Chocolats Favarger S.A.

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 chocolate.

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: