I'm just outside a side door of the factory/head office of chocolate
maker Favarger and have just cycled the pavement encircling the
complex trying to find the main entrance to the five-story structure
which looks to have been built in the late 1970's or early 1980's.
Guess what, there isn't one. You want to contact someone inside?
You step inside a phone booth and using a rotary dial phone,
dial an information number. Next to the phone booth stands a
huge piece of abandoned machinery (bigger than two cars) that
looks like it was used somewhere during the process of making
The woman answering the phone says she recalls my letter of introduction
and will be down in a few minutes to retrieve me. Favarger's
roots date back to 1826 in Geneva where a confectioner named
Jacques Foulquier founded it. The company grew and was taken
over by a son-in-law, Jean-Samuel Favarger. In 1875 the company
moved to its present site in Versoix. This small town fronts
Lake Geneva and lies about 10 miles from Geneva. The factory/office
is about a block from the lake and I can figure out for myself
why this site was chosen: a creek runs alongside the property
allowing for hydraulic power.
Benoit Tschanz, Commercial Director, answers questions and shows
me around the place. Thirty-five people work here. Employee parking
is plentiful, there's no cafeteria but a break area with tables,
chairs, microwaves, fridge and stove. It's five miles to Geneva's
airport and ditto to the nearest freeway. Any employee perks?
Thirty percent off the company's products.
Big doings going on here as the company was recently bought by
someone from Croatia. Christophe Favarger, the sixth generation
to run the company, is no longer the head honcho. I can't see
the new owner's office because "he's in meetings" but
Tschanz says the new owner's top floor corner office commands
a great view of the lake.
It has been the hottest August ever recorded in Switzerland and
so there's no better place to go than the company's refrigerated
warehouse where they store the products before shipping them.
Why? It must be about 65 degrees. Why have I been brought here?
Tschanz wants to weigh my bike down with chocolate goodies.
In the photo accompanying this story there's a yellow three-story
disused building with a large billboard sign atop that reads
"Chocolat Favarger". One idea being talked about is
turning the historic (protected) structure into a company museum.
I tried for weeks to access the company's website and learn from
Tschanz it has been down for a long time. Heck, I thought maybe
the company had closed down. Not a very smart move since it's
a cheap way to advertise.
Most of the company's consumer products have chocolate with some
variation of hazelnuts and almonds. They even market their own
chocolate fondue sauce. My personal favorite treat is Nougalines,
a hard nougatine shell filled with a smooth hazelnut cream and
coated with a fine milk chocolate.
If it ever comes back online the company's website is: www.favarger.ch