À La Mère de Famille (What You Need to Know Before You Go)

One of my first experiences in Paris was visiting À La Mère de Famille on Rue Cler. I learned about this little shop from Rick Steves as I planned my first trip, and I quickly realized this would be a “must-visit” chocolate shop on every trip! When in Paris, go to À La Mère de Famille. It’s quintessentially Parisian, and the chocolate is nothing short of wonderful.

But before you go, there are a few helpful things to know about this chocolatier so that you have the best possible experience. Knowing a few things about this famous chocolatier will help you appreciate what they have to offer.

Exterior of the oldest chocolat shop in Paris, À La Mère de Famille on 35 Rue de Faubourg Montmartre

What is À La Mère de Famille?

This magasin (store) is known as one of the best-quality chocolatiers in Paris. While not as high-end or luxurious as some chocolate shops, À La Mère produces high-quality, irresistible chocolates and confections.

À La Mère de Famille History

À La Mère de Famille is the oldest chocolate shop in Paris, opening in 1761. If you are anything like me, you’ll want to go to their oldest shop on 35 Rue de Faubourg Montmartre, just to experience walking into a store that is nearly 300 years old.

It’s difficult to fathom a 300-year-old store because stores in the US are young by comparison. A store like À La Mère de Famille is special because generations of its owners have dedicated their lives to a tradition of excellence as chocolatiers.

When you walk into their oldest shop, you can feel the beautiful belle époque history around you. The inside and outside of this store are pure magic. From the deep green exterior with gilded gold lettering to the beautiful cream and brown-tiled floor with a gold and wood interior, this shop is not to be missed.

Inside the oldest chocolat shop in Paris, À La Mère de Famille on 35 Rue de Faubourg Montmartre

Plan at least thirty minutes to visit their oldest shop. There are many delicious chocolates, candies, and treats to explore, and the window displays are beautiful as well.

Family-Owned

Originally opened in 1761 by Pierre Jean Bernard, A La Mere de Famille began with a different name. For obvious reasons, the owner called it “Maison Bernard”.

The name was changed to À La Mère de Famille around 1807 when one of his widowed descendants took over the shop. One of the most interesting facts about this shop is that it has been passed down from one family to another. The A La Mère company has never been owned or run by a big corporation.

In fact, it was passed through the family line of Jean Bernard to his son-in-law, Jean-Marie Bridault, and then it passed down through his family line for decades.

Today, the business is owned by the Dolfi brothers and sisters (a French family), and they are taking great care to ensure that À La Mère de Famille continues its history of excellence.

Chocolate Made in-House

Case of chocolates at À La Mère de Famille
Chocolates and Bonbons

One of the unique things about A La Mere is that they make their own chocolates. Some of the work is done by hand in their factory in Tours, which is less common in this modern world of technology and industry.

They are also very particular about selecting the best cocoa bean farmers around the world. They buy cacao beans from producers in different regions so that their chocolates have different flavors and profiles. A La Mere de Famille also sources its ingredients responsibly.

The Store Continues

Today, À La Mère de Famille has 12 shops in Paris. The Dolfi family also now owns, Stohrer, the oldest patisserie in the city. This is pretty neat considering that they now own the oldest chocolate shop and oldest pâtisserie in Paris.

If you can’t make it to 35 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, visit one of their other 11 shops. As a recommendation, another personal favorite shop is their Rue Cler location, not too far from the Eiffel Tower.

What to Buy at À La Mère

Chocolate

A La Mère makes classic chocolate bars, such as milk chocolate, white chocolate, and dark chocolate, but they offer so much more at their shops!

I can still remember my first bite of the first chocolate bar I bought from À La Mère de Famille. The small bar was studded with dried fruit and candied nuts. It was so perfectly balanced in terms of flavor and texture, and it is one of my favorite chocolates from Paris to this day! 

This confection is, for me, one of the highlights of their shop.

Chocolate bars with dried fruit and candied nuts at A La Mere de Famille
My favorite chocolate bars with nuts and dried fruit, shown on the bottom left.

You can also buy stacks of chocolate wafers in little containers, which is a great way to try several chocolate flavors without having to buy big bars.

In addition, A La Mere de Famille sells chocolate-covered citrus peel, gourmet chocolates filled with praline, ganache, chocolate-covered almonds , and molded chocolates (think bunnies and animals for holidays).

If you want a fun chocolate treat to bring back for children, À La Mère has cute chocolate lollipops that look like woodland animals. They are called “Sucettes,” meaning lollipops.

Other Sweets

In addition to their fabulous chocolate selection, you may get swept up in their beautiful array of old-fashioned candy, house-made caramels, and pâte de fruits. In reality, it would be difficult to walk out of any À La Mère de Famille shop in Paris without buying something!

If you are lucky to visit one of their larger shops, you can buy whole candied clementines. This is quite a treat, and it is something special and unique that you won’t find in many other places.

Old-Fashioned Candy at A La Mere de Famille
Old-Fashioned Candies

Pâte d’Amande

À La Mère also sell beautifully crafted pâte d’amande in the shape of animals, seasonal fruits, and vegetables. All of the creations are colorful and look delicious. Even if you don’t buy the almond treats, it’s still worth looking at them to see the artistic talent that goes into making each one.

Prices at À La Mère de Famille

I like to think of Parisian chocolate in 4 price categories:

  1. Painfully expensive (but usually worth it)
  2. Pricey, but doable (doesn’t make you hold your breath)
  3. Mid-tier, (you won’t think about the cost too much)
  4. Cheap (often grocery store chocolate bars, which are still good, and a no-brainer.)

A La Mere de Famille falls in the mid-tier price range. It won’t break the bank, but it’s not the cheapest chocolate either. You’ll find good-quality, less expensive chocolate.

pâte de fruits and caramels at À La Mère de Famille
Pâte de Fruits and Caramels

If you intend to bring chocolate gifts home to friends and family, this is the chocolatier I’d recommend.

If I had to choose a few things to buy from À La Mère, I’d tell you to buy chocolate bars with candied nuts and dried fruit, sucettes, a few caramels, and some of the old-fashioned candies.

How to Take Chocolate Home Through Customs

Chocolate is one of the easiest souvenirs to take home through customs. As long as the chocolate bars (and candies) are solid, you don’t have to pack them in any special way.

If you buy jars of caramel or spreads, these need to go into your checked bag.

One word of advice: Take your solid chocolates on the airplane in your carry-on bag. They are far less likely to get smashed or broken in your carry-on than in a checked bag.

candied clementines at À La Mère de Famille
Candied Clementines and Other Candied Treats

Shopping Etiquette at À La Mère de Famille

When you visit Paris, be aware that shopping etiquette is different from many other countries. If you want to have the best experience, be mindful of the cultural differences.

When you walk into any À La Mère shops, greet the shop keeper by saying, “Bonjour!”. You are essentially walking into their house, so always say hello.

When you browse, it’s okay to pick up a container or two of candies but avoid excessively picking up the boxes of chocolate or other chocolate treats. Because chocolate is affected by the warmth of your hands, it’s best not to touch unless you intend to buy.

Succettes, or chocolate lollipops shaped like woodland animals at A La Mere de Famille

For example, when I bought animal chocolate lollipops, I picked them up by the stick to examine the characters because I wanted to pick certain ones for my children. I never picked up the sucettes by the chocolate lollipop, as this would have been a no-no!

And if you want help with something that is in a jar (such as candied clementines), ask for help. Do not help yourself unless there is a sign indicating that you are able to do so.

Paris is a city filled with noteworthy chocolate shops, but none have the character, history, or charm of À La Mère de Famille. You’ll experience old-world Paris at its best in one of the finest chocolatiers in the city.

pinterest pin of a la mere de famille showing the exterior of the building and chocolates in the shop

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*