Recently, I made a new rule while travelling – I am buying only edible souvenirs. So, you can imagine that now, going to Belgium for me, is a little holiday itself. Each time, I’m back with a bag full of Belgian chocolates (and a few more jogging mornings scheduled in my agenda). In this post, I compiled a short list with the best chocolate shops in Bruges, that should help you plan your visit.
How it all started – History of Belgian chocolate
A tradition of making chocolate is quite long in Belgium, and it goes back to the 17th century. This is the time when Spanish brought this fine ingredient from Central America to Europe. It was traditionally used by Aztecs and Mayas, who called it a drink from the gods. Since Belgium was at that time a part of the Spanish Kingdom, the ingredient was introduced largely there, as well.
Already in the 18th-century drinking hot chocolate was extremely popular in the upper class and in courts around Europe (especially in France and Austria). But more significant production and its regulation took place a century later. This is also when chocolate becomes affordable to everyone. They are experimenting with different flavours and shapes, which at the end led to making probably the finest products in the chocolate industry – pralines.
Belgian chocolate shops
Today, there are more than 2000 chocolatiers in the country. There is a huge tradition in making the chocolates. You can feel it very well by visiting one of many Belgian chocolate shops. Nice historical environment, beautifully packed pralines and many different chocolate bars together with that sweet smell. Oooh, you are immediately starting to crave for something sweet.
Since I am in Belgium quite often, I started to explore more of their tradition of making chocolate and, well, did quite some tasting. You will find many small stores around its cities, with numerous combinations of shapes, colours, fillings and flavours.
It would be a shame not to include them on your visit to Brugge, so here are some of my favourite places to visit there.
The best place to start your visit with and learn some fun facts about this sweet is in a museum of chocolate itself. It is located just around the corner of the Grote Markt. You will see how Mayas and Aztecs first started to make hot chocolate, how it came to Europe and become a drink of kings, queens and court ladies. It is nice to discover differences between some types of chocolates and ingredients they are putting into them. The museum also has demonstrations where you can see a procedure of making chocolate bars and pralines.
I love the fact that you are getting a chocolate bar with your entrance ticket at the beginning. But, if this isn’t enough for you, there is a wide selection of different kinds of chocolates in a museum shop, as well.
My favorite chocolate shops in Bruges
# The Choco Line
The Choco Line is one of these places that are becoming hot spots soon after they’re opened. It is worth just visiting the store, to see its interior, design and a way they are interpreting chocolate in popular culture. If you related it with an art movement, The Choco Line would be a Pop Art of a chocolate world.
However, their chocolates are even more amazing. They are experimenting with all different flavours, from bacon and onion to sake. Shapes of these little sweets are following pop art models, as well, so you will find skulls, swans and cartoon-like prints on them. Absolutely a must-see place in Bruges.
Dumon is a stylish modern Belgian chocolate shop with numerous chocolate bars and pralines to chose from. All of their products are nicely packed and decorated with blue ribbons, so they are a perfect present (and a souvenir). Founded in 1992, it is still very much family owned, but it grew massively from its beginnings.
There are few Dumon stores in Bruges, so it’s easy to find them and enjoy in high quality and stylish chocolates.
Jean Galler, the founder of this chocolaterie, was from the family of gourmets, so his path in the chocolate world was very much predicted from the very beginning. Galler chocolatier has a long tradition, it was the first company to create dark chocolate enriched with 70% cocoa, as well as being precursors in white chocolate of high quality (definitely, my favourite). You can choose from many different flavours and find the one perfect for you in their store located on the Grote Markt in Bruges.
What are your favourite chocolate shops in Bruges? Do you have your own favourite Belgian chocolate? Let us know in the comments below.