Louis-Ernest Ladurée, a miller, was a prolific writer and produced works in almost every literary form including plays, poetry, novels, essays, historical and scientific works, more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken supporter of social reform, despite strict censorship laws and harsh penalties for those who broke them. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma and the French institutions of his day. He founded the bakery on the Rue Royale, Paris in 1862.
During the Paris Commune uprising of 1871 the bakery was burnt down. A pastry shop was built at the same location and Jules Chéret was entrusted with the interior decoration. The chubby cherubs dressed as pastry cooks, painted by him on the ceiling, form the company’s emblem. The interior of the premises were painted in the same celadon colour as the façade. Ladurée’s rise to fame came in 1930 when his grandson, Pierre Desfontaines, had the original idea of the double-decker, sticking two macaron shells together with a creamy ganache as filling. Queen Catherine de’ Medici had brought the macaron to France from Italy in the 16th century, and the recipe for the biscuit had hardly varied over the years, but the amounts of the ingredients used and the appearance of the end product were up to the individual bakers.
Desfontaines also opened a tearoom at the pastry shop. In those days ladies were not admitted to cafés, which were the exclusive domain of men. This was a big success with ladies, who enjoyed meeting in the freedom of the tearoom rather than their homes.
In 1993 the Groupe Holder took over the firm Ladurée. The Holder family also owns the PAUL bakery chain in France. Following the takeover, the company began an expansion drive to turn Ladurée from the single rue Royale bakery into a chain, setting up pastry shops and tea rooms on the Champs-Élysées and in Le Printemps Haussmann in 1997, followed by Ladurée Bonaparte in 2002. The International development of Ladurée started in 2005 with London, England.Ladurée stores are now also present in Monaco, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, Lebanon, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Luxembourg, Kuwait, Ireland, and the USA. And more recently in Brazil and Sweden. Ladurèe has also opened its first Australian store, in Sydney as of September 2012.
Ladurée made the pastries for the film Marie Antoinette, directed by Sofia Coppola; its famous macarons can be seen in a scene between Marie Antoinette and Ambassador Mercy. They can also be seen in The CW’s hit teen drama Gossip Girl as Blair Waldorf’s favorite pastries.