Was in Paris in October and the hub and I hit up: Patrick Roger (second!), Regis, Michel Chaudan (sp?), Jean-Charles Rouchoux (caramel bar, mmmmm), and Pierre Marcolini. I bought some assorted chocolates, but mostly bars -- all 65% and up. They were all exceptional.
My method was to narrow to the top ten from hours of research and put stars on our map to indicate chocolatiers. We went to whoever we happened to be near in our sightseeing. Didn't got to all the best, but definitely got a spectrum.
If you are in Nice look out for local Provence chocolatiers. Joel Durand (St Remy de Provence), Bernard Castelain (Avignon), Castelanne (Nantes - the liquid caramels are the bomb).
In Montpellier look for Puyricard.
Also be on the look out for a copy of Le Guide du Club du Croquers de Chocolat. It is an incomplete and totally biased guide to chocolate in France but it's the best there is. And - it's organized by city (but not be department) and they don't list anything for Nice.
In Venice this is what I find but I haven't been there.
San Polo 2898a, Calle del Campaniel, close to San Toma www.viziovirtu.com
Please take pix and post a report on what you find!
Viziovirtu is a pretty cool little shop. Tiny but with lots of variety and on the modern side. It was one of the nicest chocolate shops we saw on a recent trip to Italy. Plus Venice is a trip in itself.
For Paris try---and enjoy yourself!!!!
La Maison du Chocolat
Address: 225, rue du Faubourg St. Honoré
Metro: Place des Termes
Address: 108, blvd. St. Germain
Address: 72 Rue Bonaparte