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I have a weakness for sweets, and nobody does them better than the Parisians, with their delicate, perfectly balanced treats that you eat with your eyes as much as with your mouth. Here are my top picks.
1. Pierre Herme
Famous for his macarons in unusual flavour combinations that somehow work, like the Mogador, a surprisingly pleasant blend of milk chocolate and passionfruit. Perhaps his most famous creation is the Ispahan, a giant rose flavoured macaron filled with rose petal butter cream, lychees and raspberries. The bright red, brilliant pink and off white palette have won me over before I have even taken a bite, and when I do, my tastebuds confirm what I had already surmised from the flavour combination and the visual appeal – this is one of my all time favourite desserts! Pierre Herme’s macarons are just as they should be, having a delicately crisp yet light and melt in your mouth shell with a slightly gooey centre and a light cream filling. In the Ispahan, the richness and textures are further balanced with the addition of fresh soft fruits, with the slight tartness of the raspberries cutting perfectly through the sweetness of the other components. So good it deserves not one but two photos.
72 Rue Bonaparte, St Germain des Pres – 10am-7pm daily, to 7.30pm Friday and 8pm Saturday
185 Rue de Vaugirard, St Germain des Pres – Mon-Thurs 10am-7pm, Fri-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 9am-5pm
4 Rue Cambon, roughly midway between the Place de la Concorde and Madeleine – 10am-8pm daily
39 Avenue de l’Opera, steps away from the Opera Garnier – 10am-8pm daily
Galeries Lafayette 1st floor, 40 Boulevard Haussmann – 9.30am-8pm daily
I’m a sucker for presentation, so Laduree’s Marie Antoinette-esque stylings in whimsical hues of pinks and mint green with a splash of gold have a special place in my heart. “Let them eat cake?” she says. Why, don’t mind if I do! Laduree’s Ispahan gives Pierre Herme’s version a run for his money. Personally, I think that Laduree does the rose flavour better, however Pierre Herme’s macarons have a more pleasing texture and his Ispahan has a punchier lychee flavour. At Laduree, I also recommend the French toast for breakfast, rose flavoured tea and the strawberry dessert pictured below. Too cute to eat!
And if you’re feeling like something cold instead of coffee or tea, close to the Champs Elysees branch is the Laduree bar where you can order ice-cream filled macarons and macaron cocktails! To get there, turn left onto the side road just before the main entrance – you will see the bar entrance to your right.
21 Rue Bonaparte, St Germain des Pres – Mon-Fri 8.30am-7.30pm, Sat 8.30am-8.30pm, Sun and public holidays 10am-7.30pm
16-18 Rue Royale, between the Tuileries and Place Vendome – Mon-Thurs 8am-7.30pm, Fri-Sat 8am-8pm, Sun and public holidays 10am-7pm
75 Avenue des Champs Elysees – Mon-Thurs 7.30am-11.30pm, Fri 7.30am-0030am, Sat 8.30am-0030am, Sun 8.30am-11.30pm
13 Rue Lincoln (Laduree bar) – daily 10.30am-11pm, to midnight Fridays and Saturdays
Versailles – daily except Mondays 9.30am-6pm 1 April-31 October, to 5pm 1 November-31 March
3. Sadaharu Aoki
This is recommended for those who enjoy more Asian flavours like black sesame and green tea. My favourite is the genmaicha flavoured macaron. I love the slightly bitter flavour of the green tea balanced by the wheaty aroma and popcorn-like flavour of puffed grains of brown rice.
35 Rue de Vaugirard, St Germain des Pres – Tues-Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm, closed Mondays
Galeries Lafayette 1st floor, 40 Boulevard Haussmann
4. Le Notre
Gaston Lenotre is renowned for revolutionising the field of pastry making by reducing the cream and lightening the mousses. So popular are his desserts that versions of several of his creations are still produced to this day in patisseries worldwide, for instance the Opera, an almond bread with coffee cream and chocolate frosting. Mr Lenotre opened his first bakery in Paris in 1957, and over the years has built a vast empire which includes a cooking school that has trained many of France’s leading pastry chefs including Pierre Herme, who apprenticed there at the age of 14. My first encounter with Le Notre was on a friend’s recommendation of the restaurant on 10 Avenue des Champs-Elysees roughly midway between the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre. Despite not having a prior reservation, we were warmly welcomed as walk-ins and experienced impeccable service with quality savoury and sweet dishes. Imagine my delight, then, when I realised there are several Le Notre branches studded throughout Paris that function as a gourmet deli where you can pack a picnic or a selection of goodies for a quiet night in at your hotel/apartment.
So good it needs another picture to show you what’s on the inside – as far as I could tell, a gel layer over a vanilla/white chocolate ganache encasing a raspberry sponge filled with gooey sticky raspberry jam and topped with a plump ripe raspberry
36 Avenue de la Motte Picquet, near Ecole Militaire – 9am-9pm daily
10 Rue St Antoine, Bastille – 9am-9.30pm daily
One for the chocolate lovers, Angelina is said to serve one of the best hot chocolate in Paris, though I must confess I have never tried it myself as I find it difficult to pass on the deliciously inviting desserts on offer. This tearoom was founded in 1903 by confectioner Antoine Rumpelmayer, who named it after his daughter-in-law. The signature hot chocolate is a special blend of three different types of cocoa from Niger, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Their signature dessert is the Mont Blanc, a meringue with light whipped cream encased in chestnut paste.
19 Rue de Vaugirard, at the Luxembourg garden – daily 10am-7.30pm, from 9am Mondays and Fridays
Galeries Lafayette 1st floor, 40 Boulevard Haussmann – daily 9.30am-6.30pm except Sundays and public holidays
Palais des Congres, 2 Place de la Porte Maillot – Mon-Fri 9am-7pm, weekends and public holidays 10am-7pm
Versailles – daily except Mondays 10am-6pm 1 April-31 October, to 5pm 1 November-31 March
Well, these are some of the patisseries I frequently visit each time I find myself in Paris. Please let me know your other recommendations so that I can discover a new favourite for myself!
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