“Parisian tea rooms’ history is intimately tied to the history of the Ladurée family.”
Louis Ernest Ladurée opened up a bakery in Paris in 1871. While the beginning of Ladurée were modest, initially it was just a normal bakery, fate took a turn. Or rather, a dramatic turn, the Ladurée bakery caught fire and was nearly destroyed. From the ashes rose a new pastry shop. The famous Baron Haussmann was on a mission to give Paris a “new face”, a more eloquent face, that would later turn Paris into the model-city for the rest of the world. And thus, Ladurée transformed from a bakery to an extravagant patisserie, complete with lavish decoration by Jules Cheret, a famous painter and poster artist.
The lavish decorations are still to be found in every Ladurée patisserie, making it their signature interiors. The Ladurée-green backdrop with gold accents gives the pastry shops a regal feel. When you enter a Ladurée patisserie, you feel like you’re a modern Marie-Antoinette going out and making new acquaintances. The delicacies of their pastries, are just one of the many assets that make Ladurée so popular worldwide.
Ladurée became a household name in Paris when the grandson of Louis Ernest Ladurée took over the patisserie in 1930. He introduced a double-decker of two macaron shells with a ganache filling, known as the macaron. Ladurée’s grandson Pierre Desfontaines, also opened up a tearoom in the patisserie. This proven to be immensely successful as, at the time, ladies weren’t allowed in literature cafés. Ladies met up in Ladurée’s tearoom to converse and gain new acquaintances.
Much like meeting up with other ladies of French Salons in the time period; meeting up at Ladurée was another extension of Dames getting together for discussions, intellect, and amusement. If you look at a Ladurée salon nowadays, particularly those in Paris, you can see that modern, elegant Parisiennes meet up for their weekly dose of intelligent conversations (discussions, intellect), mixed with a flirtation of gossip (amusement).
Ladurée will remain an all-time favorite meeting up spot for us Dames!
Ladurée was first introduced to a global audience in the film ‘Marie Antoinette’ (2006), starring Kirsten Dunst as her majesty, directed by Sofia Coppola. Francophiles around the world loved this film, the Versailles sets, the couture gowns, and the amazing pastries.
I first visited Ladurée in 2009. Right before their immense popularity. I planned my whole Paris trip around their locations in the city. At the time, they were only located in France. My high expectations and Ladurée’s reputation were met, as it was a wonderful experience.
Today, Ladurée houses more than 95 pastry shops around the world, with many opening soon in major cities. Their popularity is soaring. And it not very hard to figure out why: for just a few dollars you can walk into their French patisserie, buy a macaron or a pastry, and imagine how it must have felt like for the ladies back in the late 19th century in their ball gowns and adorned hats to come in Ladurée’s pastry shop and meet up with other ladies.