The list of fine foods and pastries associated with France is long and illustrious. One could spend an endless number of brunches debating whether L’Atelier de Éclair or L’Éclair de Génie has the best éclairs, but when it comes to macarons there need be only one man you go see and that’s Pierre Hermé in Paris. Who else but a magician could envision combining beads of Petrossian caviar with fresh walnuts in a petite macaron?
It should come as no surprise that Pierre Hermé is a macaron wizard. Four generations of pastry making perfection have helped coax Hermé along in his craft. While more traditional flavors like infiniment citron (a lemon flavor) and infiniment caramel (a salted butter caramel) dance on the tongue, it’s quite easy during a visit to Pierre Hermé to throw caution to the wind and to venture into uncharted flavor explosions.
In the name of research, we tried seven different kinds of macarons. One macaron was by far the craziest and that would be the truffe blanche & noisette macaron. This was partially because it’s aromatic truffle required it to be exiled from the rest of our macarons lest it could contaminate them with truffle. (Truffle contamination sounds like the kind of contamination you hope for.)
Here’s how the flavors we tried stacked up:
- Truffe Blanche & Noisette (It’s number one because it smelled amazing and required its own packaging.)
- Jardin Enchanté (A lovely combination of lime, raspberry and espelette pepper all rolled into one tasty morsel. It basically tastes like summertime or the best bite sized margarita ever.)
- Ispahan (The sweet lychee and the juicy raspberry flavors in this macaron temper the floral aroma of the rose.)
- Framboise & Pain D’Épices (We may have downgraded this one just a tad because it seems like cranberry ought to be accompanying the sharp bite of the gingerbread in this macaron, but we still liked it because it tasted like Christmas.)
- Mogador (This macaron mixed milk chocolate and passion fruit together. The chocolate mellows out the passion fruit flavor quite a bit.)
- Chocolate & Foie Gras (The taste of this macaron is subtle, but it certainly earned it’s stripes in the quirky department. Can’t say we ever expect to encountered another chocolate & foie gras macaron again.)
- Caviar Petrossian (We’ll happily dole out an “A” for effort here. Like the foie flavor, we highly doubt we’ll ever bump into another macaron that takes Petrossian caviar and combines it with a walnut liqueur.)
Interestingly enough, Pierre Hermé’s first boutique opened in 1997, in Tokyo, Japan. (Which shouldn’t really be that surprising given the Japanese penchant for sweet treats. We’re particularly fond of the stunningly gorgeous tsukimi dango or “moon cakes” crafted by inventive kitchens like Minamoto Kitchoan.) Hermé’s Parisian boutique arrival came three years later.
While the Haut-Marais location isn’t the mothership boutique, its stunning layout of circles and half swoops feels like a veritable Willy Wonka wonderland for grownups. Our favorite design element is the macaron selfie window near the front entrance.
The Enfants-Rouges district store was crafted by Jeff van Dyck of Jeff van Dyck Design who designed the signage in the Lyon airport and has even worked with a number of high end fashion brands like Van Cleef & Arpels.
If macarons aren’t your thing, we feel badly for you, but thankfully Pierre Hermé has loads of other options.
In fact, Pierre Hermé is the first place we’ve ever encountered the luscious beauty of a 2,000 feuilles. (France in renowned the world over for its take on the decadent mille-feuille. A mille-feuille by definition is a feat that can only be attempted by the most practiced and patient of pastry chefs. When executed correctly this “thousand leaves” dessert consists of layer upon layer of flaky fragile deliciousness that must be consumed immediately. We’re not kidding. Grain de Vanille in Cancale, France takes its mille-feuille so seriously that you’re not allowed to walk out the door with a slice unless you promise to consume it the very same day.) A 2,000 feuilles, as you might imagine, is a towering thing of pastry beauty and we dove head first into ours as soon as the box landed in our sticky little macaron paws.
…and then there’s the ice cream.
Ice cream with baby macarons, need we say more?
If your dreams often consist of flaky pastries and fresh loaves of bread, visiting Paris where you can literally spend a night in a boulangerie is an obvious must. If you’re searching for a temple to divine treats, consider savoring a macaron or five at Pierre Hermé while you’re in town.
Address: 4 Rue de Bretagne
75003 Paris, France
Hours: Monday Through Saturday 10:00am to 8:00pm, Sunday 10:00am to 7:00pm
Phone: +33 (0)1 43 54 47 77
Pricing (All in Euros): Macarons €2.20 to €3.50 Per Piece, A Slice of 2,000 Feuilles €7.30, 180ml Container of Ice Cream €7.20, 940ml Container of Ice Cream €34