Salon du Chocolat: Chocolate heaven, diet hell

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Le Salon du Chocolat that takes place annually in Paris is reputedly the world’s largest event dedicated to chocolate. I am a self-confessed chocoholic, so naturally, when I saw images of chocolate éclairs, chocolate cakes, chocolate ice cream, cocoa and well, just plain chocolate speeding past me on the side of numerous Parisian buses, I was more than a little excited.

Held at the Porte de Versailles just outside central Paris, Le Salon du Chocolat hosted 130 000 visitors over 5 days in mid-October, the most visitors in the 16 years it has been running. And no wonder, when for a 12,50 Euro entry fee you can effectively eat as many chocolate testers as you want (trying to avoid looking too greedy), enter competitions, receive discounts and watch a chocolate fashion show. Yes, a chocolate fashion show. Clothes you can eat.

Arriving to see a mass of people jostling to get in the building, I must say, dampened my excitement a little. However, our expectations of chocolate splendour were more than fulfilled in that first moment; we were welcomed by a giant chocolate bear set on a stand embellished with thousands of mini chocolate and marshmallow bears. Despite a large “Do Not Touch” sign kindly translated into English, after numerous efforts we were unable to part the mini bears from their chocolate base, as they were firmly glued on. So with sticky fingers, ever growing chocolate cravings we moved towards to the Gü stand.

Gü set the chocolate bar high in the free tasting stakes; it was not until we had pocketed a goody bag filled with six chocolate pots, two chocolate puddings, two Tiramisu and a large box of Rocky Road (all for ten Euros I might add) that we moved on. It is difficult to express the sheer volume of chocolate that filled the room; huge stacks of the stuff stood everywhere in every flavour, shape and colour conceivable. A two metre high pink chocolate fountain towered above us, glittery chocolates twinkled along with chocolate pumpkins , chocolate pianos, chocolate vegetables, chocolate boobs, yellow chocolate ducks… the list goes on. Despite flavours ranging from sickly sweet caramelchocolate to chocolate made from ninety-nine percent cocoa, the one that took me by surprise was salted caramel. Strangely, the combination touches every single tastebud and leaves your mouth tingling for more. For the even more adventurous, there is chilli chocolate, the sickly sweet and the beautifully bitter battling together; a true match made in heaven.

One stand offered a selection of chocolate flowers, flowers that have perfectly wrapped tiny chocolates dangling enticingly from edible petals – no more bog standard 99p Tesco carnations and Value chocolates. Another invited you to push the boat out withr chocolate wine; admittedly chocolate wine does not sound particularly palatable, but forget the heady taste of what you know as wine and imagine rich, alcoholic, liquid chocolate swirling around your mouth and gliding down your throat. Available in Ivory or Dark, it really is worth a try.

So, feeling a little inspired and very indulgent we decided to try and find a good vantage point for the fashion show. Chocolate beads adorned Charleston dresses, chocolate fans added a hint of glamour, and chocolate corsetry captured the ultimate female hedonism. It was quite fascinating and intriguing – I can only speculate, but the chocolate must be treated in some way so as not to melt. The designs were displayed on mannequins for everyone to see that they really were made out of chocolate. They would not be that practical to wear, but at least you would never be peckish – perhaps chocolate jewellery could really catch on.

Our last impression of Le Salon du Chocolat was the Lindt stall. The infamously mouth-watering Lindt adverts were recreated in front of my eyes, complete with the chocolatier smoothing the velvety chocolate with a decidedly loving touch. And thus, my future career was decided.