Essence of Paris

Essence of Paris

For reasons I shall coyly fail to disclose, I have been thinking about what someone could bring back from Paris as a present to a Very Wonderful Person. (Guess who the Very Wonderful Person is! If you guessed someone other than myself, you are probably right about them being a Very Wonderful Person, but in this case I had myself in mind.)

Unfortunately, many things about Paris are hard to pack in a suitcase.

The shop windows. The thousands of cafés and restaurants. The gardens.

And, alas, the macarons.

Now I have heard some people disagree with me on this. They claim macarons are better the next day, even.

NOT in my experience. And I have a great deal of experience in this matter. Like a baguette, macarons are better the same day.

So when I go to Paris, guess what is the first thing I buy?


This was from the little Paul stand in the Tuileries. Since my brother was with us on his first trip to Paris, he wouldn’t let me run straight to Ladurée. He insisted on stopping at the Louvre first.

Ma belle-mère said, “Oh, yes, you have to take your brother to the Louvre! There’s a very famous painting there. Did you know? La Joconde.La Joconde is the Mona Lisa. Sometimes I wonder exactly how deep in the woods my in-laws think I grew up.

Here is why ma belle-famille has a hard time believing I’m civilized:


A very small portion of the chocolate stains decorating my clothing within an hour of being loosed on Paris.

And the clothes weren’t ironed, either.

My mother-in-law probably goes around behind me assuring people sotto voce, “No, no, she’s quite respectable really. I know she looks like she was raised by chocoholic barbarians, but she’s a professor! An author! Really! I promise!!”

Of course, Paul was just a diversion.

I was heading on up the Tuileries toward Place Madeleine for:

my Holy Grail of Macarons:



Nearby, Fauchon was doing some odd things with its macarons.


I didn’t care. Here we are, back in the Tuileries, were a baby can play and dispute this treasure box with her mommy:


I didn’t give it to her. What??!� She’s too young for sugar! I was doing the right thing. Not selfishly hogging.� Her daddy gave her a bite, though.


So ephemeral! I can never bring them back or save them for later. And no one can ever bring them back for me either.

Does that make macarons the essence of Paris?

  • I think it does. I brought them back to Munich from Paris in my carry-on, hand-packed by the very nice Ladurée guy himself! In my carry-on! On a two-hour flight! I swear I didn’t squish them, but still, they looked sad and squished and deflated, away from their native land.

    I guess the only thing to do is eat them all while you’re still in Paris. Sigh.

    September 13, 2007 at 3:12 pm
  • Oh Laura, that’s just evil. . . . teasing the hungry pregnant lady like that. Tsk, Tsk. I hope those darn things ship well, because now I just HAVE to order some from somewhere.

    September 13, 2007 at 6:52 pm
  • Jill

    what flavor are the green ones, or are they only there to make the chocolate ones look prettier? Nice to see you again, I’ve been busy and self-absorbed. It was a treat to find chocolate here when I finally made it back (tongue firmly in cheek).

    September 15, 2007 at 9:16 pm
  • Ahhh Laduree…my future home away from home…I’m almost teary eyed just thinking about it.
    Do they ever put the filling of one color into the cookie of another?
    I can’t imagine putting off the chocolate mission trip for a view of Mona Lisa!

    September 16, 2007 at 8:26 am
  • Pistachio, Jill. My second favorite after chocolate. I got them also on the theory that my brother and everyone else with us might like to try other flavors than just chocolate, a theory that proved to be incorrect. They all complained about wasting chocolate space.

    Yes, Phyllis, sometimes, and it can be very pretty. But usually things are color-coordinated. Check out Ladurée’s site to see some of the macaron possibilities. But only if you want to torture yourself!

    September 16, 2007 at 11:15 am
  • Anne-Gaelle

    yesterday morning I woke up at 7.00 (NZ time) and brought my duvet in the living room to watch the rugby game…France/Nambia. As at half time I was hungry, I decided to have my breakfast (fair enough). So I was back in the living room with my couple of toast with “nutella” (yummy, yummy)…can you guess what happened next??
    I tried to get in my sleeping bag with the plate in my hand and twisted myself to close it with the other hand…but one of my toast rolled over the plate, fell on my duvet (nutella side against the duvet of course!) and ended on the carpet (fortunately NOT nutella side on the carpet)…
    Needless to say that yesterday morning I really strongly thought about this extract of your blog! ^^
    These “macarons” look wonderful, I think I should try as soon as I get off the plane!! 🙂

    September 17, 2007 at 10:51 pm
  • Someone was telling me she was in Paris in June and she STILL has a box in the frig with a few macarons left in it!!!!
    This is a very smart person too.
    I was amazed!!! I have NEVER brought back a single macaron from Paris 🙁
    Except on watercolor paper and they didn’t last long either…
    I have never eaten a PAUL macaron so I will for you ma cherie 🙂
    Yes, definitely essence of Paris…
    Did you see Laduree’s parfume? but I don’t think it’s macaron parfume..
    Whada mistake!
    Tanks 🙂

    September 18, 2007 at 4:03 am
  • This entry has me half crazed with envy, gluttony and coveting thy fellow blogger’s macarons.

    September 20, 2007 at 2:04 pm
  • But ParisBreakfasts, are they still good? I find even the next day they’re too dry and just lose their goodness.

    Poor Anne-Gaëlle! The trials of being a kiwifrog, right? 🙂

    Making people crazed with gluttony is really I think my purpose in life, Corine. 🙂

    September 20, 2007 at 2:39 pm
  • My favorite macarons in Paris were in Laduree but now they are in Herme , in saint germain des Prés.
    When I come to Paris , I have to buy parisian macarons

    September 23, 2007 at 11:39 am
  • Oh wow. Just. Yum.

    September 29, 2007 at 12:19 pm

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