Welcome to my multi-part review of our summer vacation. We spent 12 days abroad, predominately in Athens and Paris (and a half day in Amsterdam before heading home). Happy to answer questions as I finish up the series. We traveled in mid-July, so right in the middle of the Athens financial crisis. Here’s most of what I expect to cover, including links to posts I’ve already completed:
- Planning Our Summer Vacation!
- British Airways First and Business Class Lounges at Philadelphia Airport
- US Airways Business Class from Philadelphia to Athens
- A Speed Bump Upon Arrival At Arion
- Arion Guest Room Review
- Arion & Westin Amenities
- Arion Restaurant Reviews
- A Quick Trip To The Acropolis And Parthenon
- Athens Metro System
- Temple of Poseidon at Sounio
- Swimming With The Fishes
- Restaurant Review: Garbi (Seafood)
- Restaurant Review: Kiku
- Our Two Favorite Restaurants In Greece
- Tips On Getting Around Athens Airport
- Flying From Athens To Paris
- Hyatt Regency Etoile Paris, Part 1
- Hyatt Regency Etoile Paris, Part 2
- Climbing the Eiffel Tower
- Arc de Triomphe
- Disneyland Paris
- A Study of Macarons
- Various Restaurant Reviews
- Taking The Train From Paris To Amsterdam
- Sheraton Schiphol Airport
- US Airways Business Class from Amsterdam to Philadelphia
On our first trip to Paris a couple of years ago, Catherine fell in love with macarons. This tasty, French treat can be found at so many different places in Paris. While it didn’t start out as our goal, we ended up sampling macarons from 3 different places. All were a little different and worth a stop if you find yourself craving sweets in the City of Light.
This is one of the most popular names and thus can have some of the longest lines. You’ll find locations scattered around the city with a list of locations on their website. And, if you really like them, you can find them in the US at their NYC and Miami locations.
Laduree is highly proficient at producing consistent macarons. We ate them more than once on our first trip and snagged them twice this time around, mostly because they have so many locations around the city. The outer shell has a slight crisp that gives way to a softer cookie underneath and finally a jelly or cream filling.
Pistachio is our favorite macaron flavor overall and Laduree does a fine job with the flavor. Other enjoyable choices were Lemon, Vanilla and Strawberry Candy Guimauve, with it’s crunchy sugar exterior. We also tried the Licorice (interesting), Rose Petal (not our thing), Iced Mint (tasty), Salted Caramel (yum), and Orange Blossom (interesting).
All in all, we found Laduree to be consistent every time we tried them. We found the “normal” flavors to all be spot on, whereas we had a little trouble discerning the flavors without the picture as a guide on a few of the more exotic ones.
This was our second time back to Angelina, having enjoyed their pastries and unbelievable hot chocolate the first time we were in Paris. We learned of Angelina via Gary of View From the Wing. Located a short walk from Park Hyatt Place Vendome, the line here can be quite long to eat lunch. Reservations are absolutely essential. On the day we enjoyed lunch there we also grabbed some macarons to take with us.
Angelina also has a lovely selection of pastries to go with the macarons. Both times we’ve purchased macarons we also ended up with a few pastries, all of which we found excellent. Their specialty is the Mont-Blanc which is a pastry-lovers dream consisting of meringue and chestnut cream.
Here we sampled Raspberry, Lemon, Vanilla, Pistachio and Caramel. All were delightful, with Lemon and Pistachio taking the proverbial cake. Maybe the macarons we had at Angelina were fresher, but they seemed to be a bit less dense than the Laduree version. I think they don’t chill their macarons as cold as Laduree, which may be why they seem a bit more fresh and the flavors a bit more….flavorful. They do less of the exotic flavors but execute well on the ones they offer.
Don’t forget to try the hot chocolate if you’re not there in the middle of summer. You won’t be disappointed.
As the story was told to us, Pierre Herme helped craft the recipes at Laduree many years ago but left to start his own shop. The store itself was much more modern than either Laduree or Angelina.
And the flavors were VERY imaginative. It was tough to pick which ones we wanted to sample. Grapefruit, Lime, Olive Oil and Lemon, and one that had Rose Petal, Lychee and Raspberry with yogurt. Wow!
One interesting aspect of Pierre Herme was that alongside cream and jelly fillings they also had yogurt filled macarons. The mouth feel of the outer pastry was similar but the filling was softer, almost like a stiff whipped cream or canoli filling.
A funny aside. The door of the store was such a perfectly clean sheet of glass that our daughter, Catherine, walked straight into it. She started crying a bit as she had bumped her nose. The employee serving us was mortified, noting that she had just finished cleaning the door (she obviously did a good job). She was around from behind the counter trying to soothe Catherine’s tears with a free macaron. Disaster was averted with the tasty treat.
Bottom Line It For Me, Ed
Laduree was the first name we heard when we asked where to get macarons in Paris. Given their history and number of locations, many folks will make this their first and/or only stop. If they do, I think they’re missing out on the nuances of other patiserries. I also think Laduree refrigerates their macarons a bit too much, making the cookie a bit firmer. I think you’re best waiting 15-20 minutes after purchasing at Laduree before eating.
Angelina has an exceptional variety of pastries and that incredible hot chocolate. Those factors help make an argument to be made for them over Laduree given that their macarons are just as good.
And, finally, Pierre Herme really does throw tradition out the window when it comes to flavors. The imagination behind the creations was really quite impressive.
All three represent something a little different, enjoyable in their own way. If I had to pick one overall I’d probably go with Pierre Herme for the audacity of the flavor selections. But, the best suggestion is probably to sample all of them and make your own decision. I guarantee you’ll have fun doing it. If you find any new entrants we should consider, let me know!
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