Patisserie Pierre Herme Paris
Most people who are planning a trip to Paris look forward to taking in the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower, enjoying the Impressionist paintings in the Musee d’Orsay, or cruising down the Seine at night when the city’s monuments are illuminated. All are worthy pursuits that will create indelible travel memories.
But there’s another destination no trip to Paris should be without.
The amount of pleasure you’ll experience there may be unrivaled, even though it’s affordable for almost any traveler. And you’ll likely return again and again.
We’re talking about Pierre Herme, the most celebrated pastry chef in Paris, and his eponymous boutiques.
Herme is a fourth-generation baker from the Alsace region of France. At the tender age of 14, he came to Paris to train with Gaston Lenotre, who is credited with revolutionizing French pastry. At 24, he became the head pastry chef at Fauchon — the most celebrated food store and caterer in Paris.
By 1998, he was ready to branch out on his own, and he and business partner Charles Znaty opened the first Pierre Herme boutique in Toyko. It was an immediate hit. And Herme became a culinary sensation.
He opened his first Paris boutique on Rue Bonaparte in 2001 and opened a second location on Rue de Vaugirard in 2004. About 25 pastry chefs work in shifts in the Vaugirard kitchen, where cakes for both locations are made. Chocolates are created in the Bonaparte kitchen.
In 2007, he was awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur by Jacques Chirac.
An impressive resume, to be sure, but what’s all the fuss about? To find out, simply bite into one of his divine macarons. If you’ve never had one, they are indescribably delicious. Two light, crisp, almond-flour meringues surround an intense, rich filling. The combination of flavors and textures can be enjoyed in two perfect little bites. Astonishingly simple, yet remarkably complex.
Herme’s real genius is his creativity. While competitors are content producing impeccable chocolate, vanilla, and pistachio macarons, Herme experiments with flavors like passion fruit, rose, litchi, chestnut, apricot, jasmine, olive oil, and green tea. He introduces new flavors all year long, and many are only available seasonally — such as gingerbread in the fall. The line forms around the block to sample the new ones.
Of course, macarons aren’t the only temptations — at around $2.50 each, they’re simply the most affordable and portable. But exquisite cakes, chocolates, jewel-like tarts, cheesecakes, and Napoleons are also irresistible.
To sample Herme’s wares, you’ll have to visit Paris or Tokyo — although he does ship to destinations in Europe. He’s written several books on desserts. But his macaron book is only available in French, and it’s quite expensive to purchase in the United States.