I huddled in the corner of the Ladurée tea salon on Rue Royal to escape the cold with a café au lait and a few macarons. We’d taken the Eurostar into Paris from London, our home at the time, to go Christmas shopping. Well, I was taking a break from Christmas shopping while my husband was freezing his you-know-what off at Versailles.
The euro had just replaced the French franc. I had a paper map back then instead of a smartphone. Those were the days when you could truly get lost in a city—I’d accidentally stumbled upon the tea salon—without the pressure of checking text messages or trying to Instagram moments.
While there are several Ladurée tea salons in Paris (and around the world), I continue to stop into this location every single time I’m in town. And, 15+ years after my first café au lait, it’s become a tradition that my daughter and I lunch here when on a Paris family vacation. This particular location is not the largest or flashiest, but it is the most special.
1. Laduree Pioneered the Macaron
Ladurée is home to some of the best macarons in Paris, if not the world. They are credited with developing the beloved double-decker macaron with its two sides and creamy ganache filling. This is said to have happened sometime around the 1930s. The one-sided macaron arrived in France from Italy sometime in the 16th century via Queen Catherine de’ Medici, but the recipe had remained unchanged.
2. It Was the First Tea Room for Parisian Women
I didn’t know this until recently, but Ladurée created the first tea room for women. Back in the 1800s, women were not allowed into cafes. The Ladurée tea salon enabled them to finally socialize outside the home. Ladurée founder, Louis-Ernest Ladurée, was not only a miller but also a writer and staunch supporter of social reform.
3. It’s the Flagship Ladurée
Ladurée is now easily found in New York City, Harrod’s in London, Vancouver and even Hong Kong‘s Landmark luxury mall. The exclusivity of the brand is somewhat diminished but it doesn’t negate the fact that their macarons are other-wordly. And, it’s especially cool to have lunch in the very bakery-then-pastry-shop that started it all back in 1862. The signature celadon and chubby cherubs dressed as bakers have also been the company’s emblem since 1871.
(Side note: Ladurée macarons from this store are the only things that have ever been stolen out of my checked luggage.)
4. The Food Is Pretty Good
Let’s face it. Paris is chock full of fantastic places to eat. Ladurée’s tea salon menu is pretty good with a wide range of sandwiches, salads, omelettes and more. Is it Michelin-star quality? No. If you’re staying at a Paris luxury hotel, the cost may even seem a decent value, relatively speaking. With a drink and entrée, plan on spending about €40 per person. Of course, stopping in for a late afternoon dessert and coffee drastically reduces the spend.
Pictured above are the cured meat entrée (Bigorre cured ham, melon, watermelon, parmesan 36 months, pine nut entree) and the Caesar salad (free-range chicken, parmesan cheese 36 months, free-range egg, croutons).
We’ve also had the Ladurée Club (free-range chicken, lettuce heart, egg, tomato, mayonnaise) and another seasonal chicken salad which I don’t think is still on the menu.
Portion sizes are moderate, I would say, but they are perfect for me. My 6’6″ husband would probably be hungry if he ever joined us here. But macarons are waiting for dessert, after all.
Ingredients seem fresh and flavorful. Meals are plated nicely, and the service is pretty good for Paris. It is not lightning quick, but it isn’t terribly slow either.
I tend to gravitate toward the salads, whereas my daughter likes the Alain Milliat strawberry nectar, a sandwich, and the same rose and raspberry macaron.
Yes, they have wine and champagne, too. The tables are quite close together so go before you buy a gazillion handbags. (Tip: You will save money buying Goyard and Louis Vuitton handbags in Paris. I broke my recent purchases down by the numbers.)
And, they have amazing sorbet topped with a macaron.
5. Dining in the Restaurant Skips the Boutique Queue
This Ladurée store has two separate parts. The tea salon is to the left (if facing the doors), and the boutique is to the right. The boutique often has a line, but it does move at a decent pace, in my experience.
Almost everything edible in the boutique (the restaurant also has a small store with branded handbags, keychains, and paper goods) can be ordered inside the tea salon. The tea salon’s two dining floors both have a dessert case for guests to gawk at before ordering.
I’ve even taken macarons to-go via my table at the tea salon. I would say for larger orders, they’d probably prefer you head to the boutique line but correct me if I’m wrong.
(Tip: Don’t go crazy buying hundreds of macarons. They have a very short shelf life of seven days, but since I notice the difference in texture as soon as the following day, I’d plan to eat them all within a few days.)
6. You’ll Probably Be Shopping or Sightseeing Nearby Anyway
The rue Royal location is in my favorite Paris shopping neighborhood. I tend to bring home many specialty foods like jams, teas, cookies, and anything else that will pass muster with U.S. customs that I pick up within a block of this Ladurée at Hédiard, Fauchon, Maille, and a multitude of other stores.
Ladurée is a few paces from the Madeleine, Place Vendome, Place de la Concorde and other sights, too.
7. Reservations Can Be Made Online
Of course, a hotel concierge can make a Ladurée tea salon reservation for you. However, the last two times we ate there, I used a website called The Fork, which seems similar to OpenTable. It worked flawlessly.
I would definitely suggest making a reservation at Ladurée. It was not crowded for an early lunch on a weekday, but it was totally packed when we went for dinner on a whim last summer.
Have you eaten at this Ladurée tea salon in Paris?
Top photo credit: Paris Tourist Office – Photographer: Marc Bertrand
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).