Most people would say the best thing about Paris is the Eiffel Tower. Others would say the Louvre. Some might even joke about Louis Vuitton. The city of love, though, holds a hidden gem that fits in your palm. Macarons, not to be confused with coconut macaroons, are sandwich cookies made from almond flour and egg whites. The combination of skill and artistry creates a treat so light and delicate but still rich in flavor. The cookies are usually crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside and come in an array of colors. The filling is sometimes cream or jam but is up to the pâtissier as to what will be the final product. They usually come in a wide array of flavors and styles. The classic macaron is no bigger than your palm. Other macarons can be as big as your hand and filled with fresh fruit or decorative frosting
Macarons are found everywhere in the city. Look for a shop with the words Patisserie and you’ll be sure to find them. You can find them in the streets of Montmartre, on open display for tourists and residents alike, or simply in your neighborhood café which might sell a few on hand. If you’re not feeling like sprinting around the city, you can visit department stores like Printemps which feature food-court like sections where many patisseries can be found. You can also try Rue de Bac, a shopping street specializing in sweets and pastries.
Paris macarons are world-renowned luxuries. Macaron stores all over the world sometimes have their macarons made in Paris and flown over to far-flung places like Hong Kong and Tokyo. Really, there’s a whole world of food to discover in the French capital. The French, in fact, coined the term gastronomy as early as the 1800s. So, join us on our gastronomic experience as we explore Paris for the best macarons.
To tell if a macaron is good or not, note the crimped foot of each half and the absence of cracks and bubbles. All these indicate well-cooked macarons, and if the sizes are all the same, indicate great craftsmanship as well. IF you plan to take them with you, make sure they stay sealed and refrigerated. They keep for about 3-5 days before they start to become stale. They’re best enjoyed refrigerated and warmed in room temperature for 15 minutes before being eaten to get the best possible texture.
Our first stop is the high-end department store Galeries Lafayette. Behind the Palais Garnier, the Paris opera house, away from the main building with all the glitz and glam, sits Galeries Lafayette Gourmet, an upmarket collection of restaurants and patisseries much like a luxury food court. Make your way from the entrance to the center and you will find a while nook of patisseries.
One of them is Dalloyau, a patisserie that’s as traditional as it is good. Dalloyau had its start with Charles Dalloyau, a pastry chef for King Louis XIV, where his technique and recipe has been passed down by generations from the 1600s. As far as tradition goes, Dalloyau claims the top spot. Look out for the red and white stall by one of the entrances to see the dazzling display of eclairs, truffles, sweets, and pastries. Dalloyau macarons come in classic flavors like raspberry, strawberry, and vanilla, among others. Simplicity is key for them, instead of pouring their heart into technique and specially sourced ingredients that definitely make all the difference. For a cookie sandwich with strawberry filling, the taste comes off delicately rich. You will definitely taste the flavor, but the richness does not offend the tongue and is not too sweet. The texture is one you have to taste to understand. At first, biting into it feels like biting into a cracker, but the outer layer quickly gives way and reveals a chewy center where all the flavor can be found. Best grab a box of 8 for you to try each flavor and experience how subtle flavors can go a long way. Best be warned that macarons do come at a price, with macarons costing as much as EUR 3 apiece.
Dalloyau is also famous for its own take on the Opera cake, a cake consisting of layers 72% dark chocolate ganache, coffee crème, and coffee biscuit topped with gold leaf. The coffee perfectly contrasts the richness of the dark chocolate and is perfect with coffee or tea after a meal.
Nearby should be Pierre Herme, whose claim to fame is a dizzying variety of flavors and flavor combinations. In fact, you might find yourself face to face with an entire counter of macarons of different colors. Dubbed the carousel of flavors, we recommend you try to pick something closer to your preferred taste rather than trying as much as possible. Some of our favorites include passionfruit and chocolate, which is a step up from its underappreciated cousin, chocolate, and orange. Isfahan is also a favorite which is a fruity concoction of raspberry, lychee, and rose, making for a tart yet bright flavor. To give you an idea about the scope of these flavors, they also have an olive oil and vanilla macaron and lemon and wild thyme macaron. You can, of course, ask them to pick their favorites for you, where a box of 7 classic macarons goes for EUR 22. They also have other themed sets such as Mediterranean flavors and Paris must-haves.
Jean Paul Hevin
Also within the immediate vicinity should be Jean Paul Hevin, who is more of a chocolatier than a pâtissier. This means that majority of their flavor set features chocolate as a star, some of which could even be one of the best in the world. Their palette is a bit less varied, and a box of 10 should be enough to get a good feel of the flavors. Almost all their macarons have chocolate in them, with several flavors consisting of specific types of dark chocolate. It’s best to talk with the pâtissier about these flavors as each type of chocolate can offer wildly different flavors, with some being fruity and others being bitter. They also offer chocolate and fruit combinations to add a refreshing zing to contrast the semisweet chocolate. The best part about the macarons is the chewy decadent center that is hard to find in a macaron. Simply speaking, it feels a bit like fudge with a thin crispy crust. Arguably, it’s one of the best in the world
While there, try out their other chocolate products, which is also their specialty. A simple box of crispy chocolates or a box of truffles is definitely worth a try.
Moving on from the Galeries Lafayette is this Paris Salon on the tree-lined Champs Elysée. Laduree is one of, if not the most famous macaron stores in the world, sometimes being the Tiffany’s of the macaron world. To understand how serious they are about their craft, you have to know that they make their world supply in one place and ship them out via plane as soon as they’re done. In Paris though, they’re made on the spot. Unlike the others on this list, Laduree offers more delicate flavors than they are showy, sometimes incorporating tea. Aside from the classics of chocolate, which you’d expect would b artisanal, and vanilla, they also offer peculiar choices like licorice and tea. They also have more refreshing choices like rose, lavender, orange blossom, and rose grapefruit. A box of 12 goes for around EUR 32, but you can also opt for a smaller box of 8, which we think is the perfect size to try everything. They also offer gift boxes where they choose the flavors for you and with varying box designs. Laduree also offers vegan macarons as well as chocolate-coated macarons, which is something we’ve only seen them do.
If you find yourself in a Laduree Patisserie, make sure to try out their other pastries which themselves look like art pieces. We highly recommend Ispahan, an oversized macaron filled with fruit, among others. They do serve ice cream as well.
Carrette was a café that we did not really know of. Right beside the Jardins du Trocadero, this little patisserie is more known for sandwiches and tea. But one thing you should try is their macarons. If you are only in Paris for a while and can only afford to get a few to go, we highly recommend you get it from here. Most of the time to the untrained palette, macarons can end up tasting the same regardless of where you get them. But Carrette is able to pull of modest macarons and set themselves apart from many fancy treats. It has the perfect chewy texture in the center and not too grainy or crumbly, and if eaten fresh, the perfect temperature. The flavor is not overpowering, but you can surely find the notes of fruit or vanilla in there. Simply put, if you’re not a macaron kind of person, you should get it from here. You get to see a postcard-worthy view of the Eiffel Tower too. We highly recommend a chocolate macaron and tea on the side.
Maison Georges Larnicol is a chocolatier with a branch in the heart of Montmartre. Among bespoke art stores is this bastion of colorful macarons and chocolates. On your way to the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, try passing buy for a box of macarons with classic flavors. The boutique is more of a chocolate shop though, so make sure to try their biscuits and chocolates that you can buy by the bag.
TWG is a tea parlor that serves a wide array of tea varieties – more than you could possibly try I a lifetime. Their macarons feature tea-infused selections, like an earl grey macaron. TWG is a bit more accessible than the other macarons on this list and is also widely available around the world. IF you find yourself in this tea parlor, try the tea sets as well for a midday treat.
Macarons are so integral to Paris food that you can even find it in McDonald’s. McCafe offers the aptly named McCarons at EUR 1.50, one of the cheapest in France and can even be found in places like Austria. They come in the classic flavors of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla, and are pretty decent in quality. But don’t expect much from a fast-food pastry.
As a final note, this isn’t meant to be treated as a to-do list. There’s no way you will be able to buy several boxes of 10-20 macarons each. Even if you could, it’s not advisable as it would be hard to keep the macarons fresh as you try to finish them (trust us we’ve tried it). If you’ve had macarons before, think about what you like most about them. Think about what flavors you’re more likely to enjoy, then pick one or two of these spots. Either way, experiencing the wonders of macarons is something you should be doing for yourself. It’s not worth buying macarons if you won’t enjoy them as much as you could, but we’re sure you will anyway.
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