Best Macarons in Paris: Ladurée or Pierre Hermé?

Posted on 13. Feb, 2012 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, France

In my book, any excuse is a good excuse for a sweet indulgence. And macarons are no exception, especially in the City of Lights.

best macarons in paris

Pierre Hermé or La Durée? 

But when you want to have the best macarons in Paris, where do you go? With so many choices it’s hard to pick just one - but most guidebooks and locals agree that the competition is mainly between Ladurée and Pierre Hermé, both famous for their high quality products.

I have once again sacrificed myself in the quest of finding out which one has the very best of these heaven-sent sweet goodies. You’re welcome.

Both companies have several branches over Paris and beyond. I visited Ladurée on Champs-Élysées, and Pierre Hermé in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. To say that the two stores were world apart is an understatement - on one hand, you have this romantic, ornate 1800s decor and on the other, ultra modern sleek lines and dark colors. Both were equally beautiful (and employees equally rude, but hey, it’s Paris), but I feel that La Durée definitely fits the whole whimsical macaron experience a little better. The tea rooms in Ladurée were also extremely appealing!

best macarons in paris

But when it comes to macarons… it’s all about the taste, right?

My stupid taste buds and I are a bit on the conservative side when it comes to tasting new things - shocking, for a traveler, I know. I found that Pierre Hermé’s selection was a bit on the small side and overly adventurous, however I did appreciate the classic French flavors like crème brûlée. But mixes like olive oil and mandarin were just too much for me! Ladurée has a wider, more varied selection that goes from traditional pistachio to unusual pear & chestnut, so it pleases all kinds of crowds.

In the end, out of the 5 macarons I picked at Pierre Hermé , I only really liked the crème brûlée one. I found the taste too strong and almost too artificial to be true in all others, sadly (and, gasp! I didn’t even like the chocolate one!) I did find that the macarons were thicker and in overall prettier than Ladurée’s, but like I said earlier, it’s all about the taste and little else. With that in mind, my vote definitely goes out to Ladurée.

Not only are the macarons less expensive, they also taste better and come in all sorts of fun packages. Ladurée may be a bit touristy, but it’s only because they are the best macarons in Paris!

My favorite flavors?  Salty caramel, blackcurrant, pistachio and vanilla. These taste like heaven!

What are your thoughts on this? Ladurée, Pierre Hermé or others? Are you a fan of macarons or sweet treats in general? 

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25 Responses to “Best Macarons in Paris: Ladurée or Pierre Hermé?”

  1. Edna

    13. Feb, 2012

    I wasn’t a fan of sweets before I moved to Paris, and now I can’t get enough of macarons and chocolate! That being said, I’m a Pierre Herme fan. I love their concoctions (I thought olive oil and mandarin was delicious!) and thought the salted caramel was better there than at La Duree. But I only went to each store once, so I guess I’ll just have to go back and try some more to make sure….!

    Reply to this comment
    • admin

      14. Mar, 2012

      Ohhh that’s too bad - indeed a second tasting is in order. What we’ll do in the name of science!

      Reply to this comment
  2. Marie-Julie

    13. Feb, 2012

    Quelle question, Pierre Hermé sans AUCUNE hésitation!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Valérie

    13. Feb, 2012

    I also prefer Ladurée!! Was a bit dissapointed by some of Hermé’s flavors when I went this summer…

    Reply to this comment
    • admin

      14. Mar, 2012

      Same here. I found them too audacious and actually not very well-done. I prefer Ladurée’s classics.

      Reply to this comment
  4. D.J. - The World of Deej

    13. Feb, 2012

    Oh well done….Thank you for your tireless research:)

    Reply to this comment
    • admin

      14. Mar, 2012

      My spare tire and I welcome you. We were happy to sacrifice ourselves in the name of science :)

      Reply to this comment
  5. Robin | Melange Travel

    14. Feb, 2012

    I’ve done similar taste tests myself which you can read here: http://mymelange.net/mymelange/2008/01/macaron-frenzy.html and Ladurée always comes out on top! They have the complete package - taste, flavors, consistency and the overall look of their boutiques.

    My favorites are salted butter caramel, cassis and raspberry. Now I’m drooling…..

    Reply to this comment
  6. Sophie

    15. Feb, 2012

    Ladurée’s rose-water macarons win :)

    Reply to this comment
    • admin

      14. Mar, 2012

      See I’m not a fan of rose or violette - reminds me of bath products, and somehow I can’t get past that taste! I prefer real food flavors :-P

      Reply to this comment
  7. Laura

    18. Feb, 2012

    Though I’ve been to Paris twice, I never tasted the macarons. Now I see them everywhere on blogs and I’m hardly waiting to go back ;)

    Reply to this comment
    • admin

      14. Mar, 2012

      How can you go to Paris twice and NOT have macarons? :-P You must fix this NOW!

      Reply to this comment
  8. Such pretty, fun desserts! Like Laura, I don’t think I actually had macarons when I was in Paris.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Stéphane

    20. Feb, 2012

    I agree with you for the taste: Ladurée wins. But for the shopping experience, I’ve been to Ladurée rue Royale and Pierre Hermé St-Germain (Ladurée’s queue was much longer !) and I definitely prefer Pierre Hermé. The store was much younger and more modern, as Ladurée was more classic and girly. But when it comes to fancy desserts, aren’t the girls the ones to please ?

    Reply to this comment
  10. Nomadic Samuel

    26. Feb, 2012

    Oh, those look delicious :)

    Reply to this comment
  11. cheryl

    26. Feb, 2012

    YUMMY! Macaroons are one of my favorite indulgences and you are making me realize (again) that I need to get to Paris. :)

    Reply to this comment
  12. Eugenia Cheng

    28. Jul, 2012

    The small local shops have much tastier and more delicate macarons than the glitzy mass-produced ones. I tried 30 shops in Paris; Ladurée and Pierre Hermé did not even make my top 10. The best was Pascal Pinaud at 70 rue Monge in the 5ème. Unrivalled for flavour, texture, and particularly the balance between the outside and the filling, neither of which should dominate. These are less sweet than the more ”famous” shops, so that the flavours can speak for themselves. Of course everyone has their own preferences. If you want a “shopping experience”, a long queue, and beautiful packaging, go to Ladurée or Pierre Hermé. But if you want macarons that are lovingly handmade by one guy, with an outside that is delicate but does not simply vanish as soon as it hits the tongue, and an inside that is rich but does not over power the outside go to Pinaud and tell them “On tutoie les anges”.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      30. Jul, 2012

      Thanks for the suggestions!

      Reply to this comment
    • Cristina

      05. Mar, 2013

      Eugenia! I’ve actually been to that one in the 5th and absolutely agree. I picked up 4 boxes of macarons which he packaged for me to carry on my flight home. The nicest gentleman I must say and the tastiest sweets but what I remember most is that I had the warmest conversation with a french person who was genuinely interested in where I came from, how I enjoyed the city and where I was going. He was not turned off by yet another english-speaker in his shop, as most parisiennes can be :(

      Reply to this comment
      • Marie-Eve Vallieres

        08. Mar, 2013

        What a sweet story! Indeed, friendly Parisians are very memorable, there are so few of them!

        Reply to this comment
  13. Cristina

    05. Mar, 2013

    I’ve never tried Pierre Hermé but I have had macarons from Ladurée. I still think Ladurée is a bit pricey. When I was there a year ago they were 2.50Euros each! But I guess it’s a fair price for real craftsmanship

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