The history of Parisian tea salons is intimately tied to the history of the Ladurée family.
It all began in 1862, when Louis Ernest Ladurée, a miller from France’s southwest, created a bakery at 16 rue Royale in Paris.
During the same year, the first stone of the Garnier Opera was laid, and the area surrounding the Madeleine was rapidly developing into one of the capital’s most important and elegant business districts. The most prestigious names in French luxury goods had already taken up residence in this neighborhood.
In 1871, while Baron Haussmann was giving Paris a ‘‘new face’’, a fire made access to the transformation of the bakery to a pastry shop.
The decoration of the pastry shop was entrusted to Jules Cheret, a famous turn-of-the-century painter and poster artist. M Cheret sought inspiration from the painting techniques used for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the Garnier Opera.
By incorporating them in his work, he added depth and relief to the ceilings ornamented with cherubic children.
Under the Second Empire, cafes developed and became more and more luxurious. They attracted Parisian high society. Along with the chic restaurants around the Madeleine, they became the showcases of the capital.
The beginning of this century found Paris wrapped up in a frenzy of distraction and going out in public. Parisians flocked to the Universal Exposition. Women were also changing. They wanted to make new acquaintances. Literary salons and literature circles were outmoded.
Ernest Ladurée’s wife, Jeanne Souchard, daughter of a well-known hotelier in Rouen, had the idea of mixing styles: the Parisian café and pastry shop gave birth to one of the first tea salons in town. The “salon de thé” had a definite advantage over the cafés: they permitted ladies to gather in freedom. Jeanne Souchard succeeded in combining the turn-of-the-century trend to modernism
with knowledge of the merits of a craft transmitted by her family.
The rue Royale tea room was enlarged in 1930 by Pierre Desfontaines, second cousin of Louis Ernest Ladurée. When he retired, his son, Jean Marie, and his niece, Dominique, presided over the tea salon.
This site imbued with a refined atmosphere and charged with history seduced David Holder and his father Francis Holder, founder of the Holder Group. In 1993, they decided to buy this Parisian institution, and promote and enlarge the famous “Maison”. In September 1997, a new prestigious Ladurée address both a restaurant and tea room opened on the Champs-Elysées. The mission of the President David Holder is thus to bring back the great classics, which have contributed to the reputation of this ‘salon de thé’, as well as create an environment for gastronomic creativity in Paris. With him, Ladurée will be a tea salon, pastry shop, restaurant, chocolate shop and an ice cream parlor.
The Holder group intends to introduce this century-old name in the main capitals of the world and develop new business opportunities.