Practically dancing as I left Stop #5: Pierre Marcolini, thanks to the disco ball and the “wink,” I twisted and twirled my way right across the street and into the Grand Sablon. It was beautiful – from the statuary, to the perfectly coiffed gardens, to the enormous old church – the Église Notre Dame du Sablon.
come on in.
I decided to take a short break from the tour, and explore the grounds. The light dusting of snow really made it all the more magical.
stone cold and lovely.
It didn’t hurt that I appeared to be the only person walking the grounds. I guess I get up earlier than most tourists. I crossed over to take a few shots of the front of the church, and while doing so, I was stopped by a woman and asked for directions – in French. I guess I didn’t look like a tourist after all.
Eglise Notre Dame du Sablon.
At this point, I realized I had no idea where I was going myself, so I broke out the map and tried to find my next destination:
Stop #6: Passion Chocolat.
I totally could not find this place. I thought at first I must have passed it and didn’t realize, so I back tracked down the road I had just come from. Nothing. I started wondering if in fact it was located on the other side of the Sablon, so I walked around the church, and headed back down the other side, but not before capturing my favorite picture from the entire trip – the picture I felt captured the classy and whimsical vibe of the city of Brussels – a red plastic tree “growing” in the small side yard of the old the Église.
i could live here.
The universe must have meant for me to see that image, because immediately after I snapped the photo, I turned around and there was Passion Chocolat, right behind me. I swear it wasn’t there before. How could I have missed it, with its giant red and gold pyramid at the entrance!
I walked in, and it was small. And bright. But warm. I liked it. The woman behind the counter was unpacking boxes (I think I may have been the first customer – I swear it was not THAT early). She stood up and came over when I walked in and said “Bonjour” and asked if I she could help me (in French). I said “Bonjour” back, trying to be polite, and she then launched into something fast and French that I couldn’t understand. I then said, “Je ne parle pas francais,” to which she replied, in English, “you should have said that up front! How was I to know you did not speak French!” She wasn’t necessarily angry or rude, but she did seem to be in a bit of huff, as if this happens often. It took everything in my power not to giggle. I decided to focus intently on the task at hand, which was to select some chocolates for my taste-testing journey.
little shop of chocolate.
The very first chocolate that caught my eye was a white chocolate pyramid – a small, edible version of the one outside the entrance. I definitely had to get that. I came to find out later there was a hazelnut ganache on the inside. Mmm hmmm. I selected a few others – one that looked like a chocolate covered orange slice, one dark chocolate with small coconut flakes on top, and a couple more that appealed to me. She packed them in a dainty little bag (similar to the ones I saw in some of the shops the day before – these must be the prime packaging for chocolates in Brussels), and I grabbed a business card, paid and was on my way. I have to say, their logo was definitely my favorite – it fit the name perfectly.
it’s all about branding.
I ate the pyramid first, and it was perfect. As a lover of white chocolate, it actually wound up being my singular favorite piece on the tour. The others were delicious too, but the pyramid really made the grade. If I were to create my perfect piece of chocolate, that pyramid would be it.
a wonder of the chocolate world.
Hang in there and keep on keepin’ on to the next stop on the tour, which, was literally a hop skip and a jump away – Stop #7, Wittamer: where chocolate fantasies come true…