At Tain-L’Hermitage, the Cité du chocolat, a tasting initiation into the Valrhona sanctuary
The famous chocolatier offers a tasting and sensory initiation into the world of chocolate, by transforming its historic location into a meeting place entirely dedicated to cocoa.
In October 2013, after more than seven years of studies and development, on the location of its old chocolate factory at Tain-l’Hermitage, Valrhona has opened a space of 2,000m2 of immersion into the world of chocolate.
A red line: ‘The taste, the skill and the material’
Visitors are invited to experiment with the richness of chocolate by learning all its secrets, from the art of manufacture to the intimate knowledge of its subtleties.
On the ground floor, an itinerary takes people to six distinct spaces whose scenography has been carefully studied.
The adventure begins in the ‘Carré des Sens’ (Square of Senses), where one has to look, listen, touch, smell and taste chocolate. The complexity of subtle flavours awakens the senses and entices visitors to learn more about their preparation.
This curiosity is satisfied in the ‘Comptoir des Recettes’(Recipe Counter), where the production secrets of Valrhona chocolate are unveiled: the ingredients and proportions, with classic ingredients or more original items. People can also test themselves by identifying the products used simply by tasting.
Next up are ‘Les Plantations de Cacao’(Cacao Plantations), a digital voyage into the cultures of cocoa beans, via screens installed on cocoa tree trunks.
Next is a journey into ‘La Chocolaterie’ (Chocolate Factory), where it’s possible to see behind the scenes of the workshop and talk to the master roasters, coaters and assemblers.
The experience continues in ‘L’Espace des Chefs’ (Chef’s Space), where people can step into the shoes of a pastry and chocolate chef by copying their movements on an interactive screen.
In ‘l’Atelier du Chocolat’ (Chocolate Workshop), there are animations offered by professionals in the field, on how to become an expert in coating, ganache and praline.
A source of life and interaction
In 2016 a new floor opened to top off this setting by honouring young and old, all those who love chocolate and who know how to appreciate it.
In ‘l’Ile O Petits’ (Little Ones’ Island), the youngest customers have a designated play area: touchscreens, games, books and drawing materials, to share and interact with other children while experiencing the sensations of their chocolate discovery.
In ‘l’Univers des chefs’ Chef’s World), people are thrust into the daily life of pastry chefs, chocolatiers and bakers who work with chocolate, by meeting them. The keenest fans can take a course with a chef from l’Ecole Gourmet (Gourmet School), getting tips and advice on how to pull off their creations.
A microcosm signed Valrhona
Also upstairs, the Valrhona saga is told through an exhibition of the company’s history and a signature celebratory film which covers the heritage of the brand, with the men and women who participated in its creation.
For those wanting something to eat, the Porcelana counter offers an indulgent interlude at any time of day, be it a lunch or simply afternoon tea or chocolate.
The store has kept its original location in the heart of the city, just as in the ’50s. Its aisles are, however, much more extensive, to offer the full range of the brand and any new items as a preview, in addition to souvenir products, books and pastry-making utensils.
The Cité du chocolat (City of Chocolate) is the fruit of a project which has been developed over time by Valrhona. This particular location is not simply a museum seeking to inform, but offers a living, multi-sensory learning experience for everyone, which leaves people who visit with a long-lasting impression.
Proof of the success of this business: in the space of three years it has attracted more than 220,000 visitors.
Cité du chocolat Valrhona
12 Avenue du Président Roosevelt,