Naturally, one can’t come to Paris and not try macarons, especially if you’re a dessert fiend like me. Maracons are easily accessible in almost every corner of Paris from everyday cafes to speciality stores. Two of the most well-known brands specialising in macarons are Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. Both have a strong fanbase but I’m curious to see if there is a substantial difference between the two.
Having landed my first day in Paris, I didn’t want to stroll too far to get my macaron fix and conveniently enough, there was a Ladurée store within a reasonable walking distance. Ladurée is very classically decorated with pastel colours and gives the impression of the quintessential Parisian pâtisserie. The line up wasn’t too bad as I only waited 15 minutes. During that duration, I picked up a small pamphlet to decide which flavours I wanted. The flavour options were the traditional vanilla, chocolate, etc and the macarons tended to sport one flavour, maximum two. I ended up choosing the pistachio and salted caramel macarons.
Ladurée’s Rating Results
- Appearance: wider and flatter shape
- Texture: crunchy and brittle
- Filling to Meringue Ratio: filling was more on the stingy side
- Flavour: Nice classic flavours but can be one-dimensional
Overall, I thought the macarons were decent but didn’t wow me. The pistachio and salted caramel both had tasty flavours but were a tad too sweet. It’s still a good option if you’re in close proximity to the neighbourhood.
On the other hand, Pierre Hermé’s macarons stole my heart! Hermé comes from a lineage of Alsatian bakers and actually apprenticed with Ladurée before venturing on his own. Known for his wildly creative and bold flavour combinations, it’s no surprise that Vogue gifted him with the title “Picasso of Pastry”. I arrived at his boutique within ten minutes of opening time and already a giant queue was formed. Like myself, everyone was wondering if his macarons are really THAT good or it’s simply a hype.
The interior of the store was sleek and stylish and the atmosphere resembled more of an upscale designer boutique than a pâtisserie. Whereas Ladurée has a traditional ambience, Pierre Hermé sports a futuristic/modern elegance. When it came to my turn, I chose one of each as his flavours change depending on seasonality. In addition, I also chose the large Isaphan macaron that was adorned with rose petals. So what’s the verdict after the long awaited anticipation?
Pierre Hermé’s Rating Results
- Appearance: smaller in diameter and meringue shells were more puffed up
- Texture: outer meringue shell was crisp followed with a very light cotton candy texture
- Filling to Meringue Ratio: generous with the filling
- Flavour: nice contrast of flavours in both savoury and sweet macarons
I’m trying to remain unbiased, but it’s evident that Pierre Hermé is the clear winner. Although I enjoyed all of his macarons, his signature ones certainly deserve an honourable mention; Isaphan, olive oil & vanilla, and Mogador. The Isaphan also comes in the regular size sans the fresh raspberries.
The Isaphan was sandwiched between a rose infused buttercream with pieces of lychee, freeze dried raspberries, and garnished with additional fresh raspberries. I find that Pierre Hermé’s macarons are extremely fragile and easily melts the minute it hits the tongue. The lychee added a gorgeous sweetness and accentuated the floral rose buttercream while the freeze dried raspberries added an intense rush of acidity. A very Middle Easternesque inspired creation.
To be honest, I was quite hesitant to try the olive oil vanilla macaron even though it’s one of the best sellers. After trying it, I was shocked that it was actually… quite pleasant. The olive oil was emulsified into a cream and scented with Madagascar vanilla. There were also bits of green olives inside the macaron shells. Although the idea initially sounded odd, it was actually a successful blend of sweet and savoury flavours.
Last but not least, I present the Mogador. Upon the initial bite, I was hit with the rich chocolate ganache. Once the ganache started to melt the fragrance of the passionfruit started to come through and in the end note the tartness started to become very apparent.
Overall, I find that Pierre Hermé’s macarons are excellent in terms of taste, texture, and creativity. I know that some may find his flavours too out there and prefer Ladurée’s more conventional subtle flavours. The only downside is that Pierre Hermé’s stores are not located on the main streets, whereas Ladurée has boutiques near Champs-Élysées and the airport so convenience is definitely a huge factor in its appeal. But if in Paris, I strongly urge you to try Pierre Hermé, it will seriously change your life! If you have tried either brands, what’s your opinion?