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Three Parisian paths to bliss

A mission to find the best chocolat chaud in Paris.

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Sitting under the green awnings of Les Deux Magots, reveling in the long history of literary patrons who frequented one of the Left Bank's most famous cafes – Oscar Wilde, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Ernest Hemingway, among others – we said to ourselves, "if only we had something as important to write about as they did."

Then it came.

Our orders of hot chocolate – chocolat chaud – arrived alongside a delectable herbes-de-Provence omelet. Pouring the thick, brown elixir out of a perfect china pitcher – and tasting its explosion of cocoa essence – we agreed on a mission: Find the most sublime chocolat chaud in Paris.

Ten days later, we would sit in these same two chairs, with our ever-expanding ratings chart (intensity, texture, consistency, flavor, sweetness, bouquet) and realize a mission accomplished.

Scouring the restaurant and cafe guides, interviewing patrons and cafe owners, visiting the best in Paris (Fauchon's, Fouquet's, Maxim's, Café Florio, and more) – and, most important, tasting these heady, mousse-thick brews ourselves – we had our answer, loud and clear and unanimous.

"Ladurée," said one, mentioning the pastry shop on Rue Bonaparte.

"Café Angelina's," said the other, mentioning her best friend's recommendation from Rue de Rivoli.

Well, we proved at least that consensus is impossible where taste is concerned. We thought of backtracking for a second sip of each to settle it. But our time was up so we had to move on, back to the United States, where hot chocolate is just another hot beverage.


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