Published on 4 May 2020
Reading time: 4 minutes
Holidays are meant to be a time for indulgence. Well, you’ve heard of wine tours and culinary travel, why not chocolate tourism? Meet Marc Cluizel, the manager of the chocolate factory he opened with his wife Marcelle back in 1947, in Damville in the Eure department of Normandy. A must for chocolate lovers and anyone with a sweet tooth.
What makes the Cluizel factory so special?
“Contrary to popular belief, chocolatiers do not make their own chocolate: they purchase it raw, liquid. The production process – from the fruit, the cocoa bean – is very complex. We use a high-performance tool that allows us to make products that no one else in the world is capable of making. Our specificity lies in the fact that we think differently: we manually conceive a product, and then we design all the tools for its production, it’s a whole new concept.
My pride is that we are today the only family-owned business in the world to manufacture top-of-the-range chocolate for professionals at an international level. All my compeers are multinational companies listed on the stock exchange. Our ethics and work philosophy are very different.
In Damville, I am assisted by a wonderful, skillful team that includes a bunch of young people, but also many older members of staff who take great pleasure in sharing their knowledge and passing on their mastery of chocolate making”.
How did you deal with consumer’s concerns?
“The idea is that if you purchase an expensive, high-end chocolate, there must be good reasons for its cost. I decided to launch a brand in the name of my father, Michel Cluizel, to bring this distinct chocolate excellence to consumers. In 2000, we created a “noble ingredients” quality scheme, a commitment to certify that 100% of our products are GMO-free and without a drop of added flavouring”.
“Hence, the range of flavours of our chocolates are solely linked to the meticulous selection of raw materials as we deal directly with cocoa farmers. Wine is famous for inspiring its devotees to join elaborate tastings, well, we now host chocolate tasting classes in some of our shops too. I have also implemented an original concept with a diversity of quality independent retailers who esteem and highlight our excellency. You can now find a Cluizel Chocolates counter in a range of delicatessens, tea rooms and pastry shops.”
Tell us more about your future plans.
“Exports have tremendously increased and now account for around 1/3 of sales revenues. My ambition is to rapidly bring this figure up to 50%. We also opened a museum in Damville in 2000 for visitors to get a better insight into how chocolates are made. We are currently working with experts to turn it into a truly innovative and interactive educational place”.
“My will is also to develop the successful Michel Cluizel brand. In a world that revolves around communication these days, we are teaming up with Philippe Conticini, one of the world’s most accredited pastry chefs. Our new concept is to market a range of products usually geared towards professionals, under a new label called “secrets for professionals”, allowing all “ordinary” chocolate lovers to make their own desserts… like proper chefs! ”
Facts and figures about Cluizel chocolates:
– 1500 tons of chocolate produced per year
– Since 2012, 5 stores opened in prestigious Parisian locations, two stores in New York, one in Bucharest and 5 counters in France. Cluizel chocolates are available in 50 countries throughout the world.
– 20,000 visitors a year to the Cluizel factory museum in Damville.
– 3 million investment for the forthcoming new museum in Damville
Avenue de Conches
Adult fee: 6,5 €.
Children fee: 4 €.
Free for children under 6 years old
Chocolate Workshop (adults or children)
3 hours workshop: 50 € / person
A fun-packed introduction to the art of chocolate making. Leave the workshop with your own chocolate and a gift!
The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday throughout the year.
The shop is open from Monday to Saturday, except on public holidays.
Chocolate workshops are held on several dates. Please enquire for bookings.