Located just 32km north of Alicante, is Villajoyosa the happiest town in Spain? It’s name suggests so. Villajoyosa translates into English as Joyful Town. There is every reason to think this could be an accurate nomenclature. It is, after all, the home of Valor chocolate. You too can make yourself happy by visiting their museum and factory in the town.
English tours are available at 11.00 and 16.00 during the week, but only at 11.00 on Saturdays and they are closed on Sundays. It’s free and there’s no need to book. Just make your way to the factory gates a few minutes before the tour is due to begin and a guide will meet you by the giant chocolate bar walls of the waiting area.
Just inside the gates stands a vintage car decorated in old fashioned Valor livery. You’ll be led alongside the ultra-modern factory to the museum. The smell is amazing! Once inside the museum you’ll sit down, the lights will dim, and a 10 minute video will tell you all about the history of both chocolate and the company. After that your mouth will already be watering at the prospect of some free samples, but you’ll have to wait a while!
Next up is the museum itself. Inside there are all sorts of historical artefacts from the original chocolate-making machinery through to advertising posters and chocolate wrappers. There are many photographs showing off the history of Valor, including some of the then Prince Felipe’s visit in 2006 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of chocolate in the town. You’ll even get the chance to hold ground chocolate beans in your hands and let the gorgeous smell permeate through your entire being.
From there you will be taken into the factory. Put your camera away now as no photography is allowed for the rest of the tour. You’ll be led up the stairs to the narrow glass walled walkway from where you can see the factory floor in action. (I say action, but a visit on a Saturday when some of the machinery was being replaced meant that I didn’t see a lot of action!) The sheer quantity of chocolate goodies being packed into boxes is staggering.
Your penultimate stop will be a small gallery with chocolate sculptures. They are kept behind glass cases to prevent the more curious tourist from testing to see that they are really made from chocolate. There you will also see the complete history of Valor chocolate wrappers. It’s very interesting to see how the designs have changed over the years. Personally I think the vintage wrappers would still sell today.
Finally you’ll be led to the shop. In there you can buy all sorts of goodies. More importantly though, there are free samples. High cocoa content chocolate, sugar-free chocolate, mint chocolate, double mint chocolate, orange chocolate – it’s a chocoholic’s dream!!
If your visit to the museum hasn’t completely satisfied your sweet tooth then head to the Valor café at the top of the travelator which saves your legs walking up the hill from the seafront. The chocolate and churros are to die for, but there is also an extensive menu of different choclate drinks for you to choose from.
Don’t wait. Go now before other greedy tourists have polished off the free samples!!