What are Your Best Macarons in Paris?

It has been a while; a while since I actually dug into my purse and paid for a few macarons in Paris. About time? Well, when you’re hooked on making them at home and can indulge in your own favourite flavours, there comes a point when not many macarons come in to the house from outside.

There are some exceptions. Friends sometimes pop in with a few macarons from Pierre Hermé and Ladurée, often upsettingly crushed from transporting them around Paris on a sweltering summer afternoon. Once a whole mixed box of macs merged into one crispy, gooey, melted mosaic. On other occasions, we’ve disguised bashed ex-beauties by serving them as blind tastings. This has helped to choose my personal favourites.

It’s subjective, isn’t it? You will have your own preferences and, like music, it can also depend on your mood and if you’re feeling fluffily fruity or in need of an intense chocolate pick-me-up. It’s what YOU prefer that matters.

I have a good enough excuse to do a macaron crawl: this Thursday will be my first walk as a Docent (don’t you love that name?) for Context Travel’s Parisian Culinary Tours. I’ll be taking chocolate and macaron-lovers around St Germain-des-Prés for the Chocolate Walk.  As you can imagine, I won’t just be ‘covering’ chocolate…

Another reason is that people often ask, ‘So, what are your favourite macarons in Paris?’ Or, more often, ‘Are you more Ladurée or Pierre Hermé?’

Nibbling at Laduree’s macs by the Seine

Following on from tasting macs on Macaron Day in Paris a couple of months ago with talented artist, Carol (ParisBreakfasts), it was time to catch up on some of the other Parisian macaron boutiques who were not taking part.

For those of you like me who love light macarons, Ladurée’s macarons are slightly crispy with just enough soft, fondant centre. Some flavours are more up-front than others and I do prefer those that pack a wham-in-the-mouth tasting punch.  Their classics such as orange blossom, cassis-voilet and vanilla are definitely worth a try. Their latest from Les Incroyables seasonal collection include chocolate pure Ghana and strawberry marshmallow candy (fraises guimauve.) My daughters thought they were good, but found the strawberry candy a bit on the sweet side and were not keen on the stretchy marshmallow. But who can really value their opinion when they don’t exactly have French manicured nails?

Laduree’s latest fraises-guimauve (strawberry candy marshmallow ) macaron

Pierre Hermé’s macarons are so different to Ladurée. For the fan of the softer-meringue macaron with a filling as big as the shells, most macaronivores go for his Isaphan, the rose-raspberry-litchi invention he made while at Ladurée, inspired by the Isaphan rose that grows in Iran.

The Ispahan macaron is now out of season (since 25 March) but in his seasonal theme, Les Jardins, try the predominantly Rose with Jasmine. My latest favourites, are Infiniment Jasmin (Jasmine flower and tea) and Infiniment Vanille (try the pastry version too.) Acquired taste, perhaps, but enjoy the chocolate-foie gras with Champagne, darlings.

Signature macarons from the Cafe Pouchkine in Paris

If you’re visiting Versailles or checking out the latest fashions from Printemps in Boulevard Hausemann, then a sumptuous stop at the Café Pouchkine is a real taste of Russian luxury. Their macarons, either with shiny metallic tops or with their signature duo-coloured circles, could have you indecisive between the pistachio with a strawberry heart or the strawberry with a pistachio heart, and so on. Och, decisions – but as the price mounts up quickly as they’re placed in a bag, you can’t help wondering about your choice. One thing is for sure, our family favorite was the good old plain raspberry, which was packed with fruit and not as heavy as the other varieties. Meanwhile, it did put Hugo & Victor’s macarons in the background from the ones we tasted.

I did already mention Sadaharu Aoki on the Macaron Day post, but I couldn’t resist returning to taste his sesame, genmaicha, houjcha and wasabi macarons. Exquisite.

Matcha choose from Sadaharu Aoki, Paris

If you’re into chocolate, then Pierre Marcolini‘s chocolate macarons are a must – especially as the finest chocolate he uses is made by himself. Impressed? You soon will be with his variety of chocolate wonders (sorry, my photos were poor, taken at night and we attacked the whole box at an alarming rate.) Incidentally, le Figaro newspaper recently ran a chocolate macaron tasting and concluded that the best chocolate macarons in Paris were by Jean-Paul Hévin, Carette (Place des Vosges), Hermé, Aoki, Dalloyau, Lenôtre, Fauchon, Ladurée then Dominique Saibron in the 16th. As I said, it’s all a question of personal preference, time to get around them all – and ahem, budget.

Voilet lovers should try Marcolini’s powerful voilet macaron fully coated in dark chocolate. This is a technique also used by pastry chef, Sébastien Bouillet with his Maca’Lyon. Not far from Marcolini is Un Dimanche à Paris, where Pierre Cluizel’s macarons are so light and beautifully perfumed. I particularly love the vanilla and lime-ginger but I recommend tasting them all!

More macarons from Un Dimanche a Paris

Well off the tourist track, hides yet more macarons treasures.  In the 17th, off rue de Rome on rue Legendre, is Acide Macaron where the Parisians stock up on their macarons.

Service with a white glove and groovy colorful squiggly lines at Acide macaron

Pastry Chef Jonathan Blot works with 3 other associates, making all his macarons backstage.  They are smaller than all the other ones I know but I love how they’re just big enough to taste. His Yuzu was just as good as Aoki’s one: incidentally he gives all of his macarons first names. Yuzu is Jonathan; Anonyme certainly didn’t taste anonymous with punchy pistachio and orange blossom floating through. My daughter, Julie, was chuffed that the bubblegum macaron had her name written all over this vibrantly flavored gem – perfect since she wears a brace and so had been in denial. Acide even do a weekly special: this week’s riz soufflé (puffed rice) certainly was as it promised.

There are far more macarons out there to be discussed in more detail; and chocolate; and pastries – all with a dusting of history and techniques. Next time you’re in Paris, join me on the Chocolate – Macaron Walk for much more.

Remember! Now that the temperatures have soared in Paris, do yourselves a favour: use a cute cooler handbag to cart around your macarons in style; I’m getting these for my macaron friends so there will be no more macaron mosaïc mush! I’ve scouted around and found some pretty chic yet practical ones – check out this new Macaron Accessories category. It’s cool!

My wallet has had a fright and so it’s back to making macarons at home. In any case, I can’t taste as many macarons as that in one week: I have to keep up with the slender French ladies, you know!

So – what are YOUR best macarons in Paris?  Join in with your favorite macaron flavours on Facebook.

Go on, I’ve showed you mine, now show me yours!

More related links: Macaron tastings in Paris with Adam of Paris Pâtisseries.

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47 Responses to What are Your Best Macarons in Paris?

  1. Krystian August 28, 2013 at 19:26 #

    Pierre Herme. And nobody else. When real life starts to be too much and I’m having a break from making macarons, I go to London Selfridges to buy a box of macarons, a small bottle of champagne and then I go back home and spend hours talking to my partner, eating macarons and sipping champagne. Pierre Herme’s flavours are so innovative like trufles & hazelnut, rose, lychee & raspberry, cherries, tonka bean & lemon, mandarin & cucumber water, I mean my heaven looks like his shop.
    And there’s some unashamed lust in his macarons. Once my partner and i went to Paris especially to try his new creation (honey & chocolate) and we were lucky enough as it was The Macaron Day so we had a walk thorugh all macaron shops in Paris and tried so many that we couldn’t eat the dinner.
    I’m not a huge fan of Laduree’s macarons. I’m very sorry if i hurt somebody by writing that, but for me Laduree is just using the name as the quality of the macarons is not as great as the brand itself. The macarons are falling apart upon slightest touch, the feeling is chewy and stringy. Well, maybe there is someone who loves their macarons, but for me, it’s not what I am looking for in a macaron.

  2. Jenna August 20, 2012 at 02:50 #

    Hi Jill,
    We are planning our first trip to Europe and planning to spend a few days in and around Paris. While I am excited to try some of the “tourist” macaron shops, what are some of the lesser known shops that would be worth a try? I am so looking forward to this trip and would love some tips. =)

    • Jill August 22, 2012 at 20:07 #

      Jenna, to be honest most of the places are mentioned here since Acide, Christophe Roussel, Marcolini, Pain de Sucre etc. are not touristy and have good macarons. Where I live at St Germain-en-Laye (worth a visit only 25 mins on RER out of Paris) I would highly recommend Pascal le Gac’s macarons. I swoon just looking at them in the window. Enjoy your trip!

  3. Eugenia Cheng July 28, 2012 at 19:09 #

    For me the small local shops have much tastier and more delicate macarons than the glitzy mass-produced ones. I tried 30 shops in Paris; Ladurée and Pierre Hermé did not even make my top 10. The best was Pascal Pinaud at 70 rue Monge in the 5ème. Unrivalled for flavour, texture, and particularly the balance between the outside and the filling, neither of which should dominate. These are less sweet than the more ”famous” shops, so that the flavours can speak for themselves. Of course everyone has their own preferences. If you want a “shopping experience”, a long queue, and beautiful packaging, and “creative” flavours, go to Ladurée or Pierre Hermé. But if you want macarons that are lovingly handmade by one guy, with an outside that is delicate but does not simply vanish as soon as it hits the tongue, and an inside that is rich but does not over power the outside go to Pinaud and tell them “On tutoie les anges”.

    • Jill August 6, 2012 at 08:43 #

      Eugenia, thanks so much for sharing the address on Pinaud and the expression to speak to the angels, “on tutoie les anges” is brilliant – I’ve heard that before describing Champagne, so we’re on the same wavelength! I didn’t mention it in my post here but I have some personal favourites outside Paris here around St Germain-en-Laye that are not known on the tourist macaron trail and I can tell you that they are GOOD. But would tourists be willing to jump on a train and visit St Germain, 25 mins out of Paris? There are so many other things to see here too… Next time I shall detour in Paris in the 5th!

  4. Angela July 12, 2012 at 20:04 #

    This is exactly the information I was looking for! We are planning our first trip to Paris in September and I am extremely excited. I don’t know if my family will agree, but I am secretly planning an entire day of Macaron exploring!

    Thank you again for this valuable information and I am glad our paths crossed from the Mactweets blog : )

    • Jill July 12, 2012 at 20:11 #

      So glad this helps, Angela, and even happier you’re coming to Paris! Have fun.

  5. Magic of Spice June 9, 2012 at 00:25 #

    Look at all of those colors, now that is a walk I would love to take!

    • Jill July 12, 2012 at 23:17 #

      It is fun – I love doing them!

  6. Ivy June 6, 2012 at 12:28 #

    Jill unfortunately the only macarons I have tasted are those I made from your cookbook and loved them. Travelling abroad is not an option for us Greeks any more, so I will have to imagine them through your descriptions.

    • Jill July 12, 2012 at 23:17 #

      Ivy, it’s not unfortunate. You can still enjoy macarons and make your own concoctions with Greek favourites. Even better, I would say, but let’s keep that to ourselves, shh…

  7. Jacqueline@HowtobeaGourmand June 4, 2012 at 12:08 #

    The Chocolate Walk sounds like a blast Jill! Last time I was in Paris I went to the Sadaharu Aoki counter in Galeries Lafayette. The only problem I couldn’t just stop at having the macarons, I had to try a few extra gateaux, well you know how it goes :-) I didn’t know about
    Pierre Marcolini macarons so I’ll be heading there for my macaron feast the next time je suis a Paris :-)

    • Jill June 4, 2012 at 17:49 #

      I know the problem only too well, Jacqueline. Oh, aren’t these the best problems? I’ve just bitten into an amazing Java, spicy hinted chocolate (Criollo) from Marcolini. See? I was tempted not just with the macarons…

  8. Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake June 4, 2012 at 10:27 #

    I’ve never been to Paris which is such a shame! I’ve been wanting to go for a long time but there’s never a change to go…
    I have been to Laduree in Tokyo though and I absolutely loved that. Would love to go on a macaron tour in Paris some time. :)

    • Jill June 4, 2012 at 17:48 #

      Jenny, let’s hope you can come to Paris sometime soon. I’ve always wanted to go to Tokyo!

  9. Kim - Liv Life June 1, 2012 at 03:00 #

    Oh what a treat!!! I just love the colors of the macs, and when I come to Paris (someday!!), Liv and I are going to take your tour!!
    Love the idea of a macaron bag…
    Wish we were having your warm temps, while it’s nice here, I’m ready for some summer heat!

    • Jill June 4, 2012 at 17:47 #

      I’d love you to come too! What happened to our heat? Perhaps since your comment we’ve done a heat swap. Paris has cooled down again. Quoi?!

  10. Lisa @ tartedujour.com May 31, 2012 at 14:28 #

    Jill, I totally get the obsession with macarons! You are blessed to live in the vicinity of so many wonderful treasures as these gorgeous macarons! The best part is the inspiration you must get from experiencing these gems. No wonder you are the queen of macarons!! (not the queen of “macaroni” that my spell check wants you to be)

    • Jill June 4, 2012 at 17:46 #

      You get macaroni too? Too cheesy, our computers. Thanks Lisa. Yes I am lucky for the inspiration here. I’m no queen. Just having fun!

  11. Yvette May 29, 2012 at 22:49 #

    Dear Jill, I sincerely hope you are going to organize a Jour du Macaron tour next year. Can I please make a reservation for 4 girls already? I would love to find out the less ‘famous’ patissiers and would be great to go out there with you!

    • Jill May 30, 2012 at 11:07 #

      Thanks! I need to plan, Yvette, since there are a fair number already! Only one thing: Jour du Macaron doesn’t necessarily include the less ‘famous’ pâtisseries: it depends which ones decide to join in the game on the day; the less known ones I can cover at any time, thankfully! I’ll get organizing.

  12. Lora May 29, 2012 at 22:41 #

    I would so love to do this walk with you. Next time I’m in Paris. I’m in!

  13. Nami | Just One Cookbook May 29, 2012 at 18:25 #

    Hojicha, Genmaicha (both green tea!), and yuzu!!! Those macarons of course got my attention. I’ve seen yuzu but the first two are SUPER unique!! My gosh I think I need one week just to taste at different stores there. Not to mention I want different kinds of macarons at each store, you know. How many can you eat at once? I probably better not to tell my number until you tell me! LOL.

    • Jill May 29, 2012 at 18:50 #

      Nami, I’ll be dead honest with you: I can only eat 3 at a time (or less, depending on how heavy the mac is!) That’s why I take away, relish the flavors, enjoy and then make myself and so go at my own pace.

  14. Liz May 29, 2012 at 01:42 #

    Oh, wow!!! SO many options…what fun! You know you’ve put me in the mood to do a mass sampling…and in less than a week, I plan to eat my fair share :) Wish we could have worked in a chocolate walk…LOL, it sounds fabulous… especially with you at the helm!

    • Jill May 29, 2012 at 10:04 #

      Never mind, Liz. I mentioned this too late by the time you organized your short trip but that gives you another excuse to return…

  15. Amy @ FragrantVanillaCake May 29, 2012 at 01:33 #

    Wow…look at all of these delicious macarons! Jill, you are making me hungry with this post! I so wish I could come with you on your tour, it sounds like so much fun…and getting to taste all of this deliciousness would be wonderful!

    • Jill May 29, 2012 at 10:03 #

      I wish you could join us on the tour too, Amy. One day…?

  16. Emily @ Life on Food May 28, 2012 at 19:06 #

    I would have such a sugar stomachache to sample all of those macarons. I like the classic flavors so I guess that it a start. As always, stunning photos.

    • Jill May 29, 2012 at 10:02 #

      Emily, I agree. That’s why I need to taste them for you. Anything to help. :-)

  17. Claudia May 28, 2012 at 18:10 #

    I’m trying to decide how to explain to my husband that I would like a very expensive trip to Paris solely to eat macarons.

    • Jill May 29, 2012 at 10:00 #

      Claudia, if it helps your argument, many chocolates are also involved – and pastries, with a dusting of history, techniques, discussions…

  18. Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef May 28, 2012 at 03:48 #

    What a fantastic tour that will be! I’ll start saving my pennies and buy a drool cloth so I’m prepared when that happens.

    • Jill May 29, 2012 at 10:01 #

      Maureen, on the tour there is no time to drool so no need to buy extra gadgets ;-)

  19. Tina@flourtrader May 27, 2012 at 22:52 #

    After seeing this, I have decided that it would take about 3 lifetimes to sample all the wonderful different kinds of macarons out there. You do have some magnificent choices here. Also, congrats on the Docent gig-very fitting for you I would say! Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

    • Jill May 29, 2012 at 09:58 #

      Thanks, Tina. And as the macaron seasons change, there are even more to taste and compare and discuss… I am so looking forward to doing these chocolate walks!

  20. Paula May 27, 2012 at 20:24 #

    This post should be printed and tucked into everyone’s luggage who travels to Paris. If I ever do go back there (lived in France as a child) I will be trying some of these macarons you mentioned…after I have my fill of French breads and cheeses that is ;)

    • Jill May 29, 2012 at 09:57 #

      Don’t get me started on the breads and cheeses and hams and so many other French specialities… so much to appreciate here. Lucky you to be here as a child. It’s a mecca of tasting sensations, Paula.

  21. Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen May 27, 2012 at 19:34 #

    What a gorgeous maca…rainbow, Jill. If you need an assistant for your next macaron tasting tour of Paris, I’m free!

    I am intrigued by the flavours of the Aoki macarons but each and every one of them look delicious. I also love the Les Jardins theme. Lovely post!

    • Jill May 29, 2012 at 09:55 #

      So many themes, seasonal macaron changes, so much to keep up with – I wish you could assist me, Hester. It’s tough.

  22. Vicki Bensinger May 27, 2012 at 19:18 #

    Jill I wish I could cast a vote but have only ever tried Laduree macarons and those I made myself. I much preferred the homemade because they weren’t as dry. You’re the expert so besides your own can you share your favorite or maybe it’s best not to?

    Anyway how fun to be a docent and tour all the macaron boutiques in town. They should charge a bit more so they can walk away with your book.

    • Jill May 29, 2012 at 09:51 #

      I think many people that come to Paris just make for Laduree or Pierre Hermé – but there are so many more amazing places to visit, Vicki. I’ve mentioned some above, but much more and my favorites are revealed on the tour (apart from the homemade, of course ;-) )

  23. parisbreakfast May 27, 2012 at 18:49 #

    YIKES!!!
    I need a few hours to study this exhaustive etude!
    wow wow wow
    The pain of eating all those maccies..I feel for you.
    I love the half eaten ones…
    you have been PINNED!
    xxxcg

    • Jill May 27, 2012 at 18:52 #

      Pinned up or down? ;-) I was exhausted just eating through them all, Carol… somebody had to do it.

  24. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 27, 2012 at 15:19 #

    Jill this couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me. As I start to think PARIS (just over a month to go!) and plan my time around my La Cuisine Paris classes, I am on the lookout for new tours to take and this seals the deal for me! Booking one of these right now! Though I suppose it won’t be you leading it in July? Thanks also for the “bonnes adresses” for macarons. I needed some new ones! Printing this post out and placing it in my Paris file!

    • Jill May 27, 2012 at 18:06 #

      Glad to be of service, Mardi :-) I figured that with so many people coming over to the City of Light for holidays soon, this would be useful as a starting point, although I go into far more detail on the walk. If you would like me to lead you on a tour, you can specify it on the website at Context Travel and I’ll do my best to accommodate! Otherwise, there are many other docents who could look after you.

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