The Best Macarons in Paris

One of our main goals while visiting Paris was to sample the macarons. L and M are huge fans of macarons, and even had them as our wedding favors (chocolate, blueberry and chai). However, we will freely admit that none of the macarons in Chicago (even the most expensive) can rival those in Paris. Prior to our trip, we did some research to narrow down the overwhelming choices for some possible top contenders. After reading many ‘best of ‘ lists we arrived at two top contenders – Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. With this shortlist in mind, we set out to conduct a scientific study of what would be the top macaron in Paris, along with our good friends and gracious Paris hosts, T & I. Below, we compare the two shops on various parameters, and discuss our final decision. And no, we did not get IRB approval for this study (Social Science joke!)

Basic Facts

Ladurée
Location in Paris we visited: 21 Rue Bonaparte, Saint Germain des Prés, Paris
Flavors Sampled: Salted Caramel, Colombian Chocolate, Pistachio

Pierre Hermé
Location in Paris we visited: 72 Rue Bonaparte, Saint Germain des Prés, Paris
Flavors Sampled: Creme Brulée, Venezuelan Chocolate, Salted Caramel

Breakdown:

The line outside Ladurée

Price and Line:
Both stores had lines out the door (and were located mere blocks from eachother in the Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood).  However, Ladurée gets the hat-tip for having lower prices for roughly the same sized macarons. At Pierre Hermé eight macarons were €15.70, Ladurée came in at €12.10.
Verdict: Ladurée – we are poor grad students, what do you expect?

Strictness:
We got yelled at in each store for taking pictures – but only after about 20 photos. Oops…?
Verdict: Tie

Minimalist display at Pierre Hermé

Decor:
In terms of decor, the two shops could not be more different. Ladurée is a pastel-colored confection, full of filigree and antique fixtures. Pierre Hermé, on the other hand, is extremely stark and sleek, and really goes for the minimalist look. This style was also reflected in each store’s Christmas window decorations, as seen below.
Verdict: We slightly preferred Ladurée, for its old-world charm.

Miscellany:
Pierre Hermé provided little menus with all of the macaron flavors so you could decide while waiting in line. However, Pierre Hermé was also out of a flavor – one that might have been our favorite flavor! Overall, Pierre Hermé was more inventive, and had flavors like Olive Oil/Citrus and Chocolate/Foie Gras, whereas Ladurée only had more classic flavors.
Verdict: Neutral.

In terms of flavors, it was decided that at both locations, the salted caramel and chocolate were the best, so we will discuss those below.

Chocolates:
Both of the restaurants featured a single-original dark chocolate South American macaron, with chocolate cookies and dark chocolate mousse filling, dusted with cocoa powder.
Verdict: Split Decision – One of our testers preferred the Pierre Hermé, and two preferred Ladurée.

Salted Caramel:
Salted caramel is such a delicious and unexpected flavor – and is one that lends itself very well to macarons! All 4 testers ranked salted caramel as the top flavor at both stores. While each was delicious. the key difference was between the fillings – Ladurée had a filling of actual milk caramel, while Pierre Hermé was filled with a salted caramel-flavored buttercream.
Verdict:
 Ladurée – the actual caramel made all of the difference.

RESULTS:
You can’t really go wrong with either choice. But we do have a winner. Overall, considering price, decor and overall taste, Ladurée was the champion. We can’t wait to go back!

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19 Comments

Filed under Finer Things Club, World Eats

19 responses to “The Best Macarons in Paris

  1. Yumm with two m’s. Been at Laduree inParis – the Sainte Germaine des Pres area. I love the pillars in the restaurant painted like palm trees and the skylight – it all makes one feel like you’ve stepped back into another perfect age. Lovely, lovely.
    Steve ilott – Oakville Ontario Professional Organizer

  2. You may have missed the best Macarons in Paris by not visiting Gerard Mulot. When next you return I suggest you include all three shops in your taste-off.

  3. Michael, did you really think we would try all the macarons this time? We need reasons to go back! We’ll definitely try Gerard Mulot next time – thanks for the recommendation!

  4. Melody FU

    Hi! Ever heard of Aoki Sadaharu? he got shops in Paris too, and his macarons and tasty. Try sadaharu’s next time . — THANKS for the recommendation 😀

  5. Molly B

    Jean-Paul Hevin were definitely my favorites! It’s right off of Rue de Rivoli near Champs-Elysees. Best cake+filling combination, even though Laduree had some pretty darn good filling flavors:)

  6. The small local shops have much tastier and more delicate macarons than the glitzy mass-produced ones. I tried 30 shops in Paris and Ladurée and Pierre Hermé did not even make my top 10. The best was Pascal Pinaud at 70 rue Monge in the 5ème. Unrivalled for flavour, texture, and particularly the balance between the outside and the filling, neither of which should dominate. These are less sweet than the more “famous” shops, so that the flavours can speak for themselves.

  7. We were just in Ladurée today, agree on the salted caramel (which was also my favourite flavour ice cream in Berthillion). The lemon was also excellent, the liqourice might have had just a bit more taste. I didn’t like the coffee one much.

    Will try some of the others before I go home in a week and a half, thanx ppl 😀

  8. freddie

    hi love your article
    i have one naive question. will macarons survive a 13 hours international
    flight cos i will be in Paris and i am quite worried that they will melt during my flight.
    Kindly advise

    cheers

  9. eatingtheworld

    Hi Freddie – Thank you for your nice comment! I think macarons would survive the flight without melting, but the bigger worry is that they do not get crushed, since they are pretty delicate. If you are able, you may want to put them in your carry-on bag.

  10. Lisa

    Hi!! I have to agree, Gerard Mulot is the best. I even changed my flight in order to go there. It’s closed Wed. I just returned home two days ago. I had two boxes of 9, and they survived very well and taste delicious. Mulot chocolate is AMAZING as well. Love the article!!

  11. Cricket

    Cricket says,
    You are all wrong! The best macaroon in Paris is from Carette on the Place de Trocadero in the 16 and it is without a doubt, the caramel fleur du sel. Ladurree is for amateurs!
    http://www.carette-paris.com/

  12. They may not be your favorite, but we doubt that Ladurée deserves to be called amateur. Thanks, though, for letting us know your favorite – with all the strong opinions this post has generated, we’ll have lots of options next time we are in Paris!

  13. Michael miller

    Carette is great. Loved the salty caramels, must agree. How about rose/ vanilla at Hermes?

  14. "Zara"

    If you ever decide to do a part II on macaron testing… could you test out Jean-Paul Hévin, please?

  15. Luís

    A good parisian style macaron is a great an addictive thing, but I must confess that I still prefer the more rustic and simple macarons from St.-Jean-de-Luz, that many consider to be the original version of these famous cookies.

  16. In the more classical flavours it’s true that Ladurée wins. But Pierre Hermé’s flavours are much original and unique.
    I did a ranking of some of Pierre Hermé macarons, check it out!
    https://foodtravelworld.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/ranking-pierre-herme-macarons/

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