Guylian for me. The sea-shell chocolates are sooooo delicious.
    If you’re in Belgium, try the best beer, Stella Artois, which is from Leuven. If you want to try a stronger beer, Duvel is a good one.
    Jorgo recently posted…Rome (Roma)My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Jorgo, and thanks for dropping into my chocolate travel blog.

      Yes, I do like Guylian chocolates. But I prefer the deep dark chocolate offered by many of the smaller Belgian chocolatiers such as Laurent Gerbaud of Brussels. And yes, I like Stella. Haven’t tried the Duvel. Will have to look that one up!

      • Jan says:

        Although Duvel is a pretty decent beer I’d suggest trying one of the regional beers, just ask for the specialties! Every region in Belgium has some great local beers to offer.

        • Hi Jan and thanks for your comment! I’d love to return to Belgium and further explore their amazing selection of beer. When I was there in 2009, I was focusing on the chocolate trail, and the craft beer movement was still pretty new. Since then, I’ve really learned to taste beer like I taste wine, and have learned to love and appreciate the flavour notes each has to offer. Cheers!
          Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…hot on the trail of the best Nanaimo Bar experienceMy Profile

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