Best Macarons in Paris: Pierre Hermé

Who knew such an innocent looking item could cause such a fuss? But this delicate, meringue-based confection has divided a city. Ask a group of Parisian where to find the best macarons in Paris and you may have a fight on your hands.

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Macarons are one of Paris’ top attractions; they’re a firm part of Parisian culture. But where to find the best macarons in Paris is a big question. En route to a dinner party, some swing by Gérard Mulot to arrive with a box of multi-colored treats in hand. Others won’t take a bite without seeing the name Pierre Hermé on the box. More still will argue right through to the digestif that Arnaud Larher produces the most marvelous macarons, while the line up outside Ladurée tells a different story.

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Well, at the risk of committing a grand faux pas, I’m going to weigh in on the argument as a foreigner. Yes, being an Englishwoman, fancy desserts may not run in my blood — as a nation we gave the world the shamelessly undainty Eton Mess, Banoffee Pie and Jam Roly-Poly Pudding — but as someone who has loitered around more than her fair share of stores selling sugary satisfaction, I feel qualified enough to declare: Pierre Hermé wins, if only by a crumb.

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Paris is home to twelve Pierre Hermé boutiques. While most stock macarons and chocolates, a couple offer wonderfully extravagant pastries and at Le Royal Monceau Raffles Hotel you can have your macarons served on a china plate during afternoon tea.

The boutique on rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie in Le Marais opened in 2013, making it the city’s 7th stand-alone Pierre Hermé store.

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The shop looks good enough to eat. The chocolate brown décor is splashed with color. Picked from the shop’s trademark border of colored blocks in yellow, pink, orange and red, the colors mirror the vibrant chocolate boxes behind the counter. The chocolates inside are deliciously indulgent and deserve a tasting trip of their own, but I was visiting with one confection in mind.

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The boutique in Le Marais is bigger than those on rue Cambon and rue Bonaparte. It’s a trade-off: it feels less cozy but there’s more room for macarons. Lots of macarons.

Row upon row of perfectly round, multi-colored confections await a sugar-hungry public. Standing in a line that curls its way around the store, the people speak excitedly, high-spirits clearly induced by the promise of an approaching sugar-high.

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Macarons are candy for grown-ups. An elegant dessert that’s perfect for dinner parties and just as cool as cupcakes, part of their appreciation comes from knowing how difficult they are to get right. These delicate desserts require a practiced hand and an expertise in balancing flavor.

Many have marveled at how Pierre Hermé comes up with his innovative taste combinations. The man that Vogue called “the Picasso of Pastry” readily admits that his inspiration comes from a pure appreciation for sweets and sensations, fine foods and fragrances. I have an inkling that coming from a long line of pastry chefs and training under the master pâtissier Gaston Lenôtre may have contributed to his success.

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His achievement can also be attributed to a deep understanding the of role of ingredients. Realizing that flavor comes from blending different elements, quite surprising for a creator of desserts, Hermé often uses sugar like salt: sparingly, as a flavor enhancer rather than the flavor itself.

At Pierre Hermé, there are three breeds of macaron: the classic, the unique and the beautifully bizarre.

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To truly understand the allure of the macaron, you must begin the classics. Pierre Hermé executes the Infiniment Pistache to perfection: a bright, beautiful green, slightly nutty, not too sweet. The Praline Noisette reveals strong accents of cooked caramel and end notes of hazelnut, while the Infiniment Citron fills the senses with a delightful hint of lemon.

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Following that delicious jaunt through the macaron’s beginnings, you’re ready to try something different. This is where Hermé truly shines: in the creation of original flavor combinations that work together to produce something wonderful. The Truffe Blanche et Noisette, white truffles fused with hazelnut, release the truffles’ intoxicating aroma followed by a sweet white chocolate ganache and an unexpected finale of hazelnut.

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Finally, if you’re feeling adventurous, Pierre Hermé would like to take your taste buds to new realms with two fois gras macarons. Yes, you read that right. Sandwiched between almond cookies, the silky fois gras filling with its pungent flavor is quite unique. Perhaps more of an acquired taste, but in my mind these fois gras macarons embody everything that is Pierre Hermé: delicious, creative and so delightfully French.

Charlotte Claxton

Charlie is a freelance writer who specialises in travel, luxury and food. Having earned her chops as a staff writer for international travel brands and digital marketing companies, she now writes for freelance clients and runs her own travel blog. Charlie grew up in London and has since lived in Canada and Australia. She currently writes from various cafés, hammocks and beaches as she travels the world, bringing LuxeInACity readers first-hand insight into the best luxury experiences worldwide. Get to know Charlie better at www.charlieclaxtonwrites.com

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