When searching for family activities for our Paris vacation this summer, I found a 3-hour chocolate and patisserie walking tour.

My definition of heaven, even on a sweltering late June day. Happily, my husband and two twentysomething children were game.

The tour circled through the St. Germain des Prés neighborhood, one of my favorites, stopping at 8 different shops.

My favorite stop was not a chocolate shop or patisserie though.

It was La Chambre aux Confitures, which translates to “the room of jams.” (I’m not being paid to promote them; I just enjoy their store.)

We arrived there about an hour into the tour, wilting from the heat and having drained our water bottles.

The shop was about the size of a single garage stall and air-conditioned. Beige shelves lined the tan walls from front to back and were curved to create the feeling you were walking into a circle with a small island in the middle.

Each shelf section had 5 levels and featured different sizes of the same jam flavor or grouping of flavors.

Well-placed lighting made it easy to read labels, see the white signage, and navigate the space.

A stack of assembled boxes sat at the checkout in back, ready for multi-jar purchases.

A section of the store La Chambre Aux Confitures in Paris, with its curved wall showing 3 shelving sections with 5 shelves each. Each shelf displays a flavor of jam. The jars are clear, letting the jam's red, yellow, or purple color come through.

Photo credit: Fiona Traub

A single French woman managed the shop. When our tour stopped there, 9 participants plus our guide Louis, she turned her attention to us.

The Name the Flavor Game

The 11 of us – 10 on the tour plus the shopkeeper – filled the space in the main area around the island. Any movement to look at another shelf required us to jockey around each other.

Louis told us the shop was known for its innovative flavor combinations.

With great enthusiasm he and the shopkeeper announced we were going to taste several jams, but instead of introducing each flavor combination, they wanted us to guess.

Louis did most of the talking, but occasionally the shopkeeper chimed in with a few words in English.

The shopkeeper brought out the jar with the first flavor combination and began distributing almond-sized scoops of jam on tiny tasting spoons.

My son AJ hesitated to take a sample as he is not a jam guy. He asked for a small taste.

The shopkeeper patiently showed AJ different amounts on a tasting spoon until she produced a small enough size for him to feel comfortable.

We tasted 7 different jams.

Each time, the shopkeeper measured out AJ’s preferred taste size. Every tour participant got a chance to guess the flavors before the she revealed the combination.

The flavors were innovative – and delicious!

Apricot lavender.

Mango, passionfruit, and vanilla.

Pear yuzu.

Raspberry passionfruit.

Pineapple, rum, and vanilla.

Fig, walnut, and brandy.

Cherry, red currant, and thyme.

Sometimes we collectively guessed all the ingredients, sometimes not. Louis and the shopkeeper lobbed clues occasionally, like “the last one you are missing is a beverage.”

We had a ton of fun guessing.

No Pressure to Buy, But We Wanted to

Our tour cost over $100 per person. Louis compensated the shops we visited for what we tasted.

The sampling game at La Chambre Aux Confitures was pure fun with no pressure to buy.

But of course we did. We purchased a small jar of the Apricot Lavender (Abricot Lavande) and a medium one of Blackcurrant (Cassis).

The other family on the tour bought more than we did.

As we were getting ready to leave the store and brave the relentless heat, we asked Louis where we could get water.

The shopkeeper overheard us and volunteered to fill our water bottles.

As if we could adore her more?

We left feeling joyful and fortified.

For the half-hour she spent with us, the shopkeeper sold several jars of jam and made us raving fans of the La Chambre Aux Confitures brand.

She also reflected well on the tour, ensuring Louis and his tour guide colleagues would continue to bring new prospects in.

In addition to her time, all it cost was 9 small samples of 7 jams.

Cassis Casualty, and Redemption

You might be wondering after tasting those flavor combinations why we bought cassis.

The flavor reminds me of my time studying in Paris, especially when my friend Rachel introduced me to the kir royale (cassis liqueur and champagne – yes it is that good).

For my husband Dan, it conjures memories of visiting Paris’ renown ice cream shop Berthillon with his family.

We were thrilled to bring some cassis home.

Our joy was short-lived though.

Later on the tour, we stopped at Café Pierre Hermé for a beverage and what Louis assured us were the best macarons in Paris.

Our tour group filled up several tables outside the café.

Evelyn at an outdoor table in front of Pierre Herme with white cup of tea in front of her on a white saucer

Photo credit: Fiona Traub

That’s me above at the Pierre Hermé stop, with my tea.

Dan put the bag from La Chambre Aux Confitures down on the ground.

The macarons lived up to Louis’ claim.

When Dan picked up the bag to leave, he discovered it was leaking. The cassis jar had broken when he put the bag down.

He was upset about it.

I was bummed but it was hard for me to be upset about anything on that tour. I was in Paris, tasting chocolates, pastries, and jams. Gratitude, merci.

Three days later, on our last full day in Paris, we had no set plans. My family let me pick our activity.

I wanted to roam the St. Germain des Prés neighborhood more. Back we went.

We meandered for a while. Suddenly I peaked in a store we were passing and recognized the shopkeeper even before I saw the jams.

Redemption! I proposed replacing the cassis jar we lost. Dan was particularly enthusiastic about it.

Upon entering, the shopkeeper recognized us. Dan nabbed a jar of cassis and explained to her what had happened in English.

She understood and expressed her sympathy via her expression.

It hadn’t occurred to us to ask for wrapping the first time, but we were wiser now. In my rusty French I asked if she had a box or paper to wrap the jar.

“For the airplane?” she responded in French. (“Pour l’avion?”)

She quickly produced a perfect-sized piece of bubble wrap and some mailing tape. She pulled a pair of scissors from her apron, and wrapped that jar securely in record time.

We left feeling uplifted from recouping the cassis jam and seeing the friendly shopkeeper again.

What Your Brand Can Learn from La Chambre Aux Confitures

I did not tell you this story to generate jam and Paris envy, nor to torture myself with the fact that I am no longer there.

The latter may have happened anyway.

I shared this wonderful experience with you to highlight the many smart marketing things La Chambre Aux Confitures did that led to sales, things your brand can do too.

Offer a welcoming space. La Chambre Aux Confitures’ circular shop configuration invited us to walk around the entire space.

The neutral décor – tan walls, beige shelves, white signage – made the colorful products on the shelves pop, drawing our eyes there. Ample lighting made it easy to read labels.

Sample your product to stoke customer interest. Sampling several flavors of jam demystified what those combinations would taste like and demonstrated their high quality.

There was no risk in purchasing those flavors – we knew what we were getting was delicious.

Guessing the flavors was fun and created fond memories of our visit. Great brand associations!

Listen to each customer and seek to understand them. The shopkeeper saw AJ’s expression when she first offered the almond-sized sample of jam. She waited patiently as AJ hesitated and then asked for a smaller taste.

Her patience and listening were genuine. There was no judgment in her demeanor.

Meet customers where they are. Once the shopkeeper understood AJ’s hesitation and request, she keep reducing the taste size until he felt comfortable accepting.

When customers addressed the shopkeeper in English, she did her best to respond in English. She respected my attempt to communicate in French by responding in French.

Anticipate and accommodate their needs. When we requested packaging to safeguard our replacement jar of cassis jam for our trip home, the shopkeeper was ready with pre-cut bubble wrap, mailing tape, and scissors to respond quickly.

La Chambre Aux Confitures will also ship anywhere in the world, for travelers who don’t want to transport their wares home and for customers ordering from their website.

The shopkeeper’s offer to fill our water bottles after she had already made the sale expressed pure kindness.

The collective effect of these excellent brand practices led us to enjoy the products, get familiar with them, and trust the brand’s quality.

Where many brands need multiple exposures to achieve the “know, like, and trust” buying prerequisite, La Chambre Aux Confitures cleared those hurdles in one extensive visit.

And at a low customer acquisition cost!

They also made us eager to return.

Do you know your prospects’ barriers to buying? The risks that make them hesitate?

If you can eliminate them and make transacting easy like La Chambre Aux Confitures, you’ll shorten your sales cycle and gain more happy customers.

By the way, I know I mentioned that La Chambre Aux Confitures ships worldwide.

But please don’t tell Dan. I really need to go back to Paris, and am not above using jam refills as an excuse.


Brand Building for Service Professionals

I was honored to be Brett Trainor’s first guest on his rebranded podcast, Hardwired 2.0.

Brett and I had an in-depth conversation on how service professionals can build and grow their business. Brett used the opportunity to talk a bit about his transition and pick my brain.

Listen to our conversation here. (42 minutes)

Evelyn Starr guest on Brett Trainor's Hardwired 2.0 episode "Growth Lessons with the author of Teenage Wastebrand"


Just for Fun

Watch and listen to Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Jamming.”

Take the 3-hour chocolate and patisserie tour in Paris! (I’m not being paid to promote this, trust me it’s worth it!)



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