For any dessert lover, a trip to Paris is not complete without tasting a genuine macaron - the quintessential French cookie! (Not to be mistaken for the American coconut flavored macaroon). The basic formula for this dessert is pretty much the same wherever you go: a ganache filling sandwiched between two small almond-base meringue cookies. However, despite the simple ingredients, it is surprisingly difficult to find the allusive Parisian pastry, a tasty macaron. The consistency, shape, flavor pairings, circumference size, and thickness all come into question in achieving the delicate balance between texture and flavor.

Although macarons are sold in most bakeries throughout Paris and even at McDonalds, you need to dig a little deeper for the authentic gems. The following shops are the best Paris has to offer.

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Laduree is the original creator of macarons. It is safe to say that this shop is the most renowned sweet shop in Paris, and possibly in the world. The macarons range from classic flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, and salted caramel to rose, orange blossom, and even licorice. The outer cookie layers are crunchy, giving a strong meringue taste that contrasts perfectly with the silky filling. The layer of filling is flavorful but light and more jam-like than buttery. These melt seamlessly on your tongue, as though you just consumed a sugar-spun cloud.

Not to Miss: Tea time offers the full Laduree experience. The décor of the shops and attached tea salon are reminiscent of Coppola's Marie Antoinette and you will truly feel like a royal when served dainty and intricate pastries on beautiful ceramics. Also, the arrangement of the macarons is a sight to see, even for those who do not necessarily like the taste.

Photo Credit: Brett

Pierre Herme

Pierre Herme macarons are good enough to rival Laduree's. These macarons are a personal favorite. The ganache is thick and smooth, while the outer meringue is soft almost like a cake rather than a cookie. The filling is rich but not heavy, retaining the trademark macaron airiness leaving you craving another. Pierre Herme was also the first to create interesting flavor combinations that sound unappealing but mix flawlessly like strawberry wasabi, chocolate foie gras, and asparagus olive oil.

Not to miss: This genius patisseur started "le jour du macaron" - the day of macarons - which falls every year on March 20. Pierre Herme shops and other select patisseries give out free macarons and ask for donations in order to raise money and awareness for the charity Federation des Maladies Orphelines.

Photo Credit: Edward Kimber

Pain de Sucre

This bakery is renowned for its creative and tasty pastries. The macarons are just as unconventional. The flavors are unique and incorporate interesting ingredients such as Morello cherry with pistachio. They also sell savory macarons. An interesting combination is the angelica root and goat cheese macaron. Be prepared to wait as there is always a line that spills out on to the streets and the store is often closed.

Not to miss: Long macarons called Krac Krac that come in various flavors.

Photo Credit: Edward Kimber

Gérard Mulot

Gérard Mulot makes all the traditional flavors such as chocolate and raspberry, but also offers seasonal specials such as Chestnut or Cassis in the winter and fall, and cherry, banana and mint for the spring and summer months. The macarons are crunchier and sweeter than the average macaron and will truly satisfy any one with a sweet tooth. Another unique element is that the outside shell is chubby and unlike the typical macaron, it is grainier on the surface with bits of the flavor's raw ingredient coating the shell.

Not to miss: Order a big lemon macaron, which is filled with lemon curd rather than lemon flavored ganache.

Photo Credit: Yuichi Sakuraba

Sadaharu Aoki

This bakery combines tastes from the two greatest culinary capitals of the world: Japan and France. Parisian fare can be extremely heavy, especially for those whose stomachs are not adjusted to the rich cuisine. If you want a snack or a dessert but want to avoid traditional butter lavished sweets, you should definitely check out this Paris patisserie shop. Like anything Japanese, the macarons are beautifully crafted and very petite. They are the smallest in circumference and in thickness, so you can pop it in your mouth and enjoy the soft airy taste of a macaron while avoiding a terrible stomachache.

Not to miss:Anything green tea, especially the green tea macarons, which are made from authentic matcha (Japanese green tea) and are not sold elsewhere.