Gorgeous delicacies can be found all over Paris, but the most classic of Parisian treats are at their scrumptious best in the places where they were created, or else perfected.
Macaron biscuits — a blend of almond, sugar and egg whites — have been popular in Europe for centuries; legend has it that Catherine de Medici brought the treat to France (courtesy of her personal chef) upon her marriage to the future King Henri II. The macaron as we now know it — two biscuits sandwiching a ganache, buttercream or jam filling — is a relatively recent invention. It was the head chef of Ladurée — working at the original Rue Royale salon de thé, where the delightful décor dates back to the Belle Époque — who hit upon the creation in 1930. The rest is gastronomic history.
Buy it at: Ladurée, 16-18, Rue Royale 75008.
The Baba au Rhum
Another French classic also came about thanks to a foreign queen. In 1725, Polish pastry maker Nicolas Stohrer accompanied his king’s daughter to France, for her marriage to Louis XV; after five years of palace work he decided to strike out on his own, setting up shop on a popular market street, and it was here that he invented the rum-soaked yeast cake known as the Baba au Rhum. Stohrer can still be found in its original Rue Montorgueil location, and the Rum Babas are as delicious as ever.
Buy it at: Stohrer, 51, Rue Montorgueil 75002.
The French Revolution not only wiped out olds aristocratic ways of being, it also saw many workers needing to rethink their careers. So it was for the Dalloyaus, a family of chefs that had worked at the royal court for over a century. Restyling themselves as caterers for the new elite, they moved into premises on the chichi Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Fast-forward to 1955; the head pastry chef was working on a new repertoire of treats, one of which was a layered cake of syrup-soaked almond sponge, coffee butter cream and chocolate ganache. It was so elaborate and glamorous that his wife remarked it look like the glittering tiered interior of the Opéra Garnier. And another French dessert classic was born.
Buy it at: Dalloyau, 101, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré 75008.
The Mont Blanc
As with the macaron, the Mont Blanc — so named because the chestnut-and-cream treat was thought to look like a snow-capped mountain — was a popular European dish centuries before it became a cult Parisian dessert. It was at Angelina, the legendary tea room, in 1903, that a new take on the Mont Blanc was created: a swirl of meringue, whipped cream and sweet chestnut vermicelli.
Buy it at: Angelina, 226, Rue de Rivoli 75001.
A duo of super-sized rose macaron sandwiching a ring of raspberries on a bed of rose water and lychee crème, the Ispahan can be found all over Paris these days. Pâtissier Pierre Hermé knows and makes it best. He created the legend back when he worked for Ladurée, but nows sells it in his eponymous boutiques.
Buy it at: Pierre Hermé, 72, Rue Bonparte 75006.