One image that Paris conjures up is definitely a narrow stacked pyramid of puffy, double-decker macarons in a rainbow of pastel shades: rose, lavender, mint green, cream, lemon yellow. Or these very same macarons nestled tightly in silver-embossed boxes. Why are macarons so deeply connected to Paris? You might have guessed it–this version of the macaron was invented in Paris.
The shop they were invented in is named Ladurée, and it was first opened in Paris in 1862. So basically this bakery has existed longer than my home country of Canada. The macaron wasn’t there from the beginning though: in 1930 the grandson of the original owner had the idea of attaching two identical round macarons together with icing. (It’s fair to note other bakers have claimed credit for the idea, and is so often the case, it’s hard to know who invented it first. However, Ladurée certainly helped make it famous!) Macarons are a little more expensive than just any old cookie because they are made from egg whites, ground almonds, sugar and flavourings, and it is a tricky business to create hundreds or thousands of identical rounds that can be stacked together. The egg whites each have to puff up evenly, without cracking or browning. I personally would struggle to create dozens of identical cookies of any kind, but Ladurée produces enough to sell 15 000 every day. There’s a wide array of flavours to try too, and it is fascinating to stand at the wide shop counter and choose which types to try.
The business has grown a lot since its beginning, and now operates many locations–not only in Paris, but also around the world. The original location burnt down in 1871 and was rebuilt, and at that time the ceiling was painted with cherubs dressed as pastry cooks. As more locations opened, they were all richly decorated as well. The location on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées was designed by Jacques Garcia, who mixed 17th and 18th century styles with contemporary influences, using tapestries, black granite, chandeliers and engravings. In other words, the stores themselves emphasize the luxurious nature of the treats they sell.
In my novella, Paris in Clichés, I had my characters visit the Champs-Elysées location, rather than the original location on Rue Royale. Aside from the fact that the Champs-Elysées location is the location I have personally visited (and was blown away by the opulence of the interior), I also chose this particular location so my characters could also visit the Champs-Elysées itself. The Champs-Elysées is known as “the most beautiful avenue in Paris” and it stretches from the Tuileries Garden by the Louvre at one end to the Arc de Triomphe on the other. Of course, this means that many the famous French brands have expensive luxury stores along this avenue–and pretty much every major non-French luxury brand as well. It is definitely a fascinating place to walk down and explore. But you cannot expect the cozy intimate feel of poking into shops in Le Marais or Montmartre along this strip–it is both bustling and glamorous.
Enjoy a tour of Ladurée and the Champs-Elysées through these pictures! You can see more pictures of the interior of Ladurée at the designer’s website here: https://studio.jacquesgarcia.com/en/project/laduree-paris/
Interiors of several Ladurée locations: https://hadleycourt.com/laduree-interiors/
Ladurée macaron ingredients: https://www.laduree.fr/en/discover-laduree/our-know-how.html.
Buy Paris in Clichés
Entrance to Ladurée – the Champs-Elysées – macarons
Posts in this series:
- Paris is Still Always a Good Idea
- Shakespeare and Company
- Berthillon: An Astonishing Ice Cream Shop on the Île Saint-Louis
- Bateaux Mouches on the River Seine
- Don’t Miss the Eiffel Tower
- Get Lost in the Louvre
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