Halloween in Paris

Paris may be home to one of the spookiest places I’ve ever been, the bone-filled catacombs, but the city offers little  in the way of Halloween fun. Sure, a few of the patisseries have pumpkin-themed treats in the window. But tarte à la citrouille hardly makes up for the absence of trick-or-treating as far as my school-aged children are concerned.

Catacombs Paris

Luckily, yesterday marked the opening of the nineteenth annual “Salon du Chocolat” in Paris, a 20,000 square-meter exhibition attended by the finest chocolatiers from France and beyond. The event includes luxury Paris brands like Chocolats Jean Charles Rochoux; prestigious holders of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France like Chocolaterie Joël Patouillard; celebrated visitors like Es-Koyama from Japan; and concessions representing the nations where chocolate is grown, like Ghana, Gabon, and Côte d’Ivoire. Best of all there are free samples. Attending the salon is like trick-or-treating but better, since instead of collecting a plastic bag filled with Dum Dums and Laffy Taffy you get a bellyful of gourmet chocolate.

More than a bellyful really, I had to stop accepting free samples after our first hour at the salon this morning. What a relief that Brûlerie Caron was on hand selling excellent espresso to restore my equilibrium. The children had a lot more staying power than I did. I tried to remind my daughter of the Halloween two years ago that ended in the unfortunate expulsion of a gummy bear-studded chocolate soup on the bathroom floor. But she was hearing nothing of it. Taking only a few breaks to watch demonstrations by the expert chocolatiersconfiseurs, and pâtissieres in the show kitchens, we spent over three hours eating our way around the exhibition hall.

This gastronomaganza has left me so speechless I am forced to resort to pictures to recount the sights:

There were chocolate sculptures large

Chocolate plane

and small (the kids were especially into this chocolate treasure box filled with macarons).

chocolate treasure chest

There was even healthy food, if chocolate vegetables count:

Chocolate vegetabes

There was an amazing chocolate carousel by Les Marquis de Ladurée

Les Marquis de Ladurée

There were towers of macarons

tour macaron

flowing walls of chocolate

Flowing wall of chocolate

and chocolate dresses from a couture show on opening night:

Chocolate couture

Here is a Video of the fashion show.

Karen Finley it was not. If there was anything grotesque about the show it was the over abundance. I was surprised they hadn’t outfitted the bathrooms as vomitoria to make it easier to eat more free samples. Seriously, I was surprised I didn’t see anyone (by which I mean my children) vomiting. The little Cleves have weak bellies. But all was happy and good. Each kid had some pocket money to buy treats to bring home. And I’ve heard only the barest minimum of complaints about having to miss Halloween this year.

Karen Finley, "We Keep Our Victims Ready" (1989)
Karen Finley, “We Keep Our Victims Ready” (1989)

Happy trick-or-treating!

Author: Rachel Hope Cleves

Professor of history at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. Author of Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America (2014), and The Reign of Terror in America (2009). My new book about the notorious writer, Norman Douglas, will be out in October 2020. Now working on a project titled "Good Food, Bad Sex."

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