If you ever find yourself in Paris on a sunny day, or any day for that matter (but, in all honesty, sunny days in Paris are the absolute best), head over to Ladurée and hopefully, if you’re lucky, there will be no line.
Ladurée is a famous maker of the macaron, a cookie/cake taste sensation that has slowly become hip and popular in the States. The French have been making and eating macarons since the mid-1800s and Ladurée is kind of the well-known brand king when it comes to these delicious tea-time treats.
The story goes that in 1862 Louis Ernest Ladurée opened a bakery at 16 rue Royale during the days of ultra-chic cafe culture. During this time, cafes were becoming quite the elegant place to sit and socialize in Paris. Jeanne Souchard, the wife of Louis Ernest and the daughter of a well-known hotelier in Rouen (what up, Normandy!), had the idea to mix a cafe and a pastry shop into what would later become known as one of the hot tea salons in town – Ladurée.
Ladurée is not the only place to find wonderful macarons in France. In Normandy, you can check out Auzou, which while not as famous as Ladurée makes some rather delicious macarons. Both places change-up the macaron menu from time to time and offer special seasonal or flavors of the month. At this very moment, Ladurée has cherry and apple and Auzou has a banana chocolate.
Auzou also makes some ‘salt’ macarons (in France certain things related to food tend to fall into one of two categories: sucré or salés (sweet or salty). The salés macarons they offer have flavors like fois gras and apple or goat’s cheese, tarragon and walnut. When I told the Frenchman’s mother about these salés macarons, she simply said, “uck.” And I have to agree simply because a macaron should be sweet not salty. But who knows, maybe they are fabulously delish. Something to try.
But, it’s not just about tasty cookie/cakes. One of the things that I adore about Ladurée is that they change their packaging from season to season and the packaging alone would make a lovely gift – soft, marbleized boxes decorated with Empire style portraits (Autumn 2010 – blue) or bold, whimsical and contemporary (Spring 2010 – green). Whenever I’m in Paris, I always try to head over to one of the cafes to check out the window display and snap a few photos. It’s just oh-so-French.