Paris is a fabulous city with so many activities that you can come back again and again and do something different each time. We’ve visited Paris several times, the latest visit was in 2019. That time we undertook a Paris macaron walking tour. Next to visiting the Eiffel tower and Disneyland Paris, this was the highlight of our visit to Paris. Macarons have become extremely popular the last few years, and with good reason. Paris is the place to sample macarons. There are several guided tours to take in Paris on which you get to taste macarons. We however did a self-guided macaron tour, which we loved.
Before we go on a macaron tour through Paris. Let’s talk a little about what a macaron is exactly.
A macaron is a delicious cookie, which can be found all over France. It has spread all over the world. But for the best macaron and a true macaron tour you have to go to Paris. Although St.-Jean-de-Luz is a good rival.
A macaron has two delicate cookies, made from ground almonds, and are light. The 2 cookies are sandwiched around a soft filling. Think lemon curd, chocolate buttercream, raspberry jam or any other flavorful filling that makes the cookies stick together. They come in numerous different colors and flavors, one even more tasteful than the other.
The cookies are in basic made from ground almonds, egg whites and sugar. Flavor is added to the cookie in different ways. The macaron is not an easy cookie to prepare. It can easily become deformed or the crust will break during the baking process.
History of the Macaron
Macarons are known from France and as a distinctly French cookie. But looking into it, it’s believed, that the macaron was born in Italy. It has been produced in Venetian monasteries since the 8th century. These were still only simple cookies made of egg whites, sugar and almond flour.
Catherine de Medici, the French King’s (Henri II) Italian wife, is believed to have brought them over to France, around 1533. At the French court these simple macarons where further developed. The French word macaron is derived from the Italian word for fine dough, maccherone.
The first written recipe comes from the 17th century in French. A number of different recipes already existed, with different regions in France having their versions and adopting it as a local specialty.
The macaron seems to have gained in popularity and fame from the year 1792 on. Since in that year two Carmelite nuns in Nancy baked and sold macarons during the French Revolution to pay for their housing. These macarons however were still without filling.
The macaron as we know it today was introduced in the later part of the 19th century. At the Parisian confectioner La Maison Ladurée, Pierre Desfontaines, started sandwiching buttercream, compote, jam and ganache between two macaron cookies.
Although this is still how we know the macaron till this day, this doesn’t mean the macaron stopped developing. New shapes, flavors and colors have kept emerging ever since, reinventing the macaron again and again.
Paris Macaron Walking Tour
Here’s the self-guided macaron tour Paris I compiled for us and which we loved.
- Go to the stop Bac street with the metro.
- Follow the Rue du Bac until the intersection with the Rue de Grenelle, visit Dalloyau. Sadly it was closed due to vacation when we visited, but Dalloyau is one of the big names in the Parisian confectioner’s world, so should not be skipped on a tour.
- Then follow the Rue du Bac, Sadly la Patisserie des Rêves closed its doors in November 2019. But Angelina Paris a bit further down the street is still there. They have delicious macarons in normal size and large ones (!) They also sell delicious chocolate.
- Then take the Rue de Babylone, cross the Place la Corbusier and visit la Maison du Chocolat at Rue du Sèvres. This chocolate house, not only produces delicious chocolate, but also macarons.
- Go back a little bit and follow the Boulevard Raspail, until you reach the Rue du Cherche-Midi. Visit À la Mère de famille here. This is Paris’s oldest sweet shop, they sell chocolates, all sorts of candies, ice cream and macarons.
- Follow the Rue du Cherche-Midi further until you reach Rue Saint-Placide, where you head towards Maison Pariès. They sell Basque confections, among them delicious macarons.
- Then head back a little bit until the crossing with the Rue du Cherche-Midi and follow the Rue Saint-Placide until the end, go further on the Rue de Vaugirard, cross the Rue de Rennes and continue on the Rue de Vaugirard. Visit Sadaharu AOKI, a Japanese-French inspired confectioner’s chain.
- Turn around and take the Rue d’Assas until you reach the Jardin du Luxembourg. An excellent place for lunch. Which we had at Kiosk la Table inside the park. Sit down for a while, let your kids run around at the playground or if you don’t need a rest from walking, take a stroll around the park.
Further with Paris macarons
- After your break exit the park again at the same entrance and take the Rue Vavin, and visit Jean-Paul Hévin. When we visited it was closed due to vacation. But this chain is renowned for its chocolate and pure flavors in the macarons.
- Follow the Rue Vavin further, until you reach the Rue Notre Dame des Champs until the Boulevard Raspail. Take the metro here to stop Madeleine.
- On Place de la Madeleine are 2 stores from Fauchon. One is a shop, the other is a restaurant. The shop is best for buying macarons and other deliciousness like jams and so on.
- Take the metro again, and now to stop George V.
- Stand in line at the famous Ladurée shop situated on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
- Then walk towards the Arc de Triomphe. In the Publicis building is a Pierre Hermé Paris shop included. A not to be missed French pastry and chocolate house. This is the last Parisian confectioner on our tour.
Each confectioner’s house we visited has its own history, background and signature creations.
Dalloyau is an independent, family run company, established in Paris. The brothers Dalloyau were working for Louis XIV in 1682 as “officiers de bouche” (top chefs), which was the highest French gastronomy distinction at the time. In 1802 the “Dalloyau, house of gastronomy” was founded in 1802 by Jean-Baptiste Dalloyau.
The main Paris shop is still at the Rue du Fauborg Saint-Honoré, since 1802. Although we visit Dalloyau for their macarons, their signature pastry is the Opera Cake. Cyriaque Gavillon invented this in 1955 at Dalloyau. A rectangular cake with 3 thin layers of almond sponge cake. It’s soaked in coffee syrup and in between alternating are layers of coffee butter cream and chocolate glaze topped with ganache.
La Patisserie des Rêves
La Patisserie des Rêves stands for the patisserie of dreams. Philippe Conticini founded it in 2009. He left in 2016, since November 2019 the chain has closed.
Anton Rumpelmayer and his son René founded Angelina in 1903. Named after his daughter-in-law. The tea house at Rue de Rivoli 226 quickly became the place to be for the elite. The biggest French fashion designers. Proust and Coco Chanel came together in this famous tea room Anton’s desire was that Angelina would become the ultimate gourmet temple and a symbol of the French way of life.
Signature dishes are the Mont-Blanc and the famous hot chocolate “L’Africain”.
La Maison du Chocolat
Robert Linxe founded the first la Maison du Chocolat in Paris in 1977. Linxe’s signature was adding ganache to his chocolates. This made it a silky blend of chocolate and fresh cream covered in chocolate.
À la Mère de famille
Julien Merceron founded it in 1761, on Rue du Fauborg-Montmartre in Paris. It’s still located here (and on other locations) making it Paris’s oldest sweet shop. Not much has changed in those years. Signature are their ice cream in several flavors, chocolate specialties, candied fruit and calissons.
Founded in 1895 by Jacques Damestoy in Bayonne. Bayonne is the chocolate Capitol. They sell gourmandizes Basques. Signature dishes are the Gateaux Basques and mouchou et macarons. They also have kanougas, confiseries, chocolats, tourons, cake and ice cream.
Sadaharu AOKI Paris
Sadaharu Aoki, a Japanese pastry chef, opened his first store in 1998. He prepares French-style pastries, while using traditional Japanese ingredients and flavors.
Jean-Paul Hévin opened his first shop in 1988 at 16 avenue de la Motte-Piquet. He produces chocolate of high quality. His macarons have a low level of sugar, which makes that the flavors are pure and can express their strongness. They’re regularly awarded by the press.
Jean-Paul Hévin selects a cocoa every 3 months which he uses as inspiration to make 3 creations: a macaron, a chocolate candy and a chocolate bar.
Founded in Paris in 1886. A French company made for gourmets and delicacies.
They sell deliciacies, macarons, tea, chocolates and sweets.
A French company for pastries founded in 1862 by Lousi-Ernst Ladurée. They made the first macaron as we know it today and remains one of the most popular spots for macarons in Paris till this day. They sell some 15.000 each day of their famous filled macarons. The shop on the Champs-Élysées opened in 1997 and is a restaurant, tea room and macaron specialist.
Maison Pierre Hermé Paris
Pierre Hermé, a French pastry chef and chocolatier, founded Maison Pierre Hermé in 1998 together with Charles Znaty.
In 2005 they declared March 20 National Macaron Day.
We all loved the macaron tour and the Paris macaron. We did the tour with the 3 of us, our son was 9 years old at the time. Paul and Yuri’s favorite was the yuku macaron from Sadaharu AOKI Paris. My favorite where the ones from Fauchon, such a delicious flavor. We bought some 21 macarons in total, which we shared, and some other pastries. It wasn’t cheap, we spent over €100,- in total.
It took us some 5,5 hours, lunch included to take the tour. This was longer than the guided tours, but we could sit down whenever we wanted and walk our own pace. Besides this we could let Yuri run around at a few parks we came across. The time could be shorter of your tour, depending on your speed of walking. We spend a lot of time at the parks, but if you don’t need this, you can take of almost 2 hours. We also took our time after each store to sample the macarons. Total walking time between shops would be about an half hour to an hour. Mind you this is without the added time of waiting and taking the metro twice during the tour.
Where to stay
We stayed at 55 Hôtel Montparnasse in 2019. A basic hotel, with lots of restaurants close by and a metro station. We’ve stayed at other great hotels in Paris before, as discussed in stopover hotels on the way South.
That’s a wrap on the Paris macaron walking tour
Hope you can take this fun tour!
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