Once upon a time in Paris, there was a well-dressed young woman traveling with her friends who could not eat gluten. Not eat gluten in Paris?! The horror! The agony! The baguettes and the croissants… oh my! But our heroine persevered. Pastries and crepes may have been off-limits but we’re forgetting one very important thing Paris is also famous for – the macaron. And so, one dreary morning our savvy celiac went out and scoured the streets of Paris (but really had a map and knew exactly where to go) to find the legendary Laduree macaron emporium and Pierre Herme patisserie, proving that alls well that ends with macarons and a trip to the Paris opera house.
Palais Garnier opera house, Paris – toured the same day as my macaron adventure!
DISCLAIMER!** Now it should be mentioned here that the majority of macarons have never been officially considered “gluten-free” or labeled and approved and all that nonsense but the ingredients are almond meal, egg whites, sugar, etc. Nothing too terrifying to be sure (just a looot of empty calories, but whatever) and nothing in the cookie comes from wheat or gluten. The fillings, however, could be another story. Almond pastes have been known to contain gluten as well as cookie-like fillers (speculoos, graham crackers for a “pie” or “smores”, for example) so choose wisely and don’t be afraid to ask what is in the cookie! Traditional recipes never include gluten but fillings differ place to place. You don’t need to brush up on your French, you just need common sense aaaand probably a gluten free French dining card.
Now that I’ve cautioned you all and made you completely aware that I am probably the worst celiac ever – let’s talk macarons!
Macarons from Pierre Herme – Apple w liquor, rose, passionfruit chocolate, chocolate fois gras
I know that Laduree is world famous and all that but of the 5 (yes, I got 5 macarons just at Laduree and at them ALL mwuhahahaaa!) macarons I got I would say 2 of them were a bit underwhelming. I’ve never met a macaron I don’t like so I would go as far as to say I wouldn’t eat more right now if I had the chance, but the interesting flavor combinations, atmosphere and texture of the macarons at Pierre Herme had me absolutely swooning with delight.
I had too much fun editing macaron photos taken in the Place de la Concorde
The line at one of Pierre Herme’s Paris patisseries was out the door when I got there at 10 am on a Sunday but the line moved quick enough while still allowing me time to drool over everything. I oogled every single pastry and cake as I moved towards the macarons and was assisted by a very nice girl who was happy to tell me about the macarons and their various ingredients. At first, she thought I was French (haha!) but my blank stare quickly sorted out that problem, and when I ordered a chocolate fois gras macaron she asked me if I knew what fois gras was and was I sure I wanted it? (Mind you not in a condescending way, I think she was genuinely concerned I wouldn’t like it.) But the fois gras was easily the weirdest, most delicious and most beautiful macaron there – in the photo above it is the the deep pink with chocolate filling and you can’t see all the beautiful gold dust on it. I also grabbed two containers of loose leaf teas on my way to the head of the line to bring home for my mom and I as a special Christmas treat. Needless to say, the tea is just as delicious as the macarons were but has lasted much longer and made a great souvenir.
Laduree’s iconic bag and a vanilla rum macaron
Now on to Laduree! I took my Pierre Herme bags already full of tea and macaron and headed straight for Laduree a few locks towards the Seine. The decor of Pierre Herme is modern in black, white and orange and somehow not Halloween-y at all but Laduree is strictly old school – I imagine it is like walking into a tea room straight from the Victorian Era. I adored it. Everything is pastel and gorgeous and unlike Pierre Herme, Laduree focuses mainly on the macaron (but also has a line of compotes and sweet sauces, which of course I indulged in). I got a rum vanilla, coffee, pistachio, hazelnut and pineapple creme something (seasonal as well) to try. The cafe was incredible, as was rum vanilla and hazelnut but the other two left me unhappy. Pistachio is one of my favorite flavors but was dry dry dry. And the pineapple was just okay. The gifts I bought there (rhubarb compote, salted butter caramel sauce, and raspberry marshmallows) were all amazing as well and just such a charming little store I went in twice to buy more little things (whoops!)
After my stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens, down Rue Bonaparte to both patisseries and across the Seine, I settled down near Place de la Concorde to wait for my friends and slowly eat half my macarons while taking tedious notes (which of course I promptly lost.) Overall it was just the perfect (and most expensive – so many gifts!) morning in Paris.
Pierre Herme | 72 Rue Bonaparte, Paris, France | +33 1 43 54 47 77
Laduree | 21 Rue Bonaparte, Paris, France | +33 1 44 07 64 87