Christmas markets at Montmatre Paris

‘The best’ of anything is always subjective, what I think is the best when it comes to food might not be to someone elses taste, but it’s always interesting to get some tips on where to find ‘the best’ of something.

I love hot chocolate.  As a non tea and coffee drinker, hot chocolate is my hot drink of choice, so naturally a trip to Paris at Christmas warranted a search for the tastiest hot chocolate to warm us up.

Paris Christmas lights

Before we went I did some research – the best selection I found for the top places for Parisian hot chocolate was on David Lebovitz’s blog.  This was primarily what I used to guide us once we reached Paris, but also just looking around at what might look good.

I think what I learnt from my search for the best hot chocolate, is that it isn’t just about taste – it’s about where you are, the surroundings and atmosphere.

Christmas at Laduree rue Royale

One place that we had hot chocolate was Laduree on rue Royale.  It was served in small silver jugs, a rich, thick and dark hot chocolate.  Our visit to Laduree was something we were quite excited about, it was even fun queuing outside in the rain with the doorman waiting to let you in.  Inside, it was dimly lit, dark old wood panelling and a soft chatter of people.

Christmas Laduree Paris

We ordered two cakes to go with our chocolat chaud, and I loved the silver jugs that the hot chocolate came in.  I also loved how thick it was, it reminded me of one of my favourite hot chocolates that I had in Barcelona (you could eat it with a spoon).  However, I wouldn’t say this was my best hot chocolate that we had in Paris, and not because it didn’t taste good.

Laduree rue Royale Paris

I found Laduree stuffy and ‘proper’.  I felt like I couldn’t relax, that everyone was scrutinizing you, that how I ate or held my cup was being judged.  I really don’t enjoy places like that, and for all the charm and history, the silver jugs of thick velvety hot chocolate, it wouldn’t be on my list of places to go if I went back to Paris.  No pictures as we weren’t allowed.

Christmas shop window Laduree Paris

One hot chocolate that we did enjoy was at Le Pain Quotidien – having seen a branch as we left England at St Pancras it wouldn’t have been my top choice of cafes to go in Paris, but a cold teenager who had been dragged across the city in search of hot chocolate from a copper cauldron that didn’t exist, was the deciding factor.

Le Pain Quotidien Paris

However, this was a relaxed cafe with a warm atmosphere, we choose cakes – for my sister a chocolate Eclair, and for me a small strawberry tart – very out of character as I usually don’t stray from anything that’s not chocolate, but I felt I couldn’t leave Paris without having had one of those fruit tarts that you see in all the patisserie shop windows.

Chocolate Eclair and Strawberry Tart

We also ordered two chocolate chaud.  The menu said we could have a single, or a double.  Not knowing what size they were and being quite cold we went for the double.

This was my sister realising how big a double chocolat chaud was when she spotted the waitress pouring hot chocolate into what can only be described as a soup bowl…

Le Pain Quotidien Paris

Hot chocolate Le Pain Quotidien Paris

This hot chocolate was light and foamy, not over-poweringly sweet or rich and bitter like the Laduree version.  I wondered how we would get through this bowl of pale frothy goodness, but it turned out it wasn’t difficult.

Giant hot chocolate in a soup bowl

With no handle and a spoon beside it, we both spooned in the hot milk and sipped it – what was lovely was I didn’t feel like anyone was watching or minding.

Hot chocolate Le Pain Quotidien Paris

The final place where we had hot chocolate, which was also our first hot chocolate of the trip, was my favourite.  After arriving in Paris on Saturday afternoon, we dropped our bags at our B&B and headed out to Montmatre.  I had been told that it was lovely place to watch the sun go down, although we didn’t have much chance of that as we hid from a hailstorm.

Montmatre at Christmas

Luckily by the time we reached Sacre Coeur the hail had stopped and we enjoyed the festive atmosphere created by a Christmas market and lots of twinkly lights.  One stall was selling hot chocolate – the kind which is a real lump of chocolate molded to a wooden spoon.  You could either buy a mug of hot chocolate or the spoons as gifts.

Christmas Markets Paris

There were about 10 different varieties, some with milk chocolate and others with dark, each with a different flavouring.  My sister chose a milk chocolate with salted caramel, and I chose a dark chocolate with nuts.  The spoons were placed into paper mugs of hot frothy milk and we stirred the chocolate in as we wandered around.

Hot chocolate Paris

Hot chocolate at Christmas in Paris

Perhaps this doesn’t sound like the most exciting or original hot chocolate, but it was tasty and warming, a memory that will stick in my mind.

Wandering through the Christmas market and quaint old streets, dusk falling, lights twinkling, and a wonderful hubbub.  Wrapped in scarves and bobble hats, warming our fingers through the paper mug, this hot chocolate was the best.

Christmas in Paris

Images: taken by myself or my little sister Izzy Burton