Best Paris Macarons: Ladurée vs. Pierre Hermé
By Madison Mastrangelo
Two miniature sugar discs held together by a splash of garniture to form a delicate sandwich. This heavenly creation, better known as the macaron, symbolizes Paris and French culture. A trip to Paris is not complete without sampling these deceptively simple treats.
While nearly everyone agrees that macarons are delicious, a debate ensues over which powerhouse sells superior macarons: Ladurée or Pierre Hermé? I decided to settle this age-old debate by subjecting myself to the arduous task of the macaron taste test.
Which macaron maker will be named the king of macarons in all of Paris? Follow me on my journey through the 6th arrondissement to find out!
First Stop: Ladurée
21 rue Bonaparte | 75006 Paris |France
With its sage façade, Ladurée’s distinct storefront on the corner of rue Bonaparte is impossible to miss. Macaron towers decorate the pristine glass windows and carefully arranged rows of Ladurée’s popular creations dot the display case. Examining the more than 25 flavors of macarons, my hardest decision is which flavor to sample. Raspberry (framboise), praline (praliné), or perhaps the classic vanilla (vanille)? The trays of these perfectly-shaped sugar circles seem nearly endless.
After weighing my many options, I choose one of their most popular flavors: pistachio (pistache). My light green macaron matches the shade of Ladurée’s iconic bag and storefront.
I take a small bite, trying to savor the taste of this tiny treat. The crunch of the outer shell dissolves in my mouth and gives way to a burst of flavor. The ganache is smooth and lends a nutty taste to this delicate treat. I devour the pistachio macaron in mere seconds, leaving a rumpled green bag and a few crumbs in its wake.
Second Stop: Pierre Hermé
72 rue Bonaparte | 75006 Paris | France
I bounce down the street to tackle the second part of my taste test: sampling a macaron crafted by Pierre Hermé. While I had visited Ladurée in the past, this pastry tasting will include my first visit to Pierre Hermé. After listening to my host mom rave about this macaron boutique, I am curious to discover whether it will live up to the hype.
My first impression of the store is, admittedly, lackluster. Unlike Ladurée’s eye-popping façade, the building that houses Pierre Hermé blends in with the handful of stores on the street. A small sign denotes the macaron powerhouse, but I feel underwhelmed by its unexciting, modern exterior.
Once I enter the minuscule store, I am dazzled by the array of unique flavors. In the interest of making the competition as fair as possible, I decide on a pistachio macaron here as well. This vivid pink and green macaron is a pistachio macaron with a twist: half-raspberry, half-pistachio.
I take a bite of my multi-flavor treat and immediately taste the raspberry ganache. With an exceptionally airy outer shell, this soft and fluffy macaron breaks without a crunch. Unlike Ladurée’s meringue-like texture, my Pierre Hermé macaron is chewy and has a much smoother interior. While the taste of raspberry overpowers the hint of pistachio, this macaron is simply delicious. As the macaron quickly disappears, I find myself wishing that I had splurged on a few more colorful creations, especially the mouthwatering passion fruit and chocolate macarons on display.
In this battle of the bakeries, it is nearly impossible to declare an overall winner. I’ll always have a sweet spot (pun intended) for Ladurée, but I must admit that Pierre Hermé lived up to my quite high expectations. As I preferred parts of each macaron brand, I divided my verdict into four prizes: Best Atmosphere, Most Creative, Best Variety, and Best Taste.
Best Atmosphere: Hands down, Ladurée takes the cake (or, rather, the macaron) for the best atmosphere. From the perfectly arranged display cases to the charming tea room, Ladurée exudes a sense of elegance. Their trademark branding is instantly recognizable, and their macarons are iconic.
Most Creative: Pierre Hermé boasts exotic flavors and unexpected combinations. Inventive flavors, such as the chocolate and foie gras macaron, cannot be matched. If you are looking for a spin on the classic macaron, head to Pierre Hermé to taste its infamous flavor combinations.
Best Variety: While Pierre Hermé holds the title for exotic flavors, Ladurée has an unparalleled variety of macarons. These more recognizable flavors, such salted caramel and orange blossom, are often simple. However, the vast array of options allows each visitor to find the perfect flavor.
Best Taste: After much contemplation, I bestow Pierre Hermé the prize for best taste. Pierre Hermé’s soft, smooth macarons are a step above the meringue-like texture of Ladurée macarons. Pierre Hermé’s fluffy macarons melt in your mouth, and the adventurous flavors are simply unbeatable.