On a trip to Paris I will often return laden with bags of clothes. I do find it hard to resist Parisian shopping, particularly when it is soldes. Forget the boutiques and French style though, this time though the one thing that I wanted to bring back from Paris was a box of Pierre Hermé macarons. Hermé is the undisputed king of patissieres in Paris right now. He is so hot that it hurts and no self respecting foodie can go to Paris without paying homage at the temple of Hermé. Like a fashion designer, Hermé brings out a new collection each season so there is really no excuse for not visiting on every trip just to see if there is a new flavour that you have not yet sampled.
During August, the flagship Pierre Hermé shop is closed however you can get your macaron fix at the smaller Rue Cambon store. Just around the corner from Laudrée, the store is all sleek shiny black lines and bright white display cases glowing with brightly coloured macarons which sparkle like precious jewels. The macarons don’t come cheaply (€24 for a box of 12) but each one is a miniature work of art in its own right. If you visit at a time other than August when Hermé is in full operation you can pick up some Hermé genius at a bargain price by ordering a croissant. The price of croissants is regulated by law in France as a basic commodity and so Hermé’s croissants are an affordable €1.50. You have to love a country where a chocolate croissant is a basic commodity!
Back to the macarons, the flavours that really stood out for me were the more experimental and adventurous such as the huile d’olive and vanille. Personally I would never have thought of ordering a macaron flavoured with olive oil however somehow it works, the savoury flavour of the olives cuts through the sweet vanilla and is perfectly presented in crispy pastry shell which crunches into a soft cloud once you bite in. Another highlight was the fruit de la passion et chocolat au lait (passionfruit and chocolate) macaron. The shell of the macaron is a golden yellow colour with brown speckles evoking the inside of a passionfruit and once you bite in you swear that you are eating an actual passionfruit as a zing of sweetness hits your tongue only to be softened by the creamy chocolate filling.
As for the more traditional flavours such as the plain chocolat or berry, in my view Ladureé’s version is just as good (in fact, and it may be heretical to say this, the chocolat at Ladureé may be slightly superior to Herme’s. Good news for Londoners since Ladureé is available here. While a part of me wishes that there was a Pierre Hermé store in London, I also like the fact that there are some things that you can only get in Paris. It makes any visit there a little bit more special when you can experience something that you can’t anywhere else in the world (well, besides Tokyo where Hermé also has a store). Just make sure that you pick up a box before heading home as Pierre Hermé macarons are still the ultimate Parisian souvenir.
Details: 4 Rue Cambon, 75001 Paris, France 1eme. Metro: Saint Sulpice
Gourmet Traveller Tips
I stayed at hip hotel Mama Shelter, a Phillipe Starck designed wonder out in the 20th. Housed in a converted garage each room has a slick imac which you can watch DVDs on, TV or use the internet, there are Kiehls toiletries in the bathroom and basically it is designer heaven. Rooms from €89.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my review of the macarons at Ladurée in Paris.