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Paris Macaron Taste Test: Ladurée vs Gérard Mulot

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Paris Macaron
Who makes the best macaron in Paris? Read on! Photos: T. Brack

By Theadora Brack in Paris

Who’s the top macaron in Paris? Two names I often hear during heated gastronomical debates in my circle are the historic old school favorite Ladurée, and the flashy newcomer Gérard Mulot. While both are certainly splurge-worthy, I’ve often wondered if one had a bit of an edge over the other.

Ladurée boutique

Looking in at Ladurée

So this week I’ve taken it to the table, by conducting an impromptu taste testing with three of my favorite food snobs. Scientist Jean-François, filmmaker Peter and writer Véronique all agreed to lend a helping hand, while sipping crisp white wine.

But first things first, Cheapos, let’s meet our contestants!

Ladurée
€15 (per half dozen macarons)
Time spent waiting in line: one hour

Since 1862 Ladurée has been donning pastels like no other. Their shops are sprinkled about the city, including Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2.

Tip: Every year Ladurée rolls out a “flavor of the year,” along with a matching set of gift boxes. More tidbits: Belle Époch poster artist Jules Chéret designed their Saint-Germain tea salon and shop at 21 Rue Bonaparte. Sex and the City fans, Carrie Bradshaw “ate here” during the season six finale. Also, Ladurée’s pastel colors inspired the color schemes in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.

Gérard Mulot macarons

Mulot's macarons

Gérard Mulot
€9 (per half dozen macarons)
Time spent waiting in line: 15 minutes

On the flip side, sparky new kid on the block Gérard Mulot has been pouring on the pizazz with a vibrant palette since 1975. From the day-glo-get-go, Mulot’s shops, macaroons, and gift boxes have been bursting with his trademark set of fluorescent colors.

His shops are located in Saint-Germain des Prés and the Marais, but the main bakery and flagship shop are located at 93 Rue Glacière in the 13th arrondissement.

Tip: Tours of the workshop are offered. Just contact the Glacière shop prior to your visit.

The taste testing

Round one: First impressions

The first round was all about looks, see. Tucked away in Véro’s kitchen, I hid the telltale signs of boxes and bags, and quickly quartered six macarons (three from each contestant). Acting as the impartial moderator, I then presented the samples (organized by flavor) on a white dish (pictured, top), and asked the judges for feedback on the macaron colors. Gut reactions were immediate and judgment was swift.

Best macarons in Paris

Peter holds the two contestants

In living color

“So French, more natural and very chic,” said Véro, describing Ladurée’s soft pastel hues. “Classical,” said Jean-François before he continued. “Those bright ones are tacky and look artificial.” Peter concurred with a filmmaker’s snapshot. “While the vibrant macarons are photogenic, they’re too gaudy-looking.”

And just like that (in no more than two minutes), Ladurée won the first round in the looks-alone department. Ring-a-ding-ding!

Round two: Sweet is the lore

Then, with eyes shut, phase two of the testing got underway. My judges blind-taste-tested each sample, starting with the citron.

“I like this one because it reminds me of my mother’s lemon pie,” said Véro, gesturing toward the Mulot product without knowing which one it was. Both guys concurred, giving the Mulots high marks for their “natural zest.” With his eyes closed, Jean-François couldn’t place the taste of the Ladurée citron sample, while Peter found the same pastel morsels “too sweet and artificial tasting.”

Véro and Jean-François discuss

So you can’t judge a book by its cover

After they sampled four more macarons, I revealed the results, which were surprisingly consistent and unanimous.

Here the tables turned, Cheapos. The judges found the Mulot macarons “natural tasting,” “authentic,” and “recognizable,” despite their artificial colors, while they found the Ladurée samples “saccharine” and “artificial,” even though visually they seemed more appealing.

After Mulot was declared the winner of round two, post-game contemplation continued throughout the night with more wine. But of course!

My recommendation?

Try both and be your own judge. To make the game even more interesting, add other famous makers like Arnaud Larher or Pierre Hermé to the mix!

Cheapos, who makes your favorite macaron in Paris?

Have a favorite macaron? Tell us about it in the comments section.

A big thank you goes out to Véronique, Peter and Jean-François! Cheapos, I sprung the taste testing on them at a recent dinner party. They took it seriously and elevated it to another level. Merci!

About the author

Theadora Brack

About the author: Theadora Brack is a writer working in Paris. Her fiction has appeared in more than 30 literary publications, including 3AM International, The Smoking Poet, Beloit Fiction Journal, Mid-American Review, and the Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal.

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5 Responses to “Paris Macaron Taste Test: Ladurée vs Gérard Mulot”

hiddeneurope Revenge of the Scottish Macaroons says:

Come on guys….. Have you never heard of our fabulous Scottish macaroons (note the double ‘o’ in the Scottish purebred macaroons)? True devotees appreciate the Scottish macaroon, which we think has the edge over its upstart French competitor. In truth, there is no evident connection between the two confections, except that both have lots of egg white and sugar. The distinguishing feature of our Scottish macaroons (recipes for which have been found in mass graves of Clan McPheron dated by scientists as being from the Neolithic period) is that the true Scottish macaroon has potatoes in it. Now I bet none of your upstart Parisian Macs has tatties in ‘em, eh?
Hamish McPherson
Laird of Kirkentilloch and Nether Isles

Timeless Drifter says:

As much as I believe Sofia is full of baloney, this post made me hungry for macaroons and … Scottish folklore! Bon appetit.

Rob says:

Delicious article.

Interesting to note, if you really are a cheapo, that Holder, the company that supplies Laduree, also supplies McDonalds with their macarons. (Source: penultimate sentence of http://www.slate.com/id/2221246/pagenum/all/ )

How totally preposterous that macarons (or macaroons) are being thus claimed! The whole world knows that German macaroons are THE quintessential German confection, ideally eaten around Christmas and invariably flavoured (or overdosed) with coconut. We call them Kokosmakronen, and they have definitely been staple fodder in Berlin even since we nicked the idea of macarons (or macaroons) off Turkish migrants around 1972. Back in pre-history. The really original macaroons are ac?badem kurabiyesi from Turkey. So we are not so wild about this nouvelle cuisine idea, promulated here, of the virtue of French macarons. And even less enthusiastic about the Scottish escapade that have been advocated. Potato macaroons? God forbid! What is EuroCheapo coming to, that such deviant renderings of European history are tolerated here?

Ghislaine says:

Macaroons are undeniably part of french culinary landscape, and who cares where they came from originally. In the end all dishes we eat are somewhere, somehow copied, adapted, imported, and I find that extremely exciting. People that claim certain dishes, or pastries to be from their country or region, should be thrilled that they are now available worldwide and transformed into the local colours. Why don’t you just use your taste buds instead of your chauvinism (and btw I know the kokosmakronen, which are filled with sugar, have a overdose off coconut and completely miss the delicate almond taste of french macaroons)

When you’re in Paris, you simply have to marvel in front of Ladurée, so incredibly pretty….and appetising…Thanks Theadora for this fun story!

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