Le Touquet – where France meets England over Macarons

It’s more likely to be in the Eurotunnel or over a football match.  But this weekend – birthday partying in between – as most normal people were drawn to cafés and bars to watch the World Cup on big screens, I was drawn instead to this pâtisserie window. Well, wouldn’t you if you’re mad about macarons?

macaron window display at Serge's in Le Touquay, Normandy, France

England is closer to Le Touquet than us ‘southerners’ in Paris.  This swanky coastal resort, known as Le Touquet-Paris-Plage in the Pas-de Calais, is only a straight 2.5 hour drive on the A16 from Paris yet it’s next door to Calais to jump on the Eurostar to London, and even closer a drive along the coastal road to Belgium.  So, when Serge Leveau decided to change direction from restaurants and open his own pâtisserie, Arts Gourmands on one of the main streets in Le Touquet, he picked a great location.

macaron vase display patisserie window Le Touquay Normandy France

This may sound weird, but do you also love stacking up macarons, one by one, until it’s in the dangerous falling zone? He manages an impressive macaron tower of 11 or 12! Forget the flowers, this is a lovely decor idea: macarons in a giant vase.

choice of designer eclairs by Serge in Le Touquay, Normandy France

Serge Leveau is also an éclair genius. His lovely wife tempts you with gleaming fondant-coated varieties such as pistachio, Mars, Bounty, Twix, Saffron, Lagavulin (och, who can resist that one, Jimmy?), cherry, Strumph, chocolate, espresso and Madagascar Vanilla.  Incidentally, I also bought the fattest, juiciest looking Tahitian vanilla pods/beans. Tahitian are much subtler in flavour than Madagascan – I can’t wait to try them out at home, even if I do prefer more up-front flavours. 

Guimauves - artisanal marshmallows by Serge, Le Touquay, Normandy

Eyeing the pastel-shade guimauves, I hauled myself away just with éclairs for tea-time and would get the rest tomorrow (well, I was supposed to be celebrating a special dinner so no need to over-do it!). 4 o’clock. On the dot. Goûter time with our éclair picnic on the windy beach. Without the cup of tea. I wish he had a tea salon.

picnic on le Touquay Normandy Beach, France

 As it’s right in the midst of cherry season, I had to pounce on this beauty with its cherry melting on to the brilliant fondant.

Serge’s fillings are generous, light, creamy and flavours extremely subtle. For chocolate fans, his éclairs have a film of either white or dark chocolate as a base.

pistachio eclair filling

Sunday I popped back to the shop to stock up on the macarons, whose flavours were calling.  Check out this packaging for a box of 12 macarons.  La Classe.

Creative macaron packaging for 12

Carried away (why does that always happen in pastry shops?) I bought more than I ‘needed’.  Well, I had to taste the espresso macarons, the violet, speculoos, apricot, rhubarb and one of my personal favourites, coquelicot: French poppy. What would you choose?

apricot macarons by Serge, Le Touquay

Starting with the subtle and sweet apricot and rhubarb, the French poppy had more fragrance as I prefer. Who loves speculoos? I’m saving that until last.

When I asked Serge if he made his macarons using French or Italian meringue, his cheeky, smiling answer was “My own way.”
Well. Then.

apricot macarons and pistachio by Serge, Le Touquay, Normandy, France

I was seriously contemplating attacking these fresh cherry guimauve marshmallows with my café-crème and croissant breakfast but luckily, Serge let me taste a little beforehand so self restraint ruled.  I also bought a whopping 85% chocolate spread – this one is for the adult squirrel corner and well away from any of the kids’ sweet Nutella!

cherry marshmallows handmade in Le Touquay, Normandy

Four éclairs for er, three of us.  To be honest (ok, I’m lying), I forgot that our eldest is on a German exchange and it was reflex, Sir. Honest it was.  Caribbean 66% chocolate (which was very low on sugar for the chocolate to shine through), Poppy, Espresso (this was our winner as it was slightly stronger in flavour than the others) and Lagavulin.

gourmet eclairs

And this is how the sweet weekend ended on Father’s Day: a Lagavulin Whisky éclair with its extra syringe of Scottish Malt (a double whisky?).  Ah, the Auld Alliance!  Where France meets Scotland over an éclair.  For a Franco-Scottish macaron, don’t forget I have a MacClair (Coffee and Whisky) macaron recipe in the book on page 84.

A touch of Lagavulin Whisky eclair by Serge in Le Touquay Normandy

Cheers!

Let’s just say I may just need another dose from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. There’s still a chocolate factory and the Tarte au Sucre to discover next time…

Arts Gourmands
80 rue de Metz
62520 Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

street pianist playing in Le Touquet, Pas-de-Calais, France

Have a tuneful week!

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10 Responses to Le Touquet – where France meets England over Macarons

  1. Parisbreakfast June 21, 2014 at 19:44 #

    I’m very tempted too. Let me get on line.
    And the plage looks heavenly.
    Bonne Anniversaire?!

  2. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef June 21, 2014 at 05:15 #

    Lagavulin is my father-in-law’s favourite single malt. He would squirm at the thought of that exquisite drink in a cookie. :) Maybe it doesn’t cost as much there. LOL

    What a lovely shop to visit. I’d have to lock my money in the hotel safe before I went or I’d spend it all there.

  3. Jean-Pierre June 19, 2014 at 21:22 #

    How did I miss this place when I was last there? Need to return and discover it. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Martyn June 18, 2014 at 10:18 #

    I visit here every year I normally stay in a small village of Wamin a few miles away. Its a lovely area and a truly scrumptious patisserie!

  5. Thomasina June 17, 2014 at 21:50 #

    I love the photo of the eclair with the cherry on top – I really want to eat it now! Like how Serge said he made macarons “my way”. I bet he didn’t even listen to Frank Sinatra.

  6. Jamie June 17, 2014 at 18:27 #

    Wow wow wow! I say this must be the first time I’ve been tempted to visit le Touquet! Fabulous! And I want….. all of the éclairs! I would love to try the one with whiskey and the one with cherry on top. Covered in chocolate, of course. And the guimauve! Gorgeous though I would skip the Schtroumph! Thanks for the visit, Jill!

  7. Lucy Bridgers June 17, 2014 at 08:39 #

    So love Le Touquet – and those éclairs look delectable. Will head directly to Arts Gourmands when we’re next there.

  8. Liz June 16, 2014 at 21:49 #

    You’re really tempting me here, Jill! I’m thinking how I can persuade Bill to take another holiday to France..and squeeze in a side trip to London and Belgium and this patisserie! My dad adores Lagavulin and I wish I could send him an eclair :)

    • Jamie June 17, 2014 at 18:29 #

      Oh Liz, how about after Tuscany? :-) With a stop off in Nantes! Right on the way!

  9. Lake Lili June 16, 2014 at 21:45 #

    Ooohh… I’ve never suffered éclair envy before… I never dreamed éclairs could be so inspiring… Another patisserie for my list… That list is expanding as fast as my waist-line will. I am intrigued though with the concept of a rhubarb macaron. How was it? Was the flavour in the filling or in the shell? Thanks again for taking another for the team.

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