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January 6, 2019

France: Tain-l’Hermitage, Valrhona’s Cité du Chocolat


Chocolate that looks almost too good to eat.

We visited in Tain-l’Hermitage, along the Rhône River, in May of 2018. The complex is essentially a discovery museum for the Valrhona chocolate brand. Displays describe the history of Valrhona and the steps in sourcing and producing the company’s chocolate. It is reasonably well done and undoubtedly a destination for chocoholics.

With the admission price comes access to numerous free chocolate samples. Despite the glitzy displays and the numerous types of chocolate available I didn’t find a type of chocolate that I really cared for. Valrhona would likely to be disappointed to hear that a visitor came away from the Cité du Chocolat with the conclusion that he didn’t really much care for Valrhona’s chocolate, but so it was.

Bins of chocolate samples

The empty commercial barge Pampero moves down the Rhône River between Tain-l’Hermitage and Tournon-sur-Rhône to the Mediterranean to pick up its next load of vinyl chloride.

It was not for the lack of trying. The route through Cité du Chocolat exits through the gift shop. If you didn’t get enough chocolate from the museum’s displays you can get even more from the free sample bins in the shop. Indeed, those uninterested in the museum can go directly to the gift shop and eat more chocolate samples than is healthy for free.

By the time I reached the gift shop I had enough chocolate. Becky didn’t. The bottomless bins of chocolate wafers were irresistible to her. If I hadn’t acted quickly and physically removed her from the shop she would undoubtedly been left in a quivering mass on the floor, a victim of a nasty chocolate overdose.

Death by chocolate: It’s not pretty.

Becky working towards an overdose

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