Photo of bean processing Chocolaterie Puyodebat Cambo-les-Bains Basque Country

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Dive into the history of Basque chocolate

According to Christophe Puyodebat, chocolatier in Cambo-les-Bains, chocolate was unknown in the Basque Country before 1615.

It was Portuguese Jews driven out of Spain by the Inquisition and who took refuge in Bayonne, more precisely in the Saint-Esprit district, who carried it in their suitcases. Already initiated into the secrets of chocolate, it’s highly likely that they set up the first workshops to transform cocoa beans into powder.

And yes! At the time, chocolate was only a beverage, and hard chocolate, known as “à croquer”, was only made in London from 1674 onwards.

Returning to the Basque country, a large corporation of chocolate makers was then born, and one of the most important was located in Cambo-les-Bains, the Fagalde chocolate factory.

According to oral tradition, Jean Fagalde left the village of Hélette with his donkey, loaded with his chocolate stone on one side and his two children on the other, to open his factory on the site of today’s pharmacy on rue des Terrasses (chocolate stone on display at the Cambo museum).

Maison Fagalde, which began operations in 1787, was the first to industrialize chocolate with steam engines.

Our favorites

Among the display of old chocolate bar wrappers, our eyes were drawn to one in particular: blue, red and white.

Will it make you think, as we do, of a famous brand of puffed rice chocolate?

As you can see, we’re talking about the Crunch brand. Born in the United States in 1938, she arrived in France in the 1960s. But this packaging, visible in one of the display cases above the chocolate stones, doesn’t belong to Crunch, but to Noblia, founded in Cambo in 1863.

Strange resemblance…

At the entrance to the museum, hanging on the wall, is thecoat of arms presented by Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie de Montijo to the Fagalde family, holders of the “Supplier to His Majesty the Emperor of the French” patent.

Did you know?

The Fagalde family, originally from the small village of Hélette, settled in Cambo-les-Bains in 1802. The story goes that Jean Fagalde arrived with his wife, two children and the famous chocolate stone used to crush cocoa beans (on display at the Puyodebat museum).

They were pioneers in chocolate and cocoa processing. In 1855, they were the first to “mechanically” manufacture chocolate. They had a cocoa-grinding machine designed by “Rosie” (a foundry located in Bastide-Clairence at the time). They even won an honorable mention at the Paris World Fair for their innovations.

They are the ones who have earned Bayonne chocolate its know-how and reputation.

The Fagalde family owned several stores in Bayonne, Biarritz, Bordeaux and Paris.

In tribute to the playwright Edmond Rostand, who had decided to settle in Cambo-les-Bains and build his Arnaga residence, Pierre Fagalde (youngest son of Jean Fagalde), a Camboard chocolatier, created two chocolate bonbons: Le Rostand and Le Chantecler.

Their vintage boxes can be seen in the Puyodebat museum, among other nuggets from the history of chocolate.

In the second half of the 19th century, wearing a moustache was a sign of social distinction and very much in vogue.

But how do you eat and drink cleanly and elegantly, without sticking your nose in?

This is where the moustache cup comes in.

In 1860, British potter Harvey Adams invented the cup with a built-in moustache guard. An accessory which then spread to the rest of Europe, and which you can admire at the Musée Puyodebat.

Practical information

Musée Chocolaterie Puyodebat
Patrimoine culturel

Musée Chocolaterie Puyodebat

Immerse yourself in childhood souvenirs with the visit of the museum. You will know eveything about the history and the fabrication of chocolate, from the cocoa beans importation to the cooking. After…

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