THE BEST PLACES IN TO GET YOUR BRUGES CHOCOLATE FIX
Chocolates, waffles and beer. Possibly the great triumvirate of Belgium. A country divided on the linguistic lines of Flanders and Wallonia but very much united by three of its most popular products. However, when it comes to Bruges, chocolate reigns supreme.
The historic city of Bruges, one of the most vibrant cities in the world during its Hanseatic League heyday, can possibly lay claim to being the chocolate capital of the world. Boasting similar architecture to Lille it is and easily connected by train from Brussels.
The street of Wollestraat is the heart and soul of Bruges’ unofficial chocolate mile. With more chocolate shops than you can shake a stick at, this is the prime location to feed your inner chocoholic. Look further afield and there is bound to be a chocolate shop on almost every other street too. In fact, visiting Bruges may make you feel overwhelmed by the number of establishments present. Whether it is for your own gratification or if looking for that nice souvenir, here are ten of the best places in Bruges to get your chocolate fix.
The Old Chocolate House
Not just a chocolate house but also a full-on experience. Located on the Mariastraat near the cathedral, The Old Chocolate House is all about the cosiness of a cup of hot choc, especially on those colder days. As if the window displays and shelf choices were not tempting enough, its ever so quaint upstairs café must be Bruges’ #1 chocolate experience.
Although the café does not open for service until noon, such is its popularity that you may find customers waiting shortly before its opening!
This is very much a DIY chocolate experience. From the many different choices on the menu, you are served with the individual components of your chocolate concoction and given the tools to make it yourself. Hot milk, cocoa powder and any extra ingredients there for you to stir. I ordered “Mr. T’s special mix” (nothing to do with B.A. Baracus?) and in addition a nice chocolatey Snickers cupcake (or should that be Marathon?) was what I melted away in the hot milk.
As well as chocolate, the good old Belgian waffles (with extra cream and chocolate) could not be ignored.
There really is something so comforting about hot chocolate. A remedy to all your troubles that may be getting you down.
Mariastraat 1a, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Home Sweet Home
With two locations in Bruges, the largest on Steenstraat, a trip inside does give credence to that old saying of “like a kid in a candy store”. Candy that will turn your mouth purple as well as so many different chocolates to choose from in your own “Pick n Mix” downstairs. Add some gooey sugary jellies as well if you must. It’s all here!
Star players at team Home Sweet Home include the different macaroon selections and assortment boxes. Also of great allure to customers are the giant marzipan cakes. Especially the ones with pistachio nuts. Purchase in different sizes, either the full marzipan or a slice if you don’t think you have the capacity for the full cake.
There are two branches of Home Sweet Home in Bruges but the larger one is on Katelijnestraat past the Sint-Jaans Hospitaal.
Katelijnestraat 34, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Wollestraat 32, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
La Belgique Gourmande
The almost orangey glow of the lights reflecting on the wooden panels inside La Belgique Gourmande is every bit as seductive to customers as its products. At least that’s the way my senses noticed things here. Intentional or not, it certainly grabbed my attention.
The staff are always offering samples to try before you buy and the tool shaped chocolates are unique. Nuts, bolts, spanners and such shapes covered in cocoa powder.
Moreover expanding beyond chocolate, La Belgique Gourmande also stocks plenty of waffles and beers. Some with a hint of a chocolate taste, some not.
Finding a reasonably priced selection box in Bruges is not easy but overall the value here is reasonable. A world selection box of 21 different chocs set me back around €16 which in relation to its quantity and quality served me well.
Wollestraat 27, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Breidelstraat 14, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Steenstraat 12, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Naming itself after one of the great Flemish painters of the 17th Century, Van Oost is a smaller but more intimate establishment in Bruges. So much that it can sometimes be easy to overlook considering its size among the chocolate titans of Wollestraat.
Recognisable by the emerald green banners outside, this colour scheme may or may not be a cryptic clue telling you which of its specialties you must try. Varieities of mint flavoured chocolates are some of the specialties here and also Van Oost’s Earl grey flavoured teas are always popular.
This is certainly a destination for chocolates of the most unusual kind.
Ginger truffles, perchance?
Another really nice family run business here and great for those seeking variety to their chocolate palate.
Wollestraat 11, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
The Chocolate Line
The brainchild of Dominique Persoone, more of a “shock-olatier” than a chocolatier, The Chocolate Line is what you get when a hobby turns into a passion. Something of a celebrity in these quarters, Persoone takes his chocolate very seriously and seems to have made a mini exhibition out of it. Not so much a chocolate shop but a shrine to the humble cocoa bean.
Visitors, especially the younger ones, will be impressed with the almost scaled down Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory feel to the place. It is fascinating to see a little museum-like display of the factory tools involved in the chocolate production process providing you with an educational guide to just how all that tasty chocolate comes to be. An inspiration possibly to any budding future chocolate developers who may want to follow his example.
Describing this as the purest form of chocolate from “bean to bar”, we can even watch the process in store. Founded here in 1992, this mini-museum pushes the limits of chocolate production like no other. Some of the most unusual flavours that you would never have thought were possible.
Whilst I may be tempted to dismiss most of this as a marketing gimmick, in the age of celebrity chefs and the Food Network you cannot help but admire the dedication to chocolate as an art form.
Simon Stevinplein 19, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Labelling itself as the artisan chocolate house, Crevin’s location is very scenic too. Overlooking the Dijver canal and the trees that make for a photographer’s dream, Crevin insists that its chocolates are the most natural. That is with no preservatives (whatever falls into that category) and ingredients all 100% naturally sourced.
The dripping chocolate fountain is also there to dip your marshmallows in. That is, if you purchase them you cheeky sod!
Shelves of beautifully gift-wrapped chocolate boxes of assorted selections are again yours for the taking. The snow topped chocolate marshmallows, nutty squares and fudge blocks got my attention. What about you?
Rozenhoedkaai 1, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
“L’Atelier du Chocolat” on the chocolate mile of Wollestraat, leading chocolatier Fangio De Baets and his team are responsible for some of the most artistically crafted pralines you will ever see. And taste.
A family business, Parlinette has crafted some of the most natural chocolates with no added sugars since 1992. The chocolate seashells are a work of art but also a lot of effort goes into creating larger seasonal designs. Easter bunnies, Santa Claus and Halloween Jack o Lantern are some of the special edition chocolates.
You may even meet and be served by De Baets himself if you are lucky!
Wollestraat 31b, 8000 Brugge, belgium
There are three branches of Dumon in Bruges, often hailed as the place to go for the most eclectic selections. Pralines and truffles with flavours ranging from rum to limoncello vie for your attention alongside little cherry balls.
The small store on Eiermarkt neat the main square can get a bit crowded but is always charming. Its pleasant quaint size overlooking the rest of the street is alluring.
A bit further away on Walstraat you find Dumon’s original branch. Housed in one of those great classic Hanseatic buildings typical of Brugge, this is perhaps the more authentic experience.
Walstraat 6, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Perhaps the most famous name in Belgium’s chocolate insitutions, Leonidas has been a pioneer of the industry since 1913. With Brussels the main hub containing several branches, there are also two in Bruges.
The “Manon” has to be Leonidas’ signature chocolate across all stores. A buttery cream nougat base chocolate in many different flavours, you must try the Manon Ruby. A strawberry flavoured choc on a striking pink coating that will delight those who love a fruity chocolate.
A certified supplier to Belgium’s royal family, Leonidas with its very neo-classical logo and font are one of the ubiquitous stores found anywhere in Belgium.
Steenstraat 4, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Tucked away on one of the side streets near the Grote Markt, the attractive little store gives a lot away in its name. Although you will find many different chocolate specialties, it is the truffles that really stick out here. The place to go for crumbly smooth truffle glory.
Five different varieties of truffle are on sale here, available either individually or in a selection box. White, dark, milk and with or without pralines but velvet smooth all the same.
Also, something of a gimmick in Bruges, are the “naughty” chocolates. Shaped like your body parts, I suppose it will appeal to those with a puerile sense of humour. I think I moved on from those jokes in my teens, thank you!
Sint-Amandsstraat 3, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
And there are plenty more stores from where the good chocolate stuff comes from! Narrowing it down to ten was not easy. Very often you will find yourself stumbling upon many Bruges chocolate shop windows catching your attention. Even in the most unexpected locations with some of the most unexpected designs!