If you were to randomly pick any 3 of my blog posts at random, chances are good that at least one of them would reference macarons. Today’s post gets to indulge all my macaron fantasies, as yesterday was March 20th, or “Le jour du Macaron” at Pierre Hermé. About a month ago, a friend told me I need to stop by a little store on the Rue Bonaparte to try their macarons as they were supposedly better than Ladurée. Now, I am pretty loyal, but even I had to admit that the odd flavors of PH were just about perfect.
Several months ago, my friend Emma’s cousin Sarah told me about le jour du macaron, where stores all over Paris give away free macarons. Pierre Hermé started the trend, giving you three free macarons. We have been planning on getting some freebies since then, but recently Sarah found out even better news. This year Pierre Hermé issued a challenge – or so my competitive American self likes to term it. If you got your PH map validated in all 6 stores on March 20th, not only would you get 18 free macarons, they would give you a box of 40. Please let that sink in. However the offer lasts only as long as the stocks held out. And if there is one thing Parisians love, it is aggressively waiting in lines. Thus Emma, Sarah, and I resolved to start early to ensure winning. Yes that’s right, we (ok, so I might have been a little more aggressive at first, but they caught the fever) wanted to win. True, there could be more than one winner, but until we had those boxes in our hands, everyone else was competition.
We dubbed it the Macaronanathon 2010, because we did run the whole way. I really do mean ran, and we were not alone with women in Gucci sunglasses and Prada purses right beside us elbowing Japanese tourists with big cameras. I give you the play by play, following a plan outlined by Sarah, who had figured the path with the quickest commutes.
8:45- Meet at Galleries LaFayette. At first, it was just me and a homeless woman with her cat, but soon after Emma, her brother Daniel, and Sarah showed up and then a crowd quickly amassed near the doors. Initially, we were half way joking about running towards the counter. Then the doors opened. Something snapped in my macaron driven psyche, and I was SPRINTING through Galleries LaFayette. And I was not alone. Despite sprinting, we were second in line behind a woman and her two children.
9:58- After a metro and dead sprint, we arrive at Pierre Hermé #2, the second people in line. Macaron Mom and her kids are now three people behind us. Emma is declaring that she is ashamed to be sprinting down the Rue de Rivoli, but is doing it anyways. We see two well-dressed and poised women in line, who had their husbands to drive them to each store.
10:15- Running through Charles De Gaulle Etoile, the longest metro station ever. A brief worry over the Line 1’s efficiency almost derailed our plans, but we recovered by eating macrons that got smashed in the first round of sprints.
10:20- PH #3, in which Emma is trapped into talking with the representative of the charity present in each store ( the idea being that you make a donation as you are snacking on free yummies). Like the true friends we are, we left her. Someone had to wait in line at the next place (don’t worry, she made it out and caught up).
10:39- FOREVER long run to PH #4. As we are jogging to the next metro, we pass Macaron Mom and her exhausted kids. Macaronathon isn’t for everyone.
11- At PH #5 we received much needed encouragement as the clerk exclaimed that we were the first group she had seen with 5 stores. By this point, we look pretty bad. Sweaty, disheveled, and with a slightly manic expression, all shame has evaporated.
11:34- We arrive at the last store, Rue Bonaparte. The line is long here, and Macaron Mom is nowhere in sight. The husbands drop the same non-sweaty and poised wives right at the door. After about 30 minutes in line, we enter and have that moment of pure joy when we turned over our full cards. I think the clerks thought we were insane because we were so giddy. Between the freebies and boxes for the four of us, we had accumulated 224 macarons in odd flavors like chocolate foie gras, green tea, Jasmine blossom, and wasabi and raspberry.
They told us that we were the first to get the box, which in hindsight means we probably could have slept in, walked slowly, and arrived at the final destination with hair and make-up intact. But would it have been as fun? Climbing onto my roof to eat our macarons in the spring sunshine, I don’t think anyone could have been happier.
Thus when I say we won the Macaronathon 2010, I don’t just mean we finished first (even though we did!). I also mean we finished loudest, sweatiest, and giddiest. We finished happiest, and sometimes that is what winning is all about.