Geneva is famous for all the glory of fine Swiss watchmaking, being a centre of business, capital for diplomacy and cradle of excellence. Bordered on 3 sides with France, the city is calm and safe yet diverse and international. Evidenced by Europe’s Leading City Break Destination awards received for second time in a row, there are more than the fountain shooting high up into the sky. Finer things in life worth touring around in spectacular setting – opera, museums, gourmet restaurants and chocolates.
Unfortunately, not much dining can be done in 24 hours in this gastronomy city (house 11 restaurants of the Lake Geneva Region in Michelin Guide 2015 for a total of 16 stars – click here for list). What SOTG lack on gastronomy discovery is replaced by overdose of Swiss chocolates that Geneva is blessed with outstanding chocolatiers (often products are secret family recipes handed down through generations). Personally more inclined to bitter dark chocolate with no or less added sugar but aim to discover the Swiss chocolate which is famous for the milk based and the ‘conching’ technique, along with the addition of cocoa butter resulted to a smooth melting in mouth.
So here are recommendation of boutique chocolates located within easy reach of one another:
• Favarger 1826 – The seventh generation story started when a watchmaker married into a chocolate maker family, where he then embraced the chocolate making profession. Being offered a welcome drink and good information while touring the modern looking shop that has display of how chocolates being made: from selecting beans to recipes. When asked about the percentage of cocoa used, the store manager said ‘it is not simply about the percentage but about the quality of cocoa used’. Quality commitment is the pride of Favarger and they overseeing every step of the process. The products are 100% GMO free. If the shop is not enough, their factory open to visitors located in the neighbouring village of Versoix (5 minutes by train from Cornavin train-station).
• Auer Chocolatier 1820 – The shop opened by Henri Auer still maintain its wooden charm after 5 generations. The cafe is a simple shop served different pastries on covered plate put on every table – a laid back place for local to have quiet read and small chat. When entered the chocolate shop next to it, the lady on counter offered their most famous specialty: Amandes princesse (Roasted almonds, caramelised, coated with milk chocolate and dipped in cocoa powder). Sweet to my liking, I’ve asked for dark chocolates and tried the ganache with the highest of cocoa content at 76% – tasted so heavenly that worth buying. As for their truffle, the making process been conserved well to be made by traditional method that display voluptuous characteristics.
• Martel Chocolatier 1818 – The first shop opened in Carouge on Place du Marché, 2km south of the city centre. It has a wide range of macaroons, chocolates, confections and pastries. The broken chocolates come with pretty design that caught my eyes – total of 22 flavours such as Black Chocolate – Poivre de Sechuan (Sechuan Pepper), Cornflakes and Expelette (Chili Pepper). It’s also well-known for its Truffe Neigeuse. Exclusive use of pure chocolate – the Maracaibo 65% Grand Cru consists of beans from 100% Criollo variety (the highest quality cocoa beans) from Venezuela. Fortunately, their branch at the airport (both departure and arrival level) give no chance not to visit if you miss the one in town.
• Du-Rhone 1875 – While not tried and tested, the shop is steeped with history. It was popular among the upper class who arrived with horse-carriages – even the gourmet horses were known to block the road till being fed with pralines. Some manuscript of recipes were missing around 1950s . Since then the precious recipes are locked in a secret safe. Must try is Mocca Glacè – Winner of the Gault & Milleau Prize. The highest bitter dark chocolate truffle is 66% cocoa whereas the chocolate bar come with 99% cocoa. Had I know there is a tea room, I would have spent a bit more time here to try some pralines (hazelnut chocolates) and hot chocolate which prepared in the traditional way. Note there is an outlet in Riyadh, KSA – so that’s the closest.
• Arn Chocolaterie – My partner was not keen to walk back to the Old Town due to time constraint-otherwise I would have enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate on terrace of beautiful square, Place du Bourg-de-Four. It’s famous for pavés de Genève (cube of rich chocolates), truffles, 40 kinds of pralines, and also other specialties such as 70% dark chocolate and dark chocolate with orange.
• Other shop such Philippe Pascoët – for varieties flavors of contemporary styled chocolates and ganache, and La Bonbonniére 1921 for Geneva-themed chocolates. For chocolate tour visit as Stettler 1947 or take excursion to Maison Cailler 1796 situated in Broc, Gruyerè – the oldest chocolate factory in Switzerland.
We flew Business Class direct with Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi Airport -a 7 hours flight.A smooth end to end Etihad Luxury Coach service that can be requested online from Dubai to the Abu Dhabi airport. Check-in baggage and boarding pass conveniently processed at the Etihad Travel Mall facility on Sheikh Zayed Road- avoiding crowd at the airport. Need I say more about the service at the Business Class that is superb, combined with tasty fine food – please find below as posted on SOTG’s Instagram.
Upon arrival at the Geneva International Airport – get an 80-minutes ticket free-of-charge for a ride to place of accommodation. There is free public transportation with accommodation – get Geneva Transport Card for taking tram, train, bus on Geneva territory and even yellow taxi boat to cross the lake.
Hotel Le Mont Brillant very conveniently located by the Cornavin train-station less than 10 minutes ride to the airport. Warning on the pretty glass painting deco in the lobby carry and escalator’s door.
Here are some snaps to capture a brief visit yet memorable moments.
Get more information at Geneva Tourism.
Hope to visit again sometime. It’s definitely not just the city but region to go exploring.
Have you been to Geneva? What is your favourite chocolate boutique?