Macarons are among the most indulgent Parisian sweet treats. They are divine little baked sandwiches composed of two delicate halves whose texture lies somewhere between meringue and dense biscuit filled with jam or creamy spread. The classic flavors are caramel, pistachio, chocolate, vanilla and raspberry, but more exotic variations can be found from rose to foie-gras. While they are available in many patisseries in Paris, two establishments in particular have built their stellar reputations on their macarons.
Laduree is a venerable institution which first introduced macaroons in 1893. While the macarons are their signature dessert, Laduree also makes beautiful cakes of all varieties which they serve in a handful of ornate tea rooms in Paris. For take-out, the treats come packaged in pastel and gold boxes which are works of art themselves. The picturesque cakes and macaroons in Sofia Coppola’s film, Marie Antoinette, were made by Laduree and the patisserie even released some special edition flavors to commemorate the opening of the film.
Pierre Herme is Laduree’s esteemed, if much younger, rival. Despite his renown today for fabulously “French” pastries, Pierre Herme actually opened his first boutique in Tokyo in 2001. Bringing a Japanese aesthetic and following with him, he made a splash in Paris by offering macarons in a dizzying range of colors and flavors including a bright red, gold dusted, foie-gras flavored Christmas special. Pierre Herme is largely responsible for the recent macarons renaissance.
Both Laduree’s classic macarons and Pierre Herme’s zanier varieties are delectable. The classic grande dame Laduree and the adventurous upstart Pierre Herme have outposts on rue Bonaparte in St Germain des Pres in easy walking distance of each other. The geographic proximity invites a taste test and as the macarons are quite small, a sampling of 4-6 is an ideal accompaniment to afternoon tea. While Pierre Herme is take-out only, Laduree also serves a luxurious afternoon tea in their tea room. It is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon after a long walk or a visit to the nearby Musee d’Orsay but it can be quite expensive and often requires a waiting for a table. Alternatively, buy the macarons at the counter and bring them back to your apartment or, even better, enjoy them while sitting on the quais while people-watching.
Should you wish to bring a taste of Paris back home, they also make a wonderful Parisian gift and keep well on long plane journeys plus an extra day or two in the fridge.
21 rue Bonaparte-75006 Paris
Tel : 01.44.07.64.87
Open every day from 8.30am to 7.30pm
On Saturdays from 8.30am to 8.30pm. On Sundays from 10am to 7.30pm
72, rue Bonaparte-75006 PARIS
Tel : 01. 43. 54. 47. 77
Open every day from 10am to 7pm
On Saturdays until 7:30pm