It might be a bit strange to start at the end, but that’s how I roll! While I catch up on our Brussels trip from back in August, I thought I would start at the end with the Belgium Chocolate Village.
Our AirBnb in Brussels was up to the northern side of the city and we discovered that it was in pretty close proximity to the Belgium Chocolate Village, so it turned out to be the perfect way to start our last day. Bonus, it was included on the Brussels Card, so we had free entry too!
Belgium Chocolate Village
Whether you’re a fan of chocolate or not, you seriously can’t not enjoy the smell that hits you when you enter the museum. Even from the entry, you are treated to the warm scent of chocolate wafting through the air. There is a cloak room so you can shed your coats and bags, which on a last day is so handy! The people on reception programme your interactive audio wand (for want of a better description) and off you go. The audio wand thing is great. Although there is a lot of written information in English, you can get additional details or descriptions by pointing the end of your wand at the symbols on the walls and displays. This meant, for us, that we could take in more information while stepping around the rooms.
As you arrive into the exhibition space and begin your journey, the smell of the warm chocolate increases. To be honest, I did initially think it might be psychosomatic as we were looking at, reading and hearing about so much chocolate! But, no!
The smell was in fact coming from the workshop area where a professional artisan was working at his chocolate craft. Curious as to what he was doing rolling what looked like biscuit crumbs, we got chatting with him. One thing led to another and we were trying a few handmade chocolates and truffles and he invited us back for more when he would be doing a demonstration. How could we resist?
History and Advertising
The museum is really well curated with a good flow of information. The interactive displays let you choose the information you would like to explore more, so you kind of get a more personal experience depending on what you’re looking for. The history and advertising were pretty eye-opening as you learn about how it began being advertised for health benefits and then developing a more child focused style that we know today. There are lots of examples on the walls and even more inside the impressive multi-touch displays.
After sampling some more chocolates in the demonstration we it was time to walk off some of the calories by heading back in time to learn about the plantations, history of growing and see the plants in real life in the hot-house. There is also a great display about the
health benefits effects of chocolate in humans.
Snippet of info
When you buy chocolate that has been made in large batches, they are not going to be as delicious as the ones made in small, regular batches. Why? Because to make the batch bigger and last longer, sugar and salt is added to the mixture which helps to make it last longer. The small batches use the sweetness present in the ingredients. So that is why the real artisan chocolates cost so much more.
To be honest, I had never really given much thought to what Cacao plants looked like until I was in the Belgium Chocolate Village. And that curiosity came from learning about the pod and that it takes five years for it to first fruit. So being able to get up close with them in real life in the hot-house was an interesting experience.
Considering we thought that we would only be at the museum for a very short time, we stayed for over an hour in the end. There is plenty to see, do and experience at the Belgium Chocolate Village and worth the trip up, especially if you need something early to do and you have a Brussels Card.
Just before we left we took a trip up the stairs to visit the cafe and shop. We didn’t have time to stop and it was such a hot day that we didn’t want to risk carrying around and traveling hundreds of miles with fresh chocolate, we just enjoyed it by sight.
If you’re a fan of ho chocolate, then I reckon you will have to make sure you have time to shop here! The menu looked AMAZING!
Overall, the Belgium Chocolate Village exceeded our expectations. It was open earlier than most of the museums (at 9 am) meaning that we could start our day there and still have time to walk to others. It was modern and interactive, including real people as well as automated systems so you could ask questions and get more personal information. The languages covered are really broad and I also got to practice some of my French and Dutch, which was great for me.
Whether you’re a lover of chocolate or not, I think you will enjoy the Belgium Chocolate Museum.
Mmmm, writing that up, I’m remembering the delicious truffles and now crave chocolate… no such luck though, I’ll just have to stick with my burger left overs! (Not that it is a bad thing! It’s VERY good, actually!)
Are you a chocolate fan? Have you ever been to the Belgium Chocolate Village? Or another chocolate museum?
Let me know in the comments.