Kid in a candy store

by Julie Gibbons on August 3, 2008

Day 25 – Bright, hot sunshine in Chemaze, La Mayenne. What better thing to do than go and visit the local chocolate factory – Roland Reaute – where we are advised the chocolate is superb and we will possibly get to undertake a tour!

The Chocolate Shop

The Chocolate Shop

The whole building is air conditioned – what luxury – and then I see we have entered through the shop. This really is like being a kid at Christmas. No – it’s even better!

Rows upon rows of brightly coloured, shiny, chocolate delights! I’m in heaven. I’m in heaven. I’m in heaven.

Before I hyperventilate with excitement, we walk through to the exposition area – and peer through brightly decorated windows into the factory itself. And there are rows upon rows of dark, white, brown, orange confections … delicious glossy chocolate, shaped into cones, rounds, squares – you name it, they had made it!

It seems we are not to be allocated a guide (only available for groups of 12 or more) and so we find ourselves alone in what must be one of the most entertaining and informational display areas I’ve come across outside a museum or modern art gallery.

The history of chocolate is laid out in big bold display areas, with grand sets including Aztec pyramids and chocolate printing presses. The display is interjected with many examples of the finest artistry in chocolate I have ever seen, and I can’t help but squeal out loud every 30 seconds or so.

The Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa

Aztecs

Aztecs

They’ve even made the Mona Lisa into a piece of chocolate – would you be able to eat her? This is truly one of the best exhibitions I have attended – the only thing missing was the live demonstration – of which there are a few when you are being given a guided tour.

Chocolate Melting Pot

Chocolate Melting Pot

And all to sell chocolate. Seth Godin talks about the Japanese word for a person with an obsession, “otaku”. I believe Mr Roland Reaute is an otaku. It is the only explanation for such a beautiful representation of the chocolate art – and to turn it into such a fun and interesting experience is a wonderful gift.

There’s only one thing left to do and that is to go back and visit the shop. There’s a few gifts to buy, and perhaps a few pieces of a little something for myself :o )

It takes over an hour. Seriously, I walk up and down touching everything, mulling it over – drinking in the sheer delight of the presentation, the product, the passion.

Choco Fun

Choco Fun

MG gets bored and goes outside to take some air (it’s way hot out there – he won’t find any!) but weeR is just as excited as me. We finally settle on our purchases. Then reconsider. Then MG comes back and we sense we should really make the final decision and take our baskets of goodies to the sales counter.

The assistants on the counter must be every bit as passionate – they gift wrap our items exquisitely but are happy to answer some mundane questions about bicycle shops (we have a puncture). The only problem we face now is how to get it all back home before it melts…

Wish you were here…
Julie

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