First, to my mind there are no two more French treats than macarons and pâte des fruits. First, for those who might not yet be familiar with these ah-may-zing delectables, a little info.
A French macaron consists of a layer of buttercream, ganache or jam spread between two meringue disks. The inventor of this pretty little taste treat is generally considered to be Pierre Desfontaines, a distant cousin of Louis Ernest Ladurée, founder of the famed pâtisserie. And for nearly 100 years the classic flavors of vanilla, chocolate, coffee and almond defined the universe of macarons. But in in the 1990s Ladurée began to work with Pierre Hermé, a pastry master, who developed a range of modern flavor combinations–lime and basil, olive oil vanilla, black current and roasted chestnut—that got the attention of tout Paris.
Fortunately for my addiction Ladurée now has multiple locations. And both the St. Germain (only a couple of blocks from our hotel!) and the Rue Royale branches of Ladurée are amazing to visit for their beautiful settings, and the macarons are worth buying for the packaging alone. (Seriously, you don’t want to know how many different versions of their pretty boxes I’ve collected!) But the stores are also worth a visit for the other items in the display case, in particular the scented candles, in elegant porcelain holders that make a wonderful gift. I especially love the brioche candle.
But Ladurée doesn’t have the macaron market all to itself. Today Pierre Hermé has his own pâtisseries (check out the one near our hotel at 72 rue Bonaparte) where he continues to develop amazing flavors, for example, he’s one of the chefs credited with started the salted caramel craze with his macaron buerre salé. If you decide macarons aren’t your thing, he’s also regarded as one of Paris’ premiere chocolatiers. (But chocolate? That’s a whole ‘nother post, or two, or more…)
Other macaron stops you might consider:
Carette: one of the oldest and most old-guard of the salons, Carette also offers news flavors each season. 4 Pl. au Trocadero in the 16th.
Macarons & Chocolat: Here experimental ingredients (lily of the valley anyone?) are lined up next to the classics. Chef/owner Arnaud Larher received a best-of-Paris award for his macarons not so long ago. His pistachio-cherry is a signature flavor. 57, rue Ramrémont in the 18th. So if you’re up near Montmartre…
Pâtisserie Sadaharu Aoki: “Traditional in recipe and modern in the Japanese touch” according to chef Aoki. Among the more unique flavors you’ll find salted cherry flower, yuzu and sansho, a type of Japanese pepper. 35 rue de Vaugirard in the 6th
Dalloyau: The ancestors of this company served Louis XIV at Versailles, but they’ve kept up with modern times. Dalloyau is actually a bit more comparable with Fauchon, a full service prepared food purveyor including salads, sandwiches, patés and pâtisserie. And while their macarons are very tasty indeed, I personally stop by Dalloyau to buy an assortment of pâtes des fruit, the sugar-coated jellied fruit squares that one (ex-) boyfriend jokingly referred to as “expensive jujubes.” They are absolutely NOTHING like that! The best pâtes des fruit (and I consider Dalloyau’s the best) capture the essence of fruit in one sweet little nibble. The main store is at 101 rue du Faubourg St.-Honoré but there’s also an outpost near the Grand Magasins at 35 blvd. Haussmann.
If you can’t find time to get to all these places individually, fortunately the food hall at Galeries Lafayette has outposts of almost all of these…and it’s also one of my favorite places to visit. 40, Blvd Haussmann. But Food Hall Nirvana is the Bon Marche’s Le Grand Epicerie across the street from Bon Marche, 24 rue des Sevres, and close to our hotel. Shop for souvenirs, specialties- spices, moutarde, foie gras, pate and wine grab a sandwich or sit down at any of the gourmet counters. (We love the Iberian ham and cheese spot.)