Ladurée from “Gossip Girl”Jul 16th, 2013 | By Lindsay | Category: This and That
Ever since watching the Season 4 episode of Gossip Girl titled “Juliet Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, in which Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) was shown in a bubble bath eating a box, ahem, boxes of Ladurée macarons, I have been just slightly obsessed with the Paris-based confectionery. Since the chain’s only U.S. outpost is located in New York, though, and since it did not open until August 2011 and my last trip to the Big Apple was in 2009 (yikes!), I had never had the chance to sample any of the bakery’s iconic pastel-colored wares. So when my best friend, Robin, informed me that Ladurée had a shop in Zurich, I just about passed out from excitement and added the place to my Switzerland Must-Stalk list – even though, being that nothing has been filmed there, it is not technically a stalking location.
Ladurée was originally founded as a small bakery at 16 rue Royale in Paris in 1862 by a miller from the southwest of France named Louis Ernest Ladurée. In 1871, the shop was burned in a fire and Louis subsequently built a larger pastry store in its place. He commissioned French painter/poster artist Jules Cheret to design the interior, which was bathed in a celadon hue. It was not until 1930, though, when the shop started serving its now legendary macarons, that Ladurée gained its immense popularity. There are several differing accounts as to who actually created the macaron as it is known today, but, according to the Ladurée website, Louis’ grandson, Pierre Desfontaines, is the responsible party. Although a single-decker variety of the meringue cookie had been in existence since the 1500s, it was not until Pierre came up with the idea of cementing two of those wafers together with a ganache paste that the contemporary macaron was born. The rest, as they say, is history.
Shortly thereafter, Pierre, acting upon an idea from Louis’ wife, Jeanne Souchard, decided to open a female-friendly tea salon on the premises. At the time, the fairer sex was not allowed inside of Paris cafes. As you can imagine, the Ladurée tea room quickly became a massive hit.
In 1993, the father and son duo of Francis and David Holder purchased the bakery with the hopes of taking it global. And that they did. The second Ladurée opened on Paris’ prestigious Champs-Élysées in 1997. Thirteen additional French stores quickly followed. Today the company has boutiques in twenty different countries, including Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Hong Kong, from which it sells a whopping 15,000 cookies per day.
The interior of Ladurée (which we, unfortunately, were not allowed to take photographs of) is like a cotton-candy dreamworld! It is absolutely adorable and filled to the brim with pastel-colored boxes, which have become collectors items among macaron aficionados.
Robin’s mom, Doina, and girlfriend, Steffi, and I opted for the bakery’s vanilla-flavored macaron variety and it was pretty much the best thing I have ever eaten! As someone who has sampled quite a few different macaron brands in her day, I can honestly say that Ladurée puts them all to shame! If there was a California branch, I wouldn’t be able to stay away! Thank God there is not, otherwise I would be in permanent diabetic shock. Amazingly enough, at most Ladurée outposts in other countries, the cookies are not made onsite, but flown in daily from Paris! That is not the case with the shop in Zurich, though, so Doina, Steffi and I were lucky enough to taste fresh cookies made right on the premises.
Gossip Girl is hardly the first production to make use of Ladurée macarons. Not only were the cookies featured in Marie Antoinette . . .
. . . but the confection actually formed the basis of the color palate for the entire 2006 movie. As stated in an article from London’s The Times Magazine, “At the start of pre-production, [director Sophia] Coppola handed [costume designer] Milena Canonero a box of pastel-coloured macaroons from the Ladurée pastry house. ‘She told me, “These are the colours I love”,’ recalls Canonero. ‘I used them as a palette.’” Love it!
And while a few websites have stated that the final episode of Sex and the City did some filming at the Ladurée store in Paris, I scanned through the episode yesterday and did not see the bakery pop up anywhere.
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Until next time, Happy Stalking!