On Monday we drove to Aix to pick up our nephew, Mercer, and his girlfriend, Sarena. I’ve been so excited about them coming to spend some time with us here!! Since they had spent a few days in Aix, we wanted to plan a day of new, fun activities to do with them, and I found that there’s a chocolate factory a few kilometers away – now THAT sounded like a fun way to spend some time!!

I made reservations for us to take a tour of the factory at 2:00, and made noon reservations for lunch at a restaurant a few minutes away, and we picked up Merc and Sarena around mid-morning. Oh, it was SO good to see them!!

We drove to Puyricard, which is where the chocolate factory is, and found a café where we could just sit and spend some time catching up before lunch. Merc and Sarena have both just secured new jobs, and will be moving from Houston to Seattle after they get back from France, so we had lots to talk about! They are excited about their new adventures, and I’m excited for them! It sounds like they’ve made some great decisions, and will be in a really good place, both figuratively and literally,  for the next chapter of their lives.

Anyway, on to lunch! It was an absolutely beautiful day – by far the warmest we’ve had, and we were able to sit out on the patio at the restaurant, without sweaters, and enjoy a delicious, leisurely French lunch. When the waiter asked if we wanted dessert, I told him that no, we were headed to the chocolate factory, to which he replied that I’m right to skip dessert here!!

A few minutes and we were there! We were going to be taking this tour in French with a group of 14 other people, all French. The contact person, Melody, who was also our tour guide, apologized, and told me that if I had been able to make the arrangements sooner, she might have been able to organize an English tour for us. Oh well, this was the best we could do at this time, and she did offer that if we had any questions, please not to hesitate to ask them in English (hers is excellent!) and she’d be happy to answer.

The tour was amazing! These are truly handcrafted chocolates, using machines only to mix, and to make the molds, etc., but these chocolates are definitely made mostly by hand. We were suited up in white paper-ish smocks and hair nets, and we got to see the whole process for several kinds of chocolates. And, perhaps more importantly, we got to taste many of the chocolates! Ooooolala! It was fascinating and fun. And delicious!! The whole floor of the factory is covered with shavings and scraps of chocolate, and I told one of the ladies that I’d be licking my shoes when I got home!

In reality, if you can believe it, in the course of the two hour tour I had so much chocolate that I didn’t want any more! Now that’s a lot of chocolate!! But I did want to buy some to take home, as I knew that my overload would eventually wear off! This company (http://chocolaterie.puyricard.fr/?___store=corporate_en) controls the quality so carefully that there are only 16 stores, all in France, where they sell their chocolates. Four are in Paris, and the rest in the south of France. And they will not sell a chocolate that is over three weeks old. They do ship, but only to EU countries, I think. Anyway, it behooved me to get to the store in Puyricard (we were at the factory, 5 minutes from the store) and buy me some chocolates!!

We followed one of the French group (turned out she works in the store!) to the store, and I tried to decide what to buy. What an amazing selection!! The clerk behind the counter was very helpful, and I finally commissioned her to put together a box for me. Isn’t it beautiful?

My beautiful box of chocolates

Anyway, it was a fantastic experience, even if we couldn’t understand everything Melody said. As she had said to me, the main thing was using the senses to enjoy the experience. I think we were successful on that score!!