Food & Restaurants

Visiting the Puyricard Chocolate Factory

It’s difficult to talk about chocolate in the South of France without mentioning Puyricard. We first became acquainted with this artisan chocolatier at the annual chocolate festival in the village of Belgentier. Soon after, with Christmas season in full swing, I tried to fight the crowds at our Puyricard boutique in the center of our town – but to no avail.  The in-laws got a food basket and I got a lesson in the value of extended-lunch breaks.

Puyricard chocolates are not cheap (€23 for 240 grams) but they are among some of the best I’ve ever had. And after a visit to the Puyricard factory (just outside Aix, in the town of the same name) I can understand why. All of the chocolates are handmade by a staff of about 20. Their staff swells to around 100 during the Christmas season, which, we learned during the tour, is when they make 40% of their annual profit. No wonder I never got my truffle box.

 

Kathy and I were giddy as school girls the afternoon of our factory tour. Surprisingly, we were the only non-French visitors and we both tried hard to 1) look chic in our white “bonnets” and protective overcoats 2) catch every tidbit of the chocolate-making process as the tour was all in French 3) nudge past the 8 or so French children who were about 2 seconds away from running off with as much chocolate as their tiny hands could carry. You know who you are kids.

The Puyricard factory tour begins with a 20-minute video explaining the history of the chocolatier and how they came to dominate the Provençal market. Outside of the south, our guide admitted, they are not very well known, even though they have four busy boutiques in Paris. The tour continued to the factory where our guide explained everything from the “raw” chocolate selection process, to the molding, hand-decorating (a gold-leafed gem known as the palette d’or is one of their best sellers), and the distribution network. We also learned how calissons and marshmallows, two other favorites from their product line, are made.

Unfortunately, no photos were allowed on the tour, so we’ll have to content ourselves with these shots I took from the Belgentier chocolate festival. I’d recommend taking this tour in the fall or spring season when the weather is cooler and there is more activity in the factory itself. Also, don’t be disappointed if you don’t get as many “samples” along the tour as you’d hoped for, as it ends with a heaping plate of chocolates, calissons, and marshmallows (pictured below) offered to the guests.  Sweet.

 

 

To Learn More:

Puyricard web site.

Link for booking tours here.

List of Puyricard boutiques.

Puyricard on the map.

 

About Tuula

I’m a 40-ish American woman & I’ve been blogging about my travels around belle Provence since moving here in 2010. You can also find my travel writing in International Living magazine, Charming Small Hotels (France), & Living France magazine. Bienvenue!

10 comments on “Visiting the Puyricard Chocolate Factory

  1. Sounds like a tasty tour; at least you got to see the chocolate making process although it sounds like there might be more to see when its a little bit cooler. We visited the Valrhona chocolate factory in in the Northern Rhone town of Tain-L’Hermitage and there we got to see a video plus take unlimited amount of chocolate samples with us but no entry into the actual factory. So we will head towards Aix and stop off at the factory in Puyricard.

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    • Anonymous

      Hi Michel, it’s true that the Valrhona chocolate tour sounds interesting but it is really nice to see the actual chocolate-making process… and I was impressed with the amount of samples at the end. It’s very easy to reserve for the Puyricard tour, there are 14 spots each tour and you can reserve directly online – although they do ask you to send a €10 check (which they won’t cash) as a deposit in case you cancel. The fee is €10 for the tour. The whole affair was very professional.

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  2. Velva-Tomatoes on the Vine

    Awesome. Hopefully, you enjoyed a good glass of wine after the amazing chocolate. You really know how to enjoy your day.

    Velva

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    • Anonymous

      Oh we are taking advantage of a few nice glasses of Rosé this summer Velva, thanks for asking 🙂 Thank you for your kind comment and hope things are grand on your side of the world!

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  3. Gosh! You two are having WAY too much fun. 🙂 I love it! 🙂

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    • Anonymous

      Next time we’ll have to make it the 3 of us… I can see many yummy meals in our future 🙂

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  4. Marianne

    I am so jealous! A chocolate factory tour sounds great just about now. Thanks so much for the information – I love Puyricard chocolates and look forward to taking a tour. My list of “must do’s” is filling up!

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    • Anonymous

      Merci Marianne 🙂 Yes, I think you would love this chocolate tour…plus, what a great excuse to visit Aix! That’s just what we did after the tour… took us about 15 minutes to get to the center of town and start cruising Cours Mirabeau. Hope you a very bon weekend!

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  5. mmmmmmmmmmm Puyricard.

    That is all. 🙂

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