For the eight years that we have been coming here, Vaison has had one gourmet chocolate shop. There are, of course, chocolates made and sold at some of the bakeries/patisseries and there is the Comptoir de Mathilde which is a franchise and to my way of thinking a tourist shop.
Peyrerol has been the gourmet chocolate shop in town since it opened in 1998. The chocolates are excellent and always presented in creative ways. For instance, we took a fish made of dark chocolate and painted silver to our friends to celebrate “Poisson d’avril” (fish of April) which is the French version of April Fool’s Day. At Easter, the shop was filled with gorgeous creations of eggs, bunnies and bells (in Europe, Easter goodies are delivered by the bells of Rome). The store has earned the respect of the people in town. When one takes a gift in the distinctive black and red Peyerol bag, the recipient is always delighted and knows that the gift is special. Peyerol has been synonymous with gourmet chocolate in Vaison and has been the best place to buy high-quality chocolate and chocolate creations.
Until now... “There’s a new kid in town...” Renting space in a newly renovated shop and situated right around the corner from Peyerol is Jeff de Bruges.
Jeff de Bruges is a franchise gourmet chocolate shop. I first heard about the chocolate shop twenty years ago when a Lansing friend asked us to bring some Jeff de Bruges chocolate back to the states for his wife. As the name suggests, it is Belgian chocolate (a hands-down favorite of my brother-in-law.) I don’t know when the company got so big but there are now Jeff de Bruges shops all over France.
This new store has me sitting on the horns of a dilemma. (A very uncomfortable place to sit!) On the one hand, I find myself feeling somewhat chauvinistic and protective and thus thinking that our store (Peyrerol) is enough - thank you very much - and I don’t want this franchise crowding the playing field. On the other hand, I love chocolate and am interested in tasting whether Jeff de Bruges is still as good as I remember. On the other hand, I always prefer locally-owned. And on the other hand, can there ever be too much chocolate?