Chocolaterie Letuffe Trois Palais
Chocolaterie Letuffe is legend round these parts. You will find it in a village called ‘Trois Palais’ nestling on the north side of the Charente Valley west of Angouleme. Letuffe’s is an old established family firm that has been pandering to the French obsession with good chocolate for a long time now. However just saying that Letuffe does good chocolate is a bit like saying Leonardo was a good painter or Napoleon a good general; true but not informative.
Letuffe’s Chocolate is actually very good. They say it’s because they are ‘artisans’ of chocolate and not manufacturers. ‘Artisan’ is a deeply French idea about skills and respect and understanding, craft and experience and tradition. At Letuffe’s they certainly know lots about chocolate and they are happy to share some of that knowledge with you. You will learn about the raw materials and how they are sourced and some of the history too.
We like to visit sometimes just for the sights and the fragrances but you can have much so more fun if you go on one of their courses. You can spend a couple of hours learning how to handle the chocolate yourself. You get to work hands-on, as they say “supervised and guided by passionate professionals”! They promise to teach you some of the tricks of the trade and afterwards you can take away what you make and enjoy it at your leisure.
Letuffe’s is one of the best artisanal chocolate makers round here and there are loads of others, each with their own specialities and reputation. Many small towns have their hand made chocolate shops – our local town La Rochefoucauld is actually blessed with three so chocoholics at L’Age Baston luckily don’t have to travel too far for a fix of the good stuff!
The Chocolaterie Letuffe makes a good half-day visit and we often make it part of the itinerary for the L’Age Baston French Country Cooking Courses. Partners and friends can also make it part of a whole day out and combine it with a half day in Angouleme or Cognac.
They could equally well explore the ‘Village of the Gabariers’ at St Simon and include a trip on the River Charente in one of the old ‘Gabares’. These flat-bottomed sailing barges used to carry cannon, cognac, salt, and all the goods that were traded in and out to the coastal ports until the railways came and the River Charente went quiet again. The river trip is a great way to see the area and to appreciate the long history of what King Francois 1st called “the most beautiful river in my kingdom”.
At the end of a full day you can return to the comfort and security of Château L’Age Baston for a well earned rest, a four-course dinner and the sleep of the just.