Ever been tempted to eat your own clothes? You would if you were wearing a chocolate dress. We glimpse a preview of Salon du Chocolat.
It could be heaven - in every direction trays are piled high with truffles, pralines and broken slabs of chocolate. The hands holding the trays push them towards the people walking past, encouraging them to take and taste. But actually this isn't heaven (not literally anyway) - it's an exhibition centre on the outskirts of Brussels, the capital of a country famed for its chocolate. Home to more than 200 shops selling chocolate goodies, Brussels also boasts a chocolate museum and the newly opened, interactive "Belgian Chocolate Village" housed in the old Godiva factory.
This week, from February 6th - 8th 2015, the exhibition centre is home again to the annual Brussels Salon du Chocolat. The original grand chocolate exhibition began in Paris 21 years ago, where it is still the largest in the world, covering 20,000 sq m, and is now held annually in multiple cities around the world. At 4,000 square metres the newer Brussels edition might be smaller but it will quickly leave you incapable of consuming any more chocolate if you accept every sample offered. More than 70 exhibitors will fill the room to tempt you to part with your pocket money for their pralines or perhaps a single origin, high percentage, made-at-source chocolate bar.
Each day the centre stage of the exhibition comes alive with live music and a fashion show where all the outfits are made of chocolate. Yes, actual chocolate. These handcrafted collaborations between designers and master chocolatiers are worn by models found in that unfortunate torturous state, otherwise known as *'temptation to eat your own clothes'*. Somehow the outfits still remain almost entirely intact by the end of the show.
Throughout the three days there are also demonstrations, talks and guided tastings led by chefs, experts and chocolatiers and from 11am each day a kids world provides activities for little ones aged between 4 - 10 years.
Tickets to Salon du Chocolat are 8.50 Euros in advance or 10 Euros on the door, 5 Euros for children.
For more information, visit:
Other chocolatey things to do in Brussels...
**Behold a real cocoa tree**
There is more than enough to keep you entertained at the exhibition but if you're hankering to see a real cocoa tree whilst you’re in town, take a short taxi ride to the brand new Belgian Chocolate Village (8 Euros for adults, 5 Euros for children). The central courtyard contains an equatorial climate and several cocoa trees alongside several other species they would naturally grow with, like a mini Caribbean oasis. Visiting here has the added benefit of being able to truly forget you’re in the middle of the long European winter for a few minutes.
**Shop the chocolate box boutiques**
If you brave the chilly, but oh so pretty, streets of central Brussels and find that your newly-raised chocolate levels are running low, stop and take a seat in the boutique of Laurent Gerbaud, Pierre Marcolini or Wittamer for one of their rich hot chocolates, made with real chocolate and frothed with milk into luscious indulgence to fortify you.
**Get all mapped out**
Visit Flanders recently released wonderful maps that fold small enough to fit in your pocket, with one focusing on chocolate, one on sweet treats in general and one for beer as well. You can pick them up or in a local tourist office for 50 cents each. Armed with one of these maps, deliciousness is easy to find wherever you are in Brussels.
**Written by:** Jennifer Earle