Valrhona in Tain lHermitage
Discussion on the General Topics board about fine chocolates sent me scurrying to my travel files. Two years ago I made the pilgrimage to Tain lHermitage in Frances northern Rhone Valley to visit La Chapelle vineyard on the hill of Hermitage. Equally exciting for me was to be in Valrhona territory.
The aroma of chocolate wafted over the town in the early morning. Heres a picture of the Valrhona factory, situated on the bank of the river. I was sad to learn that it was not possible to drop-in for a tour of the facilities at that time. But I consoled myself with shopping in the adjacent retail store.
Expecting a grand boutique ala the fancy candy stores in the worlds capitols, the utilitarian retail shop was a big surprise. Vinylclad and dull chrome displays with make-shift lighting. However, small dishes of samples for tasting various cru chocolates and candies were everywhere and I set to work. Also a steamy vat of hot chocolate perfumed the air.
At this time of year, the shop was decked out for Easter. Shelf after shelf of chocolate bunnies, chicks, and lots of colorful Easter eggs.
re: Melanie Wong
I had barely nibbled my way through a third of the samples when my traveling companion said we had to hit the road. "Nooooo, please, 5 more minutes!!!", I pleaded.
I grabbed a bunch of the bars including vintage dated single crus, pointed at a boxed assortment similar to the one on the bottom shelf of the left display case, and also got some Easter rabbits. By now he was jingling the car keys and saying, I have a car and you dont. The bus is leaving!
The smiling candy lady quickly rang up my purchases, and then grabbed some heaping handfuls of mixed chocolate balls, chocolate covered nuts, and other goodies to top off my two shopping bags. This must have been nearly 3/4 pound of free samples! I waved good-bye, and as I headed for the door, she called me back and offered me a cup of hot chocolate an amazing mélange of rich chocolates and cream for the road.
Shop and Valrhona chocolate factory:
14 avenue du Président Roosevelt -
B.P. 40 -
26601 TAIN L'HERMITAGE
As a postscript, the pralines and creams in the boxed assortments turned out to be terrible. All the free stuff and solid chocolate items were great.