As the iconic confectionary brand turns 160, we look back at the heritage of its infamous Parisian delicacy.
2022 marks the 160th anniversary of French patisserie, Ladurée. The Maison Ladurée began life as a little bakery in 1862 at 16 rue Royale in Paris. Since then, it has become the world’s best-known confectioner of the classic double-decker macaron.
Colourful, pillowy, and delicate, Ladurée offers a wide range of unique classic and seasonal macaron flavours. Classic flavours include coffee, salted caramel, chocolate, pistachio, raspberry, lemon, strawberry candy, rose, orange blossom, vanilla, and passion fruit. Ladurée decrees “it is the combination of flavour and colour that is essential in creating the perfect macaron”.
The Maison’s most treasured creation is the Marie-Antoinette macaron. Consisting of two light blue shells filled with a creamy ganache infused with Marie-Antoinette tea, it is a delectable marriage of Asian black tea paired with rose petals, citrus, and honey.
These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth, and soft in the middle, are made every morning in Ladurée’s laboratories. The pastry chefs measure out very precisely the required amounts of almonds, eggs and sugar, before adding one final ingredient, a pinch of unique ‘know-how’ essential to the making of such a delicacy.
The History of Ladurée
Although the Parisian confectioners introduced the world to the macaron Parisien in the 1830s, the recipe was popularised by Louis-Ernest Ladurée in 1862. Along with his wife Jeanne Souchard, Louis-Ernest Ladurée set up the first Ladurée patisserie at 16 rue Royale — a site that is still operating today.
After a fire in 1871, Ladurée envisaged transforming the address into a boutique tearoom. He hired painter and illustrator Jules Chéret, to refashion the establishment into a refined Parisian café. The walls were painted celadon green, and the ceiling decorated with an ethereal scape complete with cherubs.
The romantic and refined décor soon established Ladurée as a veritable refuge for the most fashionable in Paris. The Maison’s tearoom not only offered an elegant place to meet in the capital, but it was also notably the first tearoom of the 19th century that women could visit alone.
A New Era
In 1993, Francis Holder, president of the Holder Group, and his son purchased the brand with the aim to add an international dimension. The hope was to bring the sophisticated and refined décor of the tearoom to the world’s stage and share in the magic of Paris globally.
The Maison opened its second tearoom on the Champs-Elysées in 1997, decorated in the 18th century and Second Empire style. In 2002, a third tearoom followed, opening on the Left Bank on rue Bonaparte. Each Ladurée interior is an adventure through time, offering a reinterpretation of three great eras of decorative art: Antiquity, the 18th century, and the days of Napoleon III. International tearooms have since been opened in London, Tokyo, and New York.
The delectable essence of Ladurée further evolved with the introduction of gift boxes and other products ranging from candles and hampers to key chains and tote bags. The bijoux gift boxes have become precious keepsakes that are impossible to throw away. They are kept, collected, and often used for other things — I use mine as a little treasure trove, containing all the accompanying knick-knacks I picked up from my recent trip to Paris.
2022: Celebrating 160 Years
To commemorate the 160th anniversary, several celebrations will be happening on the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd of October 2022. The Maison is inviting its customers to blow out its 160 candles in all three of its Parisian addresses. The celebratory occasion is promised to deliver unforgettable memories.
Teatime will take place in the historic lounge of the Rue Royale in the company of the historian Patrick Rambourg who will provide an immersive history of the gourmet revival of the 19th and the Belle Epoque in Paris. Cocktails will happen at the Champs-Elysées tearoom, followed by a Ladurée brunch on Sunday 23rd with music in the living room on rue Bonaparte. A duo composed of an opera singer and a theorbist will accompany this gourmet moment, promising a tasty harmony.
Head pastry creation chef Julien Alvarez will also revisit some of the iconic recipes to have contributed to Ladurée’s reputation. In total Alvarez will reinterpret eleven emblematic patisseries which will be available throughout the rest of the year. These legacy recipes include the apple caramel Macaron, the Elysée, the praline Succès, the strawberry-poppy Baiser, and the Baked Pineapple Tart, to name a few.
With a constantly evolving vision and vigour, Ladurée continues to uphold its status as a mythical brand dedicated to conveying the foremost luxurious Parisian aesthetics, elegance, and delicacy.