History of a legend
1977, Robert Linxe would realize his dream somewhat later, when his vision of chocolate finally came to fruition. With his first Maison du Chocolat on Faubourg Saint-Honoré, he established a new spirit and mindset - his own. At 48, he founded La Maison du Chocolat and on October 26, 1977 opened the first boutique dedicated entirely to chocolate in Paris at 225, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, in place and stead of Caves Cosette, across from salle Pleyel.
La Maison du Chocolat has transformed the world of chocolate, introducing vibrant creativity inspired by the vision of founder Robert Linxe, who changed the way chocolate is savoured and enjoyed today. These innovative tastes have revolutionized our palates, elevated ganache to the realm of haute cuisine and revealed the infinite nuances of chocolate - preferably dark - nurturing a refined art of chocolate à la française that has understandably gained a cult following. Thanks to this unique quest for unforgettable taste and elegance, chocolate has joined the realm of all that is exquisitely good and stunningly beautiful. Like all grandes maisons, La Maison du Chocolat sparks dreams and promises unprecedented sensations for the eyes, nose and palate.
Dubbed ‘The Wizard of Ganache’, Robert Linxe elevated chocolate to the rank of an exceptional ingredient. He amplified its subtleties in his ganaches: a filling with a melt-in-your-mouth texture created from fresh cream, coated with a thin layer of chocolate.
One of his secrets was doing what no one had done before, inviting people to discover a different facet of chocolate, not as sweet or candy-like, more adult, liberated from the excesses of sugar and cream. He refined his chocolate assemblages, stabilized the consistency of the signature taste, and in a truly revolutionary approach at the time, insisted on only the finest quality natural ingredients.
1978, his expert touch revealed previously unimagined aromatic subtleties, for the first time associating fruit and infusions with chocolate. Raspberry, mint, lemon and other flavours brought unprecedented subtle scents to his creations.
His many fans owe him a completely reinvented taste of chocolate, the birth of the French passion for dark chocolate, and a singular art of tasting that lets chocolate express its full range of emotion. Chocolate-making began to be compared with making fine wines. Tasting notes were replete with terms like ‘powerful’, ‘roundness’, ‘creamy flavours’, ‘long finish’, ‘mouth-watering tenderness’, ‘smooth’, ‘intense’, ‘full-bodied’… The stage was set.
‘You taste, then you taste again, you savour, waiting patiently for that precise moment when the chocolate becomes absolutely perfect. You have to know how to spot the sometimes very minute difference between good and excellent, and then between excellent and exceptional.’ Robert Linxe
Exceptional was the influence of one chocolatier on so many fellow artisans. The refreshing reinvention of chocolate spawned the Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat and then the Salon du Chocolat trade show, largely inspired by the vision of this uniquely creative talent.
1981, the Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat is created on the initiative of Claude Lebey, Nicolas de Rabaudy, Jean-Paul Aron and two other gourmands, who after having unanimously chosen the Pleyel* cake of Robert Linxe for dessert, got the idea to create this Club. * (chocolate and almond cake).
His idea of refinement extended to the smallest details, and 225 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré became the new temple of chocolate, shaking up the Parisian microcosm. He was avowedly obsessed with triggering a true upheaval, changing the times, upending tradition to better express his forward-thinking tastes. From that point onwards, he never ceased to disrupt the traditional image of sweet shops.
Robert Linxe opened the doors to chocolate for the 20th century and created a boutique that resonated with his groundbreaking beliefs. Meticulous and uncompromising, his standards expressed the personality of a new breed of chocolate, pure and noble, freed from an excessively sweet, cloying taste.
1986, the second boutique of La Maison du Chocolat opened its doors rue François 1er, followed in 1988 by a third boutique on boulevard de la Madeleine.
Robert Linxe saw each instant spent in one of his boutiques as a chance to share the unique experience of enjoying exceptional chocolate for no other reason than sheer ‘gourmand’ pleasure. This convivial ambiance and his enthusiasm established the hallmarks of the ‘house spirit’, a spirit that continues today in a wealth of personal attentiveness, from a warm welcome and introduction to the art of tasting to the perfection of details.
An emphasis on sharing is resolutely focused on transmission and discovery, a state of mind that is an essential part of our heritage, ensuring that the pleasure of tasting chocolate is passed on to each new generation.
1990, One of the first episodes in his international adventure was the opening in 1990 of the first Maison du Chocolat on 73rd Street in New York. After each opening in a new country, the renown of French chocolate grew with culturally decisive impact. Tokyo, London and Hong Kong in turn welcomed their own Maison du Chocolat at prestigious addresses.
For the first time in history, Robert Linxe also made French chocolate the standard of excellence beyond the country’s borders, as he tirelessly promoted his unique savoir-faire around the world. He was the very first to criss-cross the globe to initiate people into the subtleties of exceptional taste. The international renown of French-made chocolate is the result of his efforts. Year after year, he was its best ambassador, travelling to the most remote locations to explain the secrets of a ganache or a praliné. All those who had the chance to be initiated by him into the fine art of chocolate recall the experience with great emotion.
The same year, Robert Linxe pened his first book and introduced his first chocolate éclair. Its reputation has never wavered.
First Salon du Chocolat in Paris. Robert Linxe assumes right from the start the role of “mentor” chocolatier to the founders, Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet, and creates his first dress in chocolate in collaboration with the couturier Jean-Louis Scherrer.
1997, La Maison du Chocolate celebrated its 20th anniversary and created for the occasion the legendary Initiation Gift Box which sublimes the mythical codes of Coffret Maison.
The signature Gift Box of La Maison du Chocolat affirms its status as an icon of timeless chic.
'From the nuance of a colour or the graceful bow of a ribbon, to the thickness of a graphic border, no effort is spared in perfecting details, or in guaranteeing impeccable quality. Carrying on the mythic tradition of unique gift boxes is about refining without altering, eluding the obvious year after year. The intangible pleasure of chocolate is rendered material through an accumulation of imperceptible yet elementary details. Chocolate is celebrated in a myriad of shades, through brown, cognac and havana; mythic codes are revisited in the bright hues of ripe fruit. The original lends itself to every imaginable iteration. Everything must change in order for nothing to change. And that is precisely what inspires the never-ending quest to ensure that each Maison du Chocolat box is perfectly attuned to contemporary times.'
The 1st November 1998, La Maison du Chocolat opened its 1st boutique in Tokyo on Omotesando.
Robert Linxe elevated his vision of chocolate to the status of an essential value for France.
After each opening in a new country, the renown of French chocolate grew with culturally decisive impact.
Robert Linxe was an initiator and pioneer of new territories, and his chocolates immediately received an enthusiastic welcome. He also had a lasting influence on several generations of local apprentices, who eagerly made the trip to Paris to learn first-hand from Robert Linxe in the basement workshop of the Faubourg Saint-Honoré boutique.
La Maison du Chocolat was invited in 2000 to join the Comité Colbert, becoming part of an elite circle of luxury houses that champion French art de vivre across the globe. La Maison du Chocolat thus asserts the exceptional essence of French creativity around the world alongside the most prestigious names in haute couture, jewellery, perfume, and wines and spirits, all flagships of French heritage and savoir-faire.
"Chocolatier is the profession of an artisan. All the chocolates are handmade, but in reality, they are really made with the heart!” Robert Linxe
This same year, Robert Linxe published his second book by divulging his incredible recipes. He proposed to associate grands crus of chocolate with unrivalled flavours.
Recognizing his inherent artistic abilities, he named Nicolas Cloiseau, who joined la Maison in 1996, manager of the new decoration atelier.
2006, launch of the legendary “ Heart of Ganache Macarons” Collection, available in five flavours all with chocolate ganache: plain chocolate, chocolate with raspberry,chocolate with vanilla, chocolate with coffee, and chocolate with caramel.
For all our creations, chocolate always serves as the starting point and the inspiration. La Maison du Chocolat pastries are crafted with equally exacting precision and savoir-faire than chocolates. Authentic flavours are set off by subtly contrasting textures and sensations. Chocolate tarts and macarons, for example, offer a new expression of the timeless art of ganache, while éclairs reveal aromatic palette of different cacao varieties, and chocolate mousse transports us back to the delights of childhood.
La Maison du Chocolat celebrates chocolate in all its forms! Chocolate harbours an infinite promise of pleasures, from a cup of hot chocolate or a truffle dusted with cocoa powder, to a bar of milk chocolate or an icy sorbet. Between a full-bodied ganache and feathery chocolate mousse there are a myriad of forms, textures and nuances, and an equally vast array of tastes. The powdered cocoa on a truffle does not awaken the same gustatory experience as a creamy ganache, a crunchy bar or the silky icing on an éclair.
While celebrating the 30th anniversary of his Maison at Salle Pleyel, Robert Linxe is named Knight of the Legion of Honour in recognition of his lifetime achievements.
Nicolas Cloiseau is awarded the same year the rare title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) Chocolatier Confectioner*, widening the select circle of artisan-aesthetes whose adept affirmations launch trends. As he tirelessly pushes boundaries, his discerning eye and precise gestures reveal the wondrous art of creating subtle emotions from eight grams of chocolate.
*Best Craftsman Chocolatier France.
First boutique in China and Southeast Asia opens on June 25, 2008, La Maison du Chocolat is the first upscale French chocolatier to open a boutique in Hong Kong in the Pacific Place Mall. There followed prestigious addresses in the most beautiful malls of the island: Elements, ifc mall, Landmark Prince's, The Lee Gardens.
La Maison du Chocolat opens for the first time at an airport. This marks a new era for luxury brands with a first boutique at T2E at Roissy Charles de Gaulle. This new foray into Retail Travel will give luxury French chocolate extensive international exposure.
The 2011 Salon du Chocolat and the profession pay homage to the career of Robert Linxe. Watching his peers and others who knew him over the years speak about him, his vision of chocolate and/or his own products, one begins to understand the impact this man has had.
Jean-Paul Hévin, Christian Constant, Pierre Hermé, Patrick Roger, Pierre Marcolini, Alain Passard, Michel Troigros, Julie Andrieu, Irène Frain, Jeanne Moreau, la Maison Bernachon and many others addressed him with a personal note, an anecdote, a thank you saluting the genius of this man and his professional life.
In 2012, Nicolas Cloiseau was named Master Chef of La Maison du Chocolat. He is in charge of the signature taste of la Maison and continues the legacy of Robert Linxe: the expression of creative passion and unique savoir-faire.
“I am heir to the perfection of balances of Robert Linxe. I make chocolates as he would have made them today. I feel responsible for what he has created, his philosophy of taste,assemblages and his balances.” Nicolas Cloiseau
This is an adventurer who chooses roads not taken, who creates rather than replicates, someone whose fantastic imagination transcends fashions. With his intimate knowledge of our secrets, Nicolas Cloiseau interprets La Maison du Chocolat’s vision with passionate talent. He joined La Maison du Chocolat nearly 20 years ago, working closely with Robert Linxe, and has been with us ever since. His imagination and skill have infused the spirit of all our creations since 2012.
The Printemps department store hosts for three months the unique Parisian tea salon of La Maison du Chocolat, who takes up its summer quarters at the Atrium in the heart of the Printemps department store on boulevard Haussmann. This space will draw attention to the great freedom Maison gave to Printemps to revisit with “exuberant luxury” the codes of its brand.
On the occasion of the Salon du Chocolat, the Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat awards Nicolas Cloiseau representing La Maison du Chocolat an award to salute his work.
November 17th, La Maison du Chocolat inaugurates its largest tasting salon in the United Arab Emirates in its flagship mall in Dubai, mall considered to be the largest gathering of luxury maisons. In terms of drawing power, Dubai is to the Middle East what Paris is to Europe. The shopping experience is remarkable.
Continuing with its development in the Middle East, June 12th, La Maison du Chocolat opens its 1st boutique in Kuwait in the Mall of the Avenues.
For its 15th anniversary, Vogue Japan asks Nicolas Cloiseau to create an exceptional piece in chocolate depicting what Japan and fashion represent for him. He creates for this occasion a rare and unique piece: a finely crafted fan totally covered in gold leaf.
On December 11, 2014, Robert Linxe passes away in his home in Bayonne where he had retired with his wife Gisèle in the beginning of 2012. He was 85 years old.
The entire profession pays an emotional tribute to him. 'We have lost a father and a friend, who leaves a formidable stamp on the profession in France and abroad. He passed on to us the demands of doing something very well, the balance of flavour, the art of degustation and sharing your savoir-faire.'
The adventure continues in Asia.
February 1st, La Maison du Chocolat opens its 1st boutique in Korea in seoul in the mall Shinsegae.
The Printemps department store selects La Maison du Chocolat to celebrate its 150 printemps (150 years) and turns its Atrium into a festive, floral and vibrant environment for a major event of the season.
May 2015, Nicolas Cloiseau knows that reinventing chocolate is also about imagining novel textures and sensations, breaking with traditional forms and rules to seek original emotions. His amazing Savoury Chocolate Collection featuring vegetables explores a new savoury dimension of chocolate with surprising and inspired pairings of chocolate with mushrooms, black olives, onions and peppers. So delicious they make certitudes melt in your mouth.
La Maison du Chocolat begins with a blank page, working with audacity, creativity and modernity to propose a fresh take that reinvents the taste of chocolate.
October 2015, New York celebrates its 25 anniversary and renews its legendary boutique on Madison Avenue for the occasion.