The Best Macarons in Paris
In recent years, these lovely little pastries from France have become a big hit in many other countries. Many of our tour guests want to know more about them and ask where to find the best macarons in Paris.
In Paris, a city known for being a pastry-lover’s paradise, the first day of spring has been dubbed “Jour du Macaron,” or Macaron Day, celebrated with free macarons at select pastry shops around the city. This special day is about more than your sweet tooth: to be given a free macaron, you must give a donation in support of a good cause.
This relatively recent tradition was started in Paris in 2005 by pastry chef Pierre Hermé. Macaron Day is now celebrated in many cities around the globe. Previously unknown in other countries or perceived to be an exclusively French treat, macarons are now not hard to find in many countries. Indeed, macarons have become very trendy overseas, to the delight of the French macaron makers, some of whom, including Pierre Hermé, have opened shops in big cities in Canada, the United States, Australia and around the world.
It’s not hard to see why we all love macarons—they’re light as air, come in all sorts of vivid colors and refined flavors, and their creamy-crunchy-chewy texture, crispy on the outside and moist and soft in the middle, gives us something gorgeous and luxurious to indulge in. The macarons shells are made of three ingredients: almond flour, egg whites and sugar. After they’re baked, the shells are filled with creamy ganache, the French version of butter frosting, that is flavored with any of hundreds of different essences, ranging from orange to chocolate, coffee, caramel, coconut, and many “new age” combinations, such as the current special flavor blend at Pierre Hermé, “Citrus Fruits, Espelette Chili Pepper and Lemon.”
The Macarons : French Gastronomic Gift to the World
The true history of the macaron is shrouded in mystery, but there are legends as to where this tasty treat came from. Some say it was brought in a very basic form to France from Italy by Catherine de’ Medici and her Italian pastry chefs when she married Henry II in 1533. We’ve heard that the popularity of macarons exploded in France in 1792, when two Benedictine nuns, in hiding from the post-revolutionary, anti-religious orders French government, lived at the home of a local doctor in Nancy, where they made and sold macarons to survive.
French macaron makers guard their secret recipes closely. Nicolas Génot, who runs Maison des Soeurs Macarons (House of the Macarons Sisters), insists that the recipe of the Nancy nuns was secretly passed down through the ages, eventually ending up with him. He claims, therefore, that the macaron recipes used at his patisseries are the originals.
In modern-day France, macarons continue to be the best-seller they long have been. Macaron-makers still agree that good macarons are timeless. However, some of the shops offering these trendy and sophisticated confections have updated them with modern and unique flavor combinations.
Different regions of France, especially Nancy, Reims, Saint Jean de Luz, Chateaulin, Boulay, Montmorillon, and Amiens, have developed their own recipes for the macaron, and together, have made the macaron a now world-famous gourmet specialty of France.
When you come to Paris, consider stopping at any of the following spots, known for some of the best macarons in all the land:
- Pierre Hermé
- Arnaud Larher
- Arnaud Delmontel
- Jean-Paul Hévin
- Gérard Mulot
- Hugo & Victor