Breakfast of Champions

There are few things that I like more than breakfast. Pizza is one of them. Sweatpants might be another. French pastries are probably also up there. There’s a pattern forming.

Anyways, suffice it to say breakfast is awesome. It’s the meal equivalent of Liam Neeson. It’s the most important meal of the day blah blah, but until the onset of brunch culture and your eventual discovery of bottomless mimosas, you didn’t really care all that much. Coffee. That was your breakfast. Think about- did you even know how much you needed Bryan Mills and his very particular set of skills until Taken? Now can you even imagine your life without him? I rest my case.

If you need further proof, which I assume you don’t given the iron clad nature of the above mentioned theatrical hero with equal parts heart and ass-kickery, I offer this: breakfast is the only meal of the day where you can eat dessert as a main course in a completely judgement free zone. Pancakes, crumb cakes, coffee cakes, all sorts of different cupcakes which are basically just muffins with fancy icing hats (aka health food), pastries, danish- and you can top all of it with that sticky golden miracle juice that is maple syrup AND NO ONE CAN SAY A THING. It’s a wonderful, fleeting thing (as make-your-own salad bars come barreling out the backroom before noon to which I say WTF).

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Given all this and given the fact that breakfast in Paris has slowly made its way from croissant et café to full on brunch, you’d think I’d drop everything for what some have called life-altering french toast. But despite all the guidebooks and their high praise, all the beautiful people and their dreamy Instagrams, it still took me almost a year to enjoy petit dejeuner at Ladurée.

Please note that this hesitation in no way applies to the pastry shop portion of their enterprise. I go there often. Too often. More often than anyone with skinny jeans and thoughts of eventual beach vacations should admit (#iregretnothing). Breakfast there always sounded like a great idea in theory but my replies to these invitations were always along the same lines: “I don’t know, isn’t it a tad…touristy?”

Akin to the Louvre on any given weekend in August where just the very mention makes you want to end it all by jumping head first from the Winged Victory (though on second thought the map wielding millions milling about underneath would no doubt cushion your fall), I thought Laduree would hold the same fate- slightly chaotic and not at all as charming as described. Also, how could anyone, so supremely adept at pastry making be just as good in the full on breakfast mode department? Not possible. Not fair.

inconceivable

Not one to leave anything to chance for too long, off I went to Rue Royale, the O.G. of the Ladurée empire. This particular shop was built in 1871 after the original bakery was burnt down during the Paris Commune. The pastel colored windows hinted at what was to come and as I entered the dining room with its hand painted cherubbed ceilings and gilded antique mirrors, I sensed at once a very familiar feeling- I was dead wrong.

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My fellow guests were elegant, rather quiet and oh so French. While I, on the other hand, was none of these things, eagerly whipping out my camera to capture every glorious gold detail.

Coffee, obviously, was a must. Followed by the french toast whose reputation had preceeded it. Two fluffy, egg soaked slices of brioche later and I was in heaven. We had ordered the croissant (meh), the madeleines (double meh), but this was what we had come for and it, in a word, was perfect. Even the syrup was served piping hot in a tiny silver pitcher with little monogrammed sleeves over the handle so that 1. you don’t burn your hand and 2. you are reminded as to how classy an establishment this is. Even the sugar was served in customized pastel packets (another sign I probably didn’t belong there.)

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In the end I did it to myself really, depriving my stomach far too long of the most delicious french toast that ever was. So, while this may have been my first foray into the glorious world of breakfast à la Ladurée, it certainly won’t be my last. Plus, everyone knows that in Paris eating croissant on your way to real breakfast is completely acceptable practice, thereby giving up nothing and gaining EVERYTHING.

But be warned mes amis, once you’ve tasted the sweet sweet goodness of a Ladurée breakfast, you can never, ever go back. So…

Liam Neeson Good Luck Taken

p.s. While the first picture is the (cutest ever) exterior of the Ladurée location in Saint-Germain which also has an adjoining tea room for meals, I went to (and adored) my breakfast on Rue Royale. The only location I’d say avoid like the plague is on the Champs-Élysée.