Famous Macarons of Saint Malo, France

I Swoon for French Macarons in Saint Malo, France

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Macarons. I first saw them in Paris, but it wasn’t long before I realized these small round, garishly colored cookies were available in every French gift store, bakery and cafe. The problem was, my brain immediately confused them with the American macaroon, which is a dollop of baked coconut. Since I had no interest in coconut confections, I kept passing them by. Until I landed in Saint Malo, that is. This small village on the Brittany coast had not been on my itinerary but when I decided to take a bit of a break at Au Bon Accueil Bed and Breakfast, the owners, Jane and Paul Cunnison, convinced me to set one day aside to explore the charming town.

Beautiful square in the Intra-Muros old walled city of St. Malo France

Beautiful square in the Intra-Muros, the old walled city of St. Malo

Braving chilly late October temperatures, I bundled up and hopped on the train for the 15-minute ride to Saint Malo. Another quarter-hour walk brought me to the gates of the the old walled city known as the Intra-Muros. For hours I wandered around the cobblestone streets, following round brass markers embedded into the streets and sidewalks that led me on a historic walking tour. When my fingers finally turned numb from the cold I stumbled into the nearest place where I could get a hot cup of coffee, Macarons Chocolats de Luxe Philippe Bouvier. Wouldn’t you know it, I had landed in the shop of one of the most famous macaron makers in all of France.

The woman behind the counter, Sylvie, greeted me with a broad smile and between my practically non-existent French and her limited English I managed to make myself understood. Gratefully, I wrapped my frozen hands around a piping hot cup of coffee and perused the little shop. Vividly colored macarons were displayed in the bakery case, in tall crystal vases, and in exquisite gift boxes tied up with pretty silk ribbons.

France-Brittany-St-Malo-Macarons

Sylvie introduces me to macarons at her shop, Macarons Chocolatss de Luxe Philippe Bouvier, in St.Malo, France

I have never had a macaron,” I said, pantomiming putting something in my mouth and shaking my head.

Non!” she replied, astonished. “You try!

I pointed to a pile of burgundy colored macarons in the case. “OK. Framboise.

Sylvie ducked down behind the glass and came up with two macarons – my raspberry and a caramel flavored one.”You try caramel also. My gift.

I bit through the thin, crispy meringue-based top to the jam filling. The entire confection instantly melted in my mouth, blending the slight flavor of the almond flour from which macarons are made with the sugary cookie top and raspberry center. Ambrosia! Clearing my palate with a swig of coffee, I bit into the second macaron. Same delicate confection, but this time filled with caramel-flavored butter creme. I nearly swooned. How had I not tried these earlier in my travels around France? Sylvie was so obviously delighted that I loved the macarons that she sent me on my way with a cup of hot chocolate, also on the house and once again, I wondered about the myth that the French are rude to tourists.

Refortified and warmer, I headed back out into the blustery chill evening for another couple hours of touring this lovely town.

Can’t view the above slideshow of Saint Malo, France? Click here.

When the cold temperatures crept back up my sleeves and down my neck, I finally called it a day and headed for the train station. Near the city gate, another bright display in a storefront caught my eye. Jars of hard candy and fanned displays of candy swizzle sticks beckoned.

Candy shop in St. Malo, France

Candy shop in St. Malo, France

Oh no you don’t I thought.” Already, the food and confections of France had layered ten unwanted pounds on my hips, and I wasn’t about to succumb to yet another temptation. I’m saving myself for macarons.

41 Comments on “I Swoon for French Macarons in Saint Malo, France

  1. Macarons in Japan are a popular confection known as “makaron”.There is also a version of the same name which substitutes peanut flour for almond and is flavored in wagashi style, widely available in Japan.

    • The caramel was very good Ali, but it had more of a butter taste, while the raspberry was pure and rich fruit. My mouth still waters when I think of that raspberry Macaron…

    • Thanks Rocio – my mouth waters whenever I think of them, which is often :-)

  2. I’ve never tried a french Macrons, but this post have convinced me to stuff my face full of them this summer when I’m there :)

    • You won’t regret it, Stephen, even if your waistline does :-)

  3. It was really nice information im jimmy and discovers many places in the world I found some of incredible destination like Kashmir and Rajasthan India.

  4. They sounds absolutely delicious – what a discovery! Although I think the biggest discovery is that not all French people are rude to tourists!! :)

    • That’s definitely the truth Turtle. I had nothing but wonderful experiences with the French.

  5. Next time I am home in Girona I will cross the border to try some of these. I don’t like meringue, but I will try. They look delicious!

    • Cristina, I bet you’ll love them. The meringue isn’t like the fluffy white stuff we us on meringue pie. It’s light and fluffy with an extremely thin crust that cracks and dissolves on the tongue the moment it hits your tongue.

  6. Hmmm… I was salivating the whole time I read this. The boulangerie Paul makes the biggest macarons (almost the size of small McDonalds hamburgers). Thank you for the post!

    • Hi Mirelle: LOL That’s just what I need – macarons the size of a hamburger. Even thinking about it is making my hips expand.

  7. I adore France, Paris, Normandy, Provence, Cote Azure, are are beautiful and filled with delightful French folks, wonderful sites and so scrumptious foods. We encounterd very few rude people, but the ones we did I chalk you to the same reason unhappy period. We have them in US as well.

    I love macaroons, my fav is the Rose…I love the smell of a cottage rose and this was that smell in taste…euphoric

    Thank you for your site…is wonderful, I now saw have to see St Malo

    • Hi Barbara: So glad you like my blog and thanks so much for taking time to leave a comment. Now you’re making me wish I’d tried the rose-flavored macaron.

  8. I had to smile because my experience of macaroons had been limited to the English variety until late last year. I can take or leave the English ones, but I was drawn by the colors too – at a stall in London’s Camden Market. The stallholder said that the colors were all natural, and I was utterly amazed at how the natural, fruit flavor was the dominant taste, not too sweet or sugary. Absolute heaven, and I am a convert!

    Happily for my waistline, I didn’t buy the big box I intended to buy to bring home with me, because the stallholder was one of those French women who have earned her nationality the reputation they have. Very rude. So no more macroons and no photos of her lovely display to spread all over social media and help her promote her business!

    Happily again, she is absolutely the exception rather than the rule in my experience of French people. The rule having been set for me very early (in my 20s) in nowhere other than St Malo, where I had amazing hospitality.

    • Hi Linda: Was just answering another commenter about the colors. I have no idea how they achieve the colors, but I just can’t imagine that they’re all natural. On the other hand, I didn’t taste the bitterness that would result from over-use of food coloring. I’m going to have to check that out!

  9. St Malo is one of my favourite coastal towns. I think we went into that Philippe Bouvier shop the last time we were there. Not cheap but fabulous!

    • Hi Vicky: Small world, no? Their macarons are definitely not cheap but I have to say, well worth the money.

  10. Never had macaroons also,and that makes me wonder how do they color them to those weird colors(green or red , I think I saw a purple one ther also)? Is it somekind of frosting ?

    • Hi John: I have absolutely no idea. I think the gaudy colors are another reason I shied away from trying them so long; I imagined a bitter taste in my mouth from an overuse of food coloring, but that just didn’t happen. Would be interesting to know how they get those colors.

  11. I have to admit, I like both American-style macaroons and French ones – although the French ones definitely have a more complex flavour. I love the pretty display of macaroons in the picture of Sylvie – that kind of thing always adds to the treat experience!

    • Hi Jessica: I have to admit that their unique display was the biggest reason I finally tried them. With food, the visual effect is everything.

  12. Isn’t St Malo lovely? I just stumbled upon it, too – many years ago, while waiting for the ferry to the Channel Islands.

    • It is lovely, Sophie, but it’s the people who made it so for me more than the pretty architecture.

  13. Love the story. Thanks for sharing about Saint Malo — had never heard of it until this post!
    I am not a coconut lover either but the French version sounds wonderful!

    • If you get to France, Linda, you’ve just got to try macarons, AND see St. Malo. They were two highlights of my trip.

  14. Wow, I’ve been there and totally endorse what you say. What struck me was the wonderfully subtle flavours that fill your mouth as you gently bite the crispy exterior. And what varities of macaroons.

    • Hi Mark: After my first macarons, I tried many others around France. It’s true that only a few can make truly great macarons. I never had another one better than that little shop in St.Malo.

  15. I totally love macarons, those photos really make me feel like running to the store right now.

    • Hi Freya: Never thought about the possibility that I might be able to buy them in the States – I’ll have to check that out.

  16. What a wonderful story, now I will definitely add St Malo to my list when I visit France. I had no idea about the macaroons (they seem to be fairly new to Canada)… I knew they were not our typical coconut macaroons.
    The photos are awesome. What kind of camera do you use?
    Thank you… Merci!
    Jen :)

    • Hi Jen: I use a Canon T3i body, but with really good lenses.My walk-around is a 10-22 mm EF-S wide angle. I love it!

    • Unfortunately, so am I, Heather. My hips are proof, at the moment.

    • You, too, can travel like I do Laura Lee! I know you well enough to say you can do anything you choose to do.

  17. One of my great sorrows is that I didn’t have a macaron when I was in France. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you!

    • Ah, what a shame Kate. I almost did the same thing, but the cold and Sylvie saved me from that fate.

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