"The bustling exhibition hall is a world away from the experience of tasting
and shopping for chocolate in Paris, the world’s greatest chocolate city. The
French may mock America for being a culture of consumption, but Paris itself
often seems like a shrine to the high-end retail experience. In Paris, chocolate
is marketed with the same whispering reverence usually afforded the expensive
Swiss watch or the Japanese black pearl necklace.
At first glance, the chocolate shops, with their marble counters, luxe wood
cabinetry and liveried attendants, can be intimidating. But chocolate is a
quintessentially democratic pleasure, a breezily nostalgic satisfaction that
brings us all back to the roughly level playing field of childhood delight. More
important, while the dollar’s flaccidity may have postponed your purchase of
that $6,000 Birkin handbag at Hermès, or even that $600 lunch for two at Pierre
Gagnaire, chances are that you can still swing the 2.9 euros needed for a
handsome little box of perfect pavés at Michel Chaudun."
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