As you know, Belgium is famous for its amazing chocolate, amongst other things. This can be seen all over Bruges in the many mouth-watering chocolate shops, but if this isn't enough for you, you can head to the Choco Story Museum.
The museum is located just a three hundred metre walk from the Central Market Place, which is one of the main stops on the bus route from the Bruges train station. The museum is open from 10am until 5pm every day of the year, with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. The entrance for adults is seven Euros, four Euros for children from aged 6 to 11 years and there is no charge for children under six.
We visited the chocolate museum because we'd read in the guide book that there were free samples given out at the end after you watch a demonstration on how they make the chocolate. I realise that the samples aren't really free if you are paying seven Euros to get in and it would be cheaper just to go and pay for chocolate in one of the shops, but it sounded pretty fun and interesting from the guide book description so we thought we'd give it a go. To be honest, I think going to the shops would have been a better way to spend the money.
The museum is located in an old house and goes over four floors. When you go in and pay, you get a little paper guide sheet that directs you around the museum and gives you a little bit of information about what you'll find in each place. There is also a place to hang your coats and things in the entrance which is free - quite handy when you have so many layers from keeping warm outside!
The first floor covers the origins and history of chocolate. The exhibits are pretty dated and simplistic but there is some interesting stuff there none the less. It is however one of those museums where they fill cabinets with lots of trinkets that are loosely connected to the theme and you have to wade through that to find the good stuff. I thought the display that showed the contents of chocolate in a sort of ingredient filled pie chart - it's quite an eye opener, that's for sure!
The next floor covers chocolate in popular culture. Again everything looks quite dated and many of the exhibits were in fact covered in a pretty thick layer of dust. The big display boards that describe the contents are much more modern looking and they are very appealing, particularly for children. A character, unsurprisingly a cartoon cocoa bean, is used throughout to engage younger visitors. The display boards are all in English, Flemish and French.
After this you go down to the ground floor where the smell of chocolate emanating from the kitchen almost makes you forget the rest of the mediocre museum. You go through a few corridors that are lined with sculptures made from chocolate. There are lots of intricate designs that have obviously been made by very talented chocolatiers. There are lots of religious figures sculpted from chocolate here, which I found a little odd. Since the museum has made a conscious effort to appeal to younger visitors, I think it would have perhaps been more appropriate to have some sculptures of things like Disney characters.
After you've studied the sculptures, you go into the kitchen area where you watch a short demonstration. It lasts about fifteen minutes and is conducted in a number of different languages. It is good to see how the chocolate is made, but it is a little tedious to be honest. The chocolate samples that you get during and after the demonstration are absolutely divine though, there really is no other word for it! If you want more, you get buy some in the little gift shop on the way out.
Overall I probably would not recommend the Choco Story unless you really have an interest in the history and origins of chocolate, it does seem to have been created for the sake of it really. Despite the fact that they have tried to liven things up a little bit, there are probably better ways to spend your money.