Sunday, 16 June 2013

Bernachon Lyon: What Chocolate Dreams Are Made Of

I have dreamed of Bernachon for years ever since I've read about their chocolates from pastry chef and blogger extraordinaire David Lebovitz's blog. Bernachon is Lyon's most famous chocolatier and chocolate maker. What sets it apart is that they roast their own cacao beans, that is, unlike other chocolate shops which buy chocolate blocks and just mold them or turn them into their creations, Bernachon buys cocoa beans and does all the processing to turn the beans into their world renowned chocolates. And they've been doing this long before the bean to bar craze in chocolates became fashionable.

There was only one problem about my obsession with Bernachon: I lived in the Far East and Bernachon was only available in Lyon, France and at the famous Parisian candy shop of Denise Acabo, L"Etoile D'Or. Bernachon still don't sell their premium chocolates outside of these two shops in France. And so imagine how giddy it is to finally find myself in Europe, only an hour and a half away from Lyon. That impossible dream was almost within reach.

I was in Lyon for exactly 48 hours this weekend. I cancelled some plans -- the river cruise, an afternoon at the Parc de la Tete d'Or, because it was really hard to cram so many activities in two days. And did I mention that it was glaring hot in Lyon this weekend? The temperature was 32 degrees Celsius from 6 AM to 8 PM!

If there was one thing that was non-negotiable though, it was a visit to Bernachon. And so I did, went out of Bernachon almost 50€ poorer but exponentially happier. First, although the shop itself is very classy and a bit intimidating, not to mention the intimidating prices of the chocolates, it was a great surprise to find the attendants very warm and friendly. As I was going out of the shop with my purchases, the attendant who served me even said, in English, "Please be careful as it's unusually hot today" then she sent me off with a warm smile. Lovely service!

I got these for myself. Yes, for myself only! Forgive my selfishness, but I will not share my Bernachon stash even if you bribe me with money.

This small box containing their bestselling pralines and ganaches cost 24€. You see the chocolate rounds with sparkling specks? That's their world famous Palet D'Or. Small disks containing the creamiest, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate center. Out-of-this-world chocolateness with bits of real gold. So rich, it almost seems illegal! I ate one Palet D'or yesterday, and my thought was, how can something that's not too sweet taste sooo damn good? Isn't chocolate by any other taste just plain chocolate? How come this is so mind blowingly delicious? I now understand why people are willing to troop to Lyon and pay such prices for a piece of chocolate.

If the pralines and Palet D'Or are expensive at Bernachon, perhaps a better value buy, in terms of prices, are the chocolate bars which sell for 6€ each. There are a lot of bar flavors to choose from and you can get either milk chocolate or dark chocolate variants. But Bernachon is famous for their dark chocolates (55-60% dark). That and because I don't really like milk chocolates made me choose these bars:

Today, after I arrived in Madrid, I went straight to tackling house chores-- washed the dirty dishes I left, cleaned the house, did the laundry and prepared my office outfits for next week. I told myself, now I earned the right to open one of my precious bars. Yes, I admit, I deserve an A+ for rationalizing my gluttony haha! Truth is I was just actually excited to try if the bars are as good as the Palet D'Or.

My first Bernachon Bar: Orange

See the splats on the bars? That's orange essence oozing out of the chocolate bar.

Bernachon chocolates are not really sweet. Sure they have sugar or some sort of sweetener but it is not sweetness that hits you first. It's that creamy, full flavor of chocolateness. It's so smooth and chocolatey, I think one could eat one bar and not feel guilty because your tastebuds don't get bombarded by the sweet taste of sugar.

Now about the Orange Bar, well, kudos for such delicious orange flavor! Those chunks of orange jelly and a sort of citron syrup running through. The orange essence is unmistakable. I never did like orange flavored chocolates because they often turn out to taste a bit artificial, but this one, this orange bar was thoroughly enjoyable.

I still have a few bars and my precious box of Palet D'Or and pralines to comfort me in times of sadness. They will also be my little rewards in times of triumph. But this I hope, that I get to visit Lyon again before these run out!

So yes, this isn't exactly an objective review of Bernachon chocolate. I'm sorry if you were misled. Forgive me for gushing like a crazed woman who finally found her dreams. In a way it is like that. Bernachon was and still is what my chocolate dreams are made of.

42 Cours Franklin-Roosevelt, Lyon France

If you take the Metro in Lyon, get off at Foch Station and walk five minutes towards Garibaldi and you'll see Bernachon.
Bernachon is actually two shops, the first is a sit-down restaurant which serves meals and their famous pastries (be warned that you need reservations to sit here, when I went there, there was a long list of tourists waiting to be seated ), right beside it is the Chocolate Shop where you can get your chocolates and a few of the pastries offered at the restaurant.


  1. oh lawd. I still have to go to Lyon to get one then. haha!

  2. If I can go back to Lyon before Christmas, I'll get pabilis for Bernachon :-) Will bring them to Pinas when I go home in Dec :-) *fingers crossed!*


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