From what I can find online, it looks like the battle of the best macarons seems to be waged between Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. Now that we have the former in London, I was on a mission to get some from the latter in Paris. After we were kicked out from the Louvre (we did not cause a ruckus; it closes at 6pm), we made our way to the branch of Pierre Hermé on rue Bonaparte, about 15 minutes walk away. As it was a weekday and not far from closing time (they close at 7pm), there was no queue. Unfortunately, they had run out of their famous croissants by then – oh well, I’ll have to go back!
When you enter the shop, you’re presented with many jewel coloured confections in the display cases on the left. Cakes to feed 10, individual pastries, boxes of bite-sized macarons, rows of larger ones…and then the cash till. On the right hand side, there’s a row of shelves with chocolates and candies and baskets of Viennoiserie in the back (well, empty baskets by then) and rows of Christine Ferber jams in the front. Her jams are quite legendary from what I’ve read online and these jars on offer are made using the flavour combinations that Pierre Hermé himself uses in his patisserie. Of course, I had to take home one of those jars! After much deliberation, we chose the gorgeous confiture montebello, with its two layers of pistachio cream and strawberry jam.
After further perusal, I wanted one of the Ispahans, his creation involving rose, raspberry and lychee. It’s the beautiful ruby coloured delight you see below – a large rose macaron sandwiching rose flavoured buttercream with bits of lychee and whole raspberries.
And then of course, the main reason why I had dragged poor Blai all the way there…the macarons! As there were ten flavours, I figured one of each wouldn’t be too unreasonable! Seven were placed in a box and the three extra were placed in a bag. Here’s a tip – if you’re going to be doing any kind of travelling with macarons, just get boxes – the three in the bag got a bit too squished. Of course, this doesn’t affect the flavour at all!
After paying for our goodies, we walked up and across the road to a bench in front of a church (which was totally under scaffolding last weekend). There, we annihilated the gorgeous Ispahan. The scent of rose wafts up your nostrils as you take a bite and then the sweet and tart raspberries squish under your tongue and then within the cream, little bits of juicy and fragrant lychee surprise you. Oh, I want another. The smaller macarons we took back to London where day by day a few would disappear (but not without recording every little detail of each, almost to a scientific level) – wow. I’m still a fan of Ladurée’s macarons but those from Pierre Hermé beat theirs in terms of originality!
72, rue Bonaparte
There’s another branch at 183, rue de Vaugirard.