Maison Adam’s boxed bliss

The box says it all: veritable macarons. St-Jean-de-Luz’s Maison Adam doesn’t deal in the pretty Parisian flavour follies that have come to epitomise the term. Here in the Basque country they come damp, dense and chewy, a macaron traditionnel of nothing fancier than ground almonds, egg whites, sugar and salt. These simple but seductively rich, fragrant biscuits have been made by Maison Adam since 1660, said to have been made in celebration of Louis, the Sun King marrying his Spanish bride María Teresa at the nearby border. Maison Adam’s is a poetic and perfectly legitimate claim for the original macaron title, but they are not the only contender. Several cities, including Nancy in Lorraine, Amiens in Picardy and Saint-Emilion, just outside Bordeaux, still turn out their own almond-rich versions along withe equally compelling back stories, if not the Sun King cachet.

Taste: Maison Adam, of course, for the macarons themselves but also for their fetching bright green tins, adorned with a black lauburu, the tumbling comma-headed Basque cross. They also do a fabulous gâteau basque à la crème.
Stay: Zazpi Hotel is a Euro day-glo riot set in a stately old central townhouse, or there’s Villa Arguibel – nestled in the verdant valleys behind Guethary, a bobo beachside village a few miles north – a wonderful maison d’hôtes with super stylish, wilfully eccentric décor. Not to mention lovely hosts. Story – Donna Wheeler.

About Donna Wheeler

Donna Wheeler is the author of several Lonely Planet guidebooks, is a reporter for My Art Guides and the author of the upcoming Paris Precincts title for Hardie Grant. She has published on contemporary art, architecture and design, food, wine and history in a variety of publications. Travel writing follows various careers, including commissioning editor, art director, digital producer and content strategist.