Ladurée macarons are now an international sensation- who would have thought these elaborate, colorful pastries would take the world by storm as an edible representative of the luxurious Parisian lifestyle? Certainly not Louis Ernest Ladurée when he opened up a bakery in the middle of Paris in 1862, then changed it to a patisserie after almost ten years. Nor his wife, Jeanne Souchard, who later morphed the patisserie into a tea room hybrid (one of the very first Parisian “salon de thés”) where, unlike Parisian cafes, women were free to gather on their own.
Today, women don’t just gather in that original Parisian Ladurée tea room- there are newer locations in New York and Singapore, Venice and Bangkok, Dubai and Miami. Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf ate them in her bathtub while lamenting her most recent feud with Chuck. But none of them come close to the original tearoom location.
Here are my tips for the complete Ladurée Macaron experience while visiting Paris:
Skip Ladurée Champs-Élysées and head to Rue Royale.
The entire Ladurée legacy began in Paris at 16 Rue Royale when Louis Ernest Ladurée opened a bakery in 1862, when construction of the nearby Garnier Opera House was underway. and maintains still maintains its original address (just expanding from 16 to 16-18 Rue Royale) today.
Much later, following the great popularity of the flagship location, an additional Ladurée tea room and boutique on the Champs-Elysées opened up in 1997. Naturally, this second tea room’s proximity to the world’s most famous shopping street keeps it bustling with tourists. You will likely not get a table, wait in a long line just to strain and get a glimpse of the macaron display case before yelling out your to-go order and thrusting your credit card at a cashier in order to ultimately sample your confections on the stoop outside facing traffic and a bank. It’s just not worth it, y’all. Stick to the OG Ladurée on the ritzy Rue Royale and leave the Champs-Elysées location to the rest of the tired tourists in need of pretty sugar.
Opt for the full, sit down experience.
People are always shocked when I tell them that you actually pay a little less for your macarons when you go inside the restaurant, sit down and order them for the table- but it’s true! When you stand in line at the patisserie and order your macarons to go, you’ll pay an upcharge the world-famous Ladurée packaging. I suggest you pop in to the bakery to take in the ambiance and scope out the daily flavor selection and then go one door down to ask the maître d’ to be seated at a table for afternoon tea. I have never ha =d to wait to be seated on one of the tearoom’s two floors.
Use the money you saved on packaging to order a pot of tea from their extensive selection, or further embrace that sweet tooth by ordering your macarons topped with their delicious homemade ice cream. But if you still have your heart set on being able to carry that little mint green bag around the streets of Paris, just order a few more macarons than you pan to eat and ask for them to be boxed up to go!
No need to come hungry.
Ok I know it sounds strange, but just stick with me here. You know when you’re on a trip and have spent all day on your feet exploring, shopping, sightseeing, etc. and then you finally sit down to eat a meal and before you take your first bite you already know it will be AMAZING simply because you are famished and you’ve managed to finally stop and pick a place? While that may be how you secure a pleasant memory of that overpriced crepe you scarfed down besides the Eiffel Tower, that’s not how you do Ladurée.
A quintessential French delicacy, Ladurée macarons are meant to be savored and enjoyed in the very French tradition of leisurely, paced consumption. Depending on the type of filling, macarons must be aged between 24 and 72 hours in order to achieve their famous crunchy exterior and soft, chewy middle- the least we can do is take our time eating them!
This point also further enhances my previous argument to sit down and order from the tea room rather than grabbing a to-go box to eat while walking and trying to get a signal for Google Maps.
Order an assortment of classic and seasonal flavors.
You’ve come this far for the classic French macaron experience, so you’re obviously going to want to try some of the classic flavors that made Ladurée the household name it is today. At the same time, their inventive pastry chefs like to switch it up and there are usually a few fun seasonal flavors on the menu that you may never get the chance to try again. When ordering in the tea room, you can order by macaron, but it is most common to order an assortment of 4 macarons “au choix.”
Here are my top 4 recommended macaron flavors:
Pistache– Oh how the French love their pistachio flavored everything- macarons included! This is about as “classic” you can get, with the light green color of this macaron being instantly recognizable as that of the Ladurée brand. Plus, the nuttiness of the pistachio will serve as a nice balance to some of the sweeter flavors.
Caramel à la fleur de sel– This is essentially a salted caramel flavored macaron made with some very special salt that the French take great pride in. “Fleur de sal” is a hand harvested sea salt collected off the coast of the Brittany region of northwest France. Its name, literally “flower of salt,” relays its reputation as the finest and most delicate of salts. As a result, I am a sucker for this fancysweet/salty combo.
Marie Antoinette– Once I discovered that this famous blue macaron was not, in fact, blueberry flavored, but a colorful take on black tea and honey, there was no going back. The perfect blend of sweet and aromatic, I order a Marie Antoinette macaron every.single.time.
Whichever seasonal flavor sounds best– Go with your gut on this one! Blackcurrant violet and mango passionfruit are the two seasonal flavors that still return to me during my Ladurée dreams.
Bonus points if you make it to Ladurée Paris Royale during Christmas season.
If you have followed my previous advice and opted for the original Ladurée located on Rue Royale, not only will you get to take in the patisserie’s festive window displays and twinkling net lighting wrapped around the storefront- this entire street is a fabulous and ritzy festival of lights and decorations during Christmas season! Many of the neighboring designer shops will be showing off festive window displays and string lights fill the trees running along Rue Royale. As you leave Ladurée, make sure to walk through the Christmas tree-lined Cité Berryer, the little pedestrian walkway on the other side of Rue Royale tucked just behind the DIOR boutique.
“Christmas season” in Paris, at least in terms of decorations, typically runs mid-November to the end of the year. More on all the best parts of Paris to visit during the Christmas season here.