Ask any Francophile what their pet peeve is and I’m willing to bet that they’d tell you it’s hearing people pronounce the word macaron as macaroon. Ugh, my ears! Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear macaroon, I think of the toasted coconut confection!
A macaron, on the other hand, is the popular French cookie sandwich. Available in a variety of flavors and a rainbow of colors, the two-bite dessert, with its rich and creamy filling in between, has to be the world’s most photogenic sweet treat!
Thanks to social media, they seem to be everywhere! At the same time, though, I fear its ubiquity is making the fancy macaron lose its cachet. Let’s hope not!
When given the option, I always choose chocolate. But when it comes to macarons, I prefer plain and no-frills vanilla – go figure! What can I say? I’m a simple girl.
I’m a simple girl – with expensive taste! After all, macarons aren’t cheap since most places charge about $3 apiece. But considering how labor intensive macaron-making is, I think it’s well worth the price.
That said, it is possible to get macarons that look and taste good without paying a premium. For around five bucks, you can get a box of a dozen frozen macarons from Trader Joe’s! Most of the time, they hit the spot and satisfy my craving for something sweet.
But sometimes I crave the full in-store experience. I love hearing the soft crinkle of the dry wax bakery tissue and feeling the glass beneath my finger tip as I point to the macarons I want through the display case. The pleasure of taking my treats home in a cute tote bag is like no other!
Here are my impressions of four macaron shops I’ve been to: Chantal Guillon, Ladurée, Miette, and Paris Baguette.
Locations: Palo Alto and San Francisco
I liked the clean interior of the Chantal Guillon Palo Alto store. Their signature macaron is salted caramel brushed with gold. But as the saying goes, “tout ce qui brille n’est pas or” (all that glitters isn’t gold)…
Locations: Los Angeles; Paris; Washington, DC (and more)
For an exceptional customer experience, you must go to Ladurée. In my experience, the employees provide treatment you’d expect from similar high-end establishments (respect, attention, personal connection) but without the pretentious or stuffy attitude. They are friendly, helpful, and appear to genuinely love what they do! And I haven’t even begun talking about their macarons! (They’re delicious!)
When I visited Washington, DC, they had just opened a shop in Georgetown, so I had to stop by! I got a Cherry Blossom box (unique to DC!) and had it filled with two vanilla, and one each of lily of the valley, lavender, caramel, and pistachio. I got another small green box (called the Napoleon) and had it filled with two citron, and one each of poivre de Sichouan, café, rose petal, and cherry blossom.
While the macarons at The Grove did not disappoint, I was kinda bummed they were out of Ladurée LA-themed postcards!
In addition to their shops in central Paris, there are several Ladurée shops throughout the airport. Thank goodness for that! In my mind, a trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the legendary Ladurée! I was able to pick up some vanilla macarons minutes before boarding my flight home.
Locations: Oakland and San Francisco
I’ll just say it now: Miette is my favorite place to get macarons. They’re consistently good. Their tiny, unassuming shop is located in Oakland’s Jack London Square. But make no mistake. That’s where the magic happens. They make a whole bunch of macarons in their Oakland kitchen, then send some of them across the Bay to sell at their San Francisco Ferry Building location. They also sell cakes, French candies, marshmallows (guimauves), and shortbread cookies.
Locations: Berkeley, Oakland, and South San Francisco
One giant macaron from Paris Baguette is the size of about two regular-size macarons put together. It comes packaged in what looks like a coffee cup lid with a clear dome cover. I haven’t tried their other flavors or regular-size macarons, but if their giant ones are any indication, I think I’ll pass. Maybe the one I happened to get was stale, because it was on the dry side. Sadly, the only impressive characteristic about the giant macaron was its size.
I can’t wait to try more macarons from other places!
Here are links to the places I’ve mentioned above. (Note: these are not affiliate links. They’re for information only.)
- Chantal Guillon (website)
- Ladurée (website)
- Miette (website)
- Paris Baguette (website)
- Trader Joe’s (website)
Tell me in the comments below: Do you like macarons? Where do you like to get them?