History of a legend
September 17, 1929, birth of Robert Linxe, founder of La Maison du Chocolat in Bayonne, France.
Nothing predisposed Robert Linxe to become a chocolatier. At 18, he decides to pursue an apprenticeship in pastry in Bayonne. His father told him: “When you choose a profession, be mindful that opportunities are available for the first not for the last in their field.” He continues his apprenticeship and mastery of the art of chocolate during the 1950’s at an international school of chocolate, C.O.B.A. in Bâle, Switzerland. Then, he spends two years as an apprentice in a Parisian restaurant.
On April 26, 1954, he marries Gisèle.
At 28, Robert Linxe opens his first company in Paris taking over La Marquise de Presles, a pastry-confectionary shop located at 121 avenue de Wagram. He decides to focus on the catering business and spends the next twenty years developing it. He then sells it to Gaston Lenôtre.
Twenty years go by, and Robert finally turns his dream into reality: “to restore chocolate in all its nobility”. At 48, he founds La Maison du Chocolat and on October 26, 1977 opens 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.
Nicknamed “The Sorcerer of Ganache” by the philosopher Jean-Paul Aron, he invents modern chocolate and creates ganaches with the most delicate flavours. Always searching for a subtle balance that will exemplify the signature Maison du Chocolat taste. In 1978, Robert Linxe makes his first ganaches with fruit (a technique blending chocolate and fresh cream, a favourite of Robert Linxe to create intoxicating associations of chocolate with subtle and natural flavours) creating the legendary Salvador, ganache with fresh raspberry pulp and Andalousie, ganache with fresh lemon zest.
“I am by nature a perfectionist, it’s not a virtue; it’s an opportunity”. Robert Linxe
In 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)
In 1986, the second boutique Maison du Chocolat opens its doors rue François 1er, followed in 1988 by a third boutique on boulevard de la Madeleine.
La Maison du Chocolat crosses the Atlantic and opens its first boutique in New York on October 1st on 73rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenue.
Each opening in a new country is a true encounter, the challenge of cultural initiation to the refinement of French chocolate and savoir-faire.
The same year, Robert Linxe pens his first book and introduces 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.
Robert Linxe revisits the traditions of the feast of the Three Kings and creates his first Galette with chocolate ganache.
La Maison du Chocolat opens a boutique on the Left Bank, at 19 rue de Sèvres.
La Maison du Chocolat celebrates its 20th anniversary and creates the legendary Initiation Gift Box for this occasion.
November 1, 1998, La Maison du Chocolat opens its first boutique in Tokyo at Omotesando.
La Maison du Chocolat is accepted into the Comité Colbert, and is now a member of the prestigious circle of maisons, heirs to the savoir-faire and ambassadors of the French art de vivre continually renewed by creation. This same year, Robert Linxe publishes his second book by divulging his incredible recipes. He proposes to associate grands crus of chocolate with unrivalled flavours.
"Chocolatier is the profession of an artisan. All the chocolates are handmade, but in reality, they are really made with the heart!” Robert Linxe
Recognizing his inherent artistic abilities, he names Nicolas Cloiseau, who joined la Maison in 1996, manager of the new decoration atelier.
October 10th, London now has its own La Maison du Chocolat on Piccadilly Avenue. The large department stores, Harrod’s and Selfridges, will follow a few years later.
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.
The boutiques of La Maison du Chocolat have a new concept and new look.
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
Nicolas Cloiseau is awarded the same year the rare title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) Chocolatier Confectioner*
*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. An ambitious development policy for the brand with at least one opening each year of new sales outlets.
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.
On June 3, 2010, La Maison du Chocolat organises its first Nuit du gâteau (Night of Pastry) in Paris, then in Tokyo and New York. A unique opportunity to showcase its chocolate pastry creations.
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, Geoffroy d’Anglejan names Nicolas Cloiseau, 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
To celebrate its 35th anniversary, La Maison du Chocolat gives carte blanche to Atelier Hapax. In their expert hands, the signature boxes, shopping bags, and ribbons that we vow never to throw away again, are given the luxury of a second life.
With its modern and elegant spin on recycling, Atelier Hapax has given new beginnings to Maison packaging.
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. Openings of other sales outlet will follow in the Middle East notably in Kuwait City in June 2014.
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.”
High-end chocolate is a natural extension of French refinement, which captivates all cultures, even more when its consumption is not common. February 1st, La Maison du Chocolat opens its first boutique in Seoul, Korea in the Shinsegae mall.
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.