At least four times a year, you'll see seasonal window displays and limited-edition collections at Ladurée. The collections are all impossibly delightful and pretty, with the trademark Ladurée aesthetic of pastel colours and whimsical motifs. Vancouver has already had three collections so far and they've all sold out.
Staff are constantly asked if the limited edition boxes can be bought individually or if macarons can be packaged separately to keep the pretty boxes pristine. The answer is no to both questions. No macaron leaves the store without being properly, perfectly packaged. It's the Ladurée way.
Tea for two
The ultimate Ladurée experience includes afternoon tea ($40) in their salon, which comes with cakes (financier and madeleine), three mini macarons, yoghurt, fruit salad, and tea, coffee or hot chocolate. But you could also stop in for a pot of tea (starting at $5) and order off the extensive à la carte menu featuring pages of pastries and a variety of finger sandwiches (starting at $3) and three different Croque-Monsieur ($18).
If you're sticking with sweets, don't overlook the pain perdu (French toast, starting at $15), which is fluffy and heavenly, much more soufflé-like than what we're used to in Canada—this is definitely in the realm of French pastries. And the ice cream, it must be noted, is actually handcrafted by a Ladurée chef, who personally comes throughout the year to source and create this frozen treat. So when a flavour runs out, it's out until he returns.
The cozy salon in the back currently seats about 16, but Krakhmalyova plans on increasing this once she obtains a liquor license. Soon enough, you'll be able to enjoy your afternoon treat (order the cake citron) with a glass of Ladurée champagne (of course they have their own label of champagne.)
The Ladurée tea salon accepts reservations and walk-ins.
The Ladurée way
"The Ladurée way," is the essence of all Ladurée experiences, which is designed to make you feel as if you were on Avenue des Champs Elysees wherever you may be. The floor tiles, the gold gilding, the wall sconces—even the music—have all been carefully curated by Ladurée to be consistent whether you're in Tokyo, Casablanca, Stockholm or any of the other 40+ locations worldwide.
Weeks before opening, Krakhmalyova was under the wing and inspection of Ladurée corporate, who sent a team of six people at various times to assist with the store's final touches. The team included interior designers, international coordinators and, of course, Ladurée International Chef, Mathieu Vienne. All were here to ensure "The Ladurée way" was implemented. And this is why you'll feel the same sense of celadon-tinted elegance in any Ladurée salon anywhere around the world.
Krakhmalyova herself went to Paris several times prior to the opening to work directly with Ladurée and spent an entire month training on just the details of operations. She learned how to handle the delicate macrons, how to package them perfectly in decorative patterns, how to wrap each box perfectly and, most importantly, how to welcome guests into her salon and make them feel special.
Meet the macarons
Ladurée is synonymous with macarons for a good reason. They actually invented the macaron as we know it today. It was the grandson of Louis Ernest Ladurée who, in the 1930s, sandwiched two macaron shells together with some ganache and birthed a new era of French confectionary pastries. Today, Ladurée sells about 15,000 macarons worldwide a day.
Ladurée offers a stable of permanent flavours as well as seasonal, limited edition varieties that pop up throughout the year. Regardless of flavour, they'll always taste fresh and as if you were in Paris. These pastries, along with many other menu items, are made in Europe and flown in to ensure total quality control and consistency with every single pastry. Other menu items, notably the savouries, are made with local ingredients that were sourced and approved by a Ladurée chef.
A few macarons are jam-filled (raspberry and red-fruit), the caramel one features real salted-butter caramel and the chocolate macaron is filled with a dark chocolate ganache. The others are filled with a flavoured Italian buttercream.
Flavours, thankfully, aren't crazily complex. Stick to traditional flavours such as pistachio, licorice and orange blossom. One notable exception to the refined, elegant lineup of flavours is strawberry candy, which is the sweetest and begs to be appreciated by a more playful palate: it's filled with marshmallow and dusted with crushed candy.
The macarons all have that signature crisp, thin outer shell and slightly soft, chewy middle. All, with the obvious exception of the strawberry candy, don't rely on sugar as the main flavour point and remain nicely balanced. Refreshingly, all flavours are easily identifiable upon first bite.
Individual macarons start at $3.15 and are presented in either Ladurée's traditional packaging (free) or in gift boxes (starting at $26 for six).
Learn the Ladurée way
Vancouver's inaugural Ladurée boutique and tea salon is also Canada's first for this luxury French patisserie. Best known for their pastel-pretty, exquisitely delicate macarons, the small storefront on Robson Street routinely saw lineups of several hundred people, waiting upwards of two hours during its opening month of March 2016.
Olesya Krakhmalyova, Vancouver businesswoman and licensee for Ladurée Canada, confided that Ladurée initially tried to convince her to open the first Canadian location in different city. Montreal perhaps ("more European") or Toronto ("it's bigger"), but Krakhmalyova was adamant that it be Vancouver ("It's perfect"). And the Vancouver store opening ultimately proved to be one of Ladurée's most successful worldwide openings ever.
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Catherine is a lifestyle writer, specializing in travel, style, food and beauty. You can read more of her work in WestWorld, Real Weddings, AsiaSpa, Darpan, Wine Enthusiast and others. Follow her on social (Instagram, Snapchat & Twitter) @TSEwords.