Chocolate heart (Shutterstock.com. See main credit below)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 26 February

7 places every chocoholic must visit

Love chocolate? Indulge your obsession in these unique chocolate havens around the world

1. Le Chocolatier Manon, Brussels, Belgium

Le Chocolatier Manon chocolates are totally handmade, hand-moulded and hand-dipped in their factory in Brussels.

Each piece is created as if were a jewel and this dedication to the art of chocolate making has been recognised with awards from all over the world.

A selection of handmade chocolates (www.chocolatiermanon.com)

The small factory in Brussels offers chocoholics a 'gourmet' chocolate tour that includes the opportunity for visitors to create their own 'Belgian chocolate.' At the end of the tour you will receive your own beautifully presented 'Ballotin of Chocolate.'  To this end, exact visitor numbers must be confirmed at least 4 days prior to your visit.

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2. Mast Brothers, Brooklyn, USA

Set in the heart of New York's prime Hipster district, the Mast Brothers' Factory and shop is a paean to Industrial chic. Their chocolates are just as immaculately crafted and taste as good as they look.

Hot chocolate (mastbrothers.com)

The brothers pride themselves on their 'Bean to Bar' philosophy as much the stylish packaging that wraps their creations. Just turn up for a tour – no reservation needed.

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3. Casa del Cioccolato, Perugia, Italy

Chocoholics always remember their first 'kiss' or Baci – the famous Italian chocolate that has a heart of gianduia (a luscious blend of chocolate and hazelnut cream), smothered in silky dark chocolate and crowned with a whole hazelnut.

Back being made (perugina.com)

Casa del Cioccolato in Perugia is where all those kisses are created and Baci lovers are invited to tour the factory and even make their very own Baci at La Scuola del Cioccolato. If you're more a lover than a maker, fear not. Silver trays laden with Baci are dotted strategically along the route of the tour for you to steal a kiss or three!

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4. The streets of Oaxaca, Mexico

The ancient Mesoamericans were the world’s first chocolatiers and the residents of Oaxaca have embraced chocolate as a part of their culture. You can't walk down the street without being offered hot chocolate, chocolate pastry or chocolate sweets. You can even order chicken with a chocolate mole sauce.

Beans roasting in Oaxaca (Shutterstock.com)Cocoa beans roasting in Oaxaca (Shutterstock.com)

Moyordomo, Guelaguetza and La Soledad are the three largest chocolate producers in the city and you'll find them on 20 de Noviembre street. There are barrels of cocoa beans outside nearly every doorway on Mina Street too. But for a real treat, head to the city markets and sample the handmade chocolates created by small, independent vendors, The person you're buying your mouthful of heaven from probably ground and mixed it themselves.

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5. La Cité du Chocolat, Tain L’Hermitage, France

Ready to turn your passion for chocolate into something more? Then you need to get yourself to Tain L’Hermitage, a small town in the heart of French wine country that is home to world-renowned chocolate producer, Valrhona.

Cité du Chocolat (www.citeduchocolat.com)

With strict EU hygiene rules making factory tours increasingly difficult, the company created 'La Cité du Chocolat', which offers a detailed overview of chocolate and how it is made. But it is the attached Valrhona Ecole du Grand Chocolat that is of most interest. This school teaches professional chefs, chocolatiers and caterers from across Europe and offers a three-day course for amateurs.

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6. Haigh’s Chocolates, Adelaide, Australia

Founded in 1915, Haigh's is Australia’s oldest family-owned chocolate factory. They pride themselves on using only the very best ingredients – sourcing their own premium cocoa beans – and employing some of Australia's most skilled chocolatiers.

Chocolate novelties (haighschocolates.com.au) 

The factory is located on the edge of Adelaide's stunning parklands. Visitors can watch Haigh's team of confectioners using meticulous artisan skills to create and hand finish chocolates as well as sample them at the end of the tour. Make sure you try one of their famous chocolate frogs. They're awesome. 

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7. Rabat Estate, St Lucia

The setting of the cacao plantation on the Rabat Estate setting is stunning: rainforest stretches into the distance, studded with the gigantic peaks of Mount Gimie and plunging valleys. Right behind you is the Soufrière volcano and its therapeutic sulphur springs.

Hotel Chocolate, St Lucia (www.hotelchocolat.com)

The hotel on the estate is similarly stunning, but as a chocolate lover the 'Tree to Bar' experience will interest you most. The experience starts with a walk through the estate's cocoa groves selecting ripe cacao pods, and ends with making your own chocolate bar from beans that you've roasted yourself. 

The tour includes all of the stages in between: seedling nursery, fermenting room, sun-drying station, grinding, mixing and lots of tasting! At the end of the experience you will be an expert on all things chocolate – a true chocoholic.

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Main image:  Chocolate heart (Shutterstock.com)