Ladurée in Paris
Most people go to Ladurée for the fresh macarons: a sweet meringue based confection filled with a ganache or buttercream. Crunchy on the outside, moist and soft on the inside, the classic small round macaron originated in France. Ladurée has been making macarons since 1862 and is the most well-known brand in the world, if not the most elegant. With more than 20 flavors offered in the most beautiful ribbon covered pastel boxes ever made, Ladurée macarons can make you feel like Marie-Antionette at Versailles.
Years ago when I visited my first Ladurée shop, I really wanted to love macarons – they looked exquisite and were beautifully packaged – but I never developed a passion for the little cookie cakes. Instead, I fell in love with the gift boxes and love nothing more than looking at the pale green box on my desk or giving the ribbon-covered gold draped green box of macarons as a gift. As disappointed as I was in myself for not liking macarons (how could I not like a dessert presented so beautifully?), I was able to move on and discover other great products produced by the master French house.
I go to Ladurée for two things: the shopping bags and the pastries, especially the “pain pistache abricot” (puff pastry with a pistachio and apricot filling in the form of a cinnamon roll). In keeping with the company’s fashionable gift boxes, Ladurée makes practical but stunning insulated large black vinyl shopping bags. Rectangular in shape with a velcro strip across the interior top to keep the bag closed, the bag screams “chic” while keeping cold foods chilled.
Over the past five years, I have received more comments and inquiries about my black Ladurée bag than any other accessory (except my rain boots but that’s another story). Even the guys that graciously pack my groceries at Whole Foods like my Ladurée bag and that says something because most guys don’t notice shopping bags. The bag sells for 18 euros ($22) in the Ladurée shops in Paris. Ladurée also makes an insulated lunch bag size perfect for the little fashionista but if black is not your preferred color, choose from a colorful variety of shopping totes displayed in the shops.
Ladurée has six shops in Paris and 27 stores around the world, including one on Madison Avenue in New York City, which carries the shopping tote bags. The company’s website does not offer on-line ordering options so you have to visit one of the shops, or call the New York store and ask if they will sell a tote bag over the phone and ship it to you. For a complete list of store locations and addresses, click on the link below. The address of the New York store is below:
864 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10021
One final recommendation: If you are in Paris, consider having a late morning snack, lunch, or an afternoon pick-me-up at one of the Ladurée restaurants called “tea salons” (addresses listed on the website) connected to the bakery counter. The food (especially the Club Champs Elysees: thin toasted crustless bread points with a light coating of olive oil, rocket greens, very thinly sliced parmesan cheese, tomato, zucchini, eggplant, pine nuts, and mozzarella cheese served with homemade thick cut french fries and dressed salad) is fabulous and the menu choices are quite extensive. Or, enjoy one of the many pastry works of art that taste as wonderful as they look. Don’t pass up the exquisite “Millefeuille Fraise” (a strawberry Napoleon): layers of buttery, flakey puff pastry filled with pastry cream (créme pátissiére) and fresh sliced strawberries. After admiring the beauty of this delectable dessert, accept there is no easy or neat way to devour a Millefeuille Fraise; take a fork and knife and dig in.
Breaking News: A Ladurée restaurant will be opening in NYC next year, according to our wait person in the tea salon at the Ladurée at the Printemps de la Maison Haussmann (64, Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris). New York City will never be the same. I can already imagine the lines.
Update: February, 2014: The bakery and restaurant opened sat 538 West Broadway in Soho. The store also sells the large black insulated shopping bags for $30.