Before we ever set foot in Paris, I knew that we would be headed to two famous French pastry shops, Pierre Hermé and Ladurée, to sample French macarons. Just in case you haven’t tried a French macaron yet, they are a meringue based confection (pretty much a cookie) customarily made with almond flour, usually found as two pieces sandwiched together with a flavored buttercream or ganache.
I tried my first macarons in the U.S. a few years ago and it’s hard to resist trying them whenever I go to a new bakery or pastry shop that carries them. However, U.S. made macarons are rumored to be inferior to the ones actually made in France. And now that I’ve tried the French ones, I can safely say that this rumor is true. The French ones really are better. They’re better looking and better tasting. And talking about them makes me want to jump on the next plane to Paris for a few more of them.
While were in Paris, we were lucky enough to visit the Pierre Hermé shop in the 15th Arrondissement on four or five occasions as it was located just a few metro stops away from our hotel. The croissants and pain au chocolat from Pierre Hermé are fantastic and I tried my very first Canelé there as well – but the real reason any visitor to Paris (or London on Tokyo, since there are shops in those cities) needs to visit Pierre Hermé is to try a macaron. Or maybe to try 4, 6 or 8 macarons. I’ve seen pictures of the lines at some of the Pierre Hermé shops snaking out the door and down the street, but we were fortunate enough to never have to wait in line for more than a few minutes. But I would gladly stand in line in the street for these macarons.
We did visit Ladurée (and I’ve got pictures of those macarons to share later) but in my opinion, the Pierre Hermé macarons are better. The Ladurée ones are wonderful and way better than any you’ll find that were made in the U.S., but the Pierre Hermé macarons were just a little bit superior. And just a little bit more perfect looking.
We bought macarons on two separate visits and tried a total of five different flavors: chocolate, salted butter caramel, chocolate and caramel, milk chocolate with passion fruit and vanilla. Which one was my favorite? Vanilla. It was the most full of vanilla flavor thing I think I’ve ever eaten. The salted butter caramel was a very close second though.
Just to taunt you, here are more pictures of what I think might be the best French macarons in France.