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Aug 14, 2013 09:04 PM

Laduree- Champs Elysee

Went to the Champs Elysee location yesterday while I was doing the tourist route. I tried several of the new flavors and they were absolutely divine!

My only complaint is that the staff is not multilingual enough for the crowd. They all speak English but I felt bad for the German guy behind me and a few other people who spoke common European languages besides French and English. The boutique is more tourist hangout than bakery as I'm sure the locals rarely go there. Why don't they have a system where the employees are hired based on ability to communicate with customers. Everyone should be required to speak French and English but there are scores of Spaniards, Germans, Italians, etc. And, to be honest, it is not hard to learn the approximately five phrases that you need to know in several languages. You don't need to be fluent to help a customer. They should wear those tiny cute flags that the employees wear at Versailles to indicate the languages that they speak.

Anyway, I highly recommend everything but I particularly enjoyed the Venezuela chocolate and the Yuzu Gingembre. Bon appetit.

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  1. OK. I have to add my opinion on this. First of all, I only get to visit France once a year---and that annual trip is a three-week foray to Paris and Theoule-Sur-Mer...and when in Paris, we stay with rather than run around to various restaurants the domestic help cooks most of the meals.
    However...and this is big. As an American, when I visit France or any other country where the English language is not the first language of the people from said country, I make sure that it is I who is responsible for the few phrases that may be needed to communicate.
    Never expect that people will understand YOUR native tongue. When traveling abroad I like to think of myself as an "ambassador" for my country. As such, I want my French (or any other country) friends, family, and strangers to know that I will not be arrogant nor will I be entitled. I try to blend and speak what little French I know. Making an attempt at the language opens a huge window of help and I"ve made lots of friends that way. I do NOT expect any sales assistants to speak and understand English. That mindset is arrogant and it is rude.
    As for Laduree--- good but overpriced. I make better macaron in my own kitchen.

    5 Replies
    1. re: jarona

      As a native, I occasionally have the opposite problem on the Champs Elysées, French seems to be the 3rd or 4th language of some shop assistants/ servers etc and sometimes I have to switch to English to communicate with them.

      1. re: jarona

        Jarona - I'm with you; it's our problem not theirs, even on the C-E.
        Would that Americans spoke more than 1 language as so many Scandanavians, Dutch and other Western Europeans do.

        1. re: jarona

          Concur. .
          Love the macarons at Ladurée but I would never expect the staff to speak my native tongue.

          1. re: jarona


            Did you read what I wrote?

            My native tongue is English.
            They all speak English.
            I speak (enough) French.
            This has nothing to do with people understanding ME.

            PLEASE READ before you respond.

            Thank you.

            1. re: jarona

              Okay folks, I think we've exhausted the subject.
              Let's go to what's upcoming with the l'entree.
              Looks like a fun autumn once we flee-ers of Paris return as I intend to do tmrw.

          2. The problem with Ladurée is not language, it is the industrial-quality pastries posing as artisanal.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Ptipois

              and the rather hefty dose of haughty disdain served up with the pastries.

              1. re: Ptipois

                But which native ever visits the Champs ? I would not know if every shop assistant there speaks exclusively Basque.

              2. I think people who live and work in France can only be expected to speak French. In a touristy spot it would be great for the tourists if they spoke more languages, but honestly I can't imagine getting upset about them not being able to communicate with me because I couldn't communicate with them, if you see what I mean. I don't speak French but I do try to remember at least a few key polite phrases to help me. It really helps a lot.

                6 Replies
                1. re: LulusMom

                  That's why you're a great traveler and a great diner and in general a great experiencer, Lulusmom.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    I disagree completely. Go to Versailles, Eiffel Tower, and most of the major spots and there are multilingual people. Even in NYC, there are (now) bilingual people at most of the major tourist spots.

                    I speak French exclusively when I am in France unless I am speaking with someone who refuses to speak with me in French. I also speak English, Spanish and some Hebrew and a smattering of Russian and a few phrases of several other languages (including Icelandic, Hattian Creole, Tagalog, German, Hindi, etc). So, you all missed the point entirely.

                    When I wait 30 minutes in line and then have to wait an additional 15 minutes because 1/4 of the customers cannot communicate with the salespersons, that is a big problem. The salespersons should ABSOLUTELY learn to speak the relevant phrases in the four or five most common languages. It would be a wise business decision and would increase work flow. I know a Emergency Room physician who can ask a handful of important questions in more than ten languages. Who cares if the patient has lived in NY for 10 years and "should" speak English. The doctor's day goes faster if he knows how to communicate with his client. It works out for everyone.

                    Laduree should require their employees at the Champs Elysee location to be able to communicate in a minimum of three languages. They don't need to be proficient. They just need to be able to ask someone what they want and how many, etc. If I were the owner, I would require this.

                    1. re: t19103

                      I think you were quite clear in your original post and everybody, including Jarona, read you correctly.

                      Your mistake begins where you are "sure" that the locals "rarely" go to Ladurée. I wonder what makes you so sure of that; many Parisians (not I) regularly shop at Ladurée. It has plenty of tourist visitors; fine, it was indeed designed with that purpose in mind. But it remains a French shop, not the duty-free shopping area of an international airport.

                      From then on, your logic slides down a rather unlikely slope leading to your notion of what "should be required" of the locals of a given country or city. Fortunately it is only your notion, and not everybody travels with such authoritarian expectations.

                      1. re: Ptipois

                        The bit that surprised me was the fact the Germans, Italians and Spanish couldn't' communicate in English. It's so commonly spoken across Europe that you must have come across a very rare sub-set that couldn't communicate in basic English. Maybe a different problem for the hordes of PRC or Russian visitors now thronging Paris.

                        So add in Japanese and I agree all servers in Paris should speak at least seven major languages - hopefully the folks from the Nordic countries won't mind.

                        1. re: PhilD

                          as a teacher of English as a second language to adult professionals in France (on the edge of the Paris metropolitan area, no less) I can assure you that communication in basic English is rather grossly overestimated by the French government.

                  2. I grow the variety of pumpkins that originated in that region and get $15-$20 apiece for them around Halloween. (just thought I'd throw that in)

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                      What is your position on pumpkin macarons?

                      1. re: Ptipois

                        And I hope these are citrouilles multilingues... a one-language French pumpkin is so unhelpful on the Champs-Elysées

                      2. re: mrbigshotno.1

                        Just to clarify, I grow the Champs Elysee pumpkins from this area in France, they are also known as Cinderella pumpkins as they have that perfect shape and beautiful orange color like Cinderella's coach.

                        1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                          they grow pumpkins in Paris?

                          I think you'll find that the ones that look like Cinderella's coach are called potirons -- citrouilles (if and as you can find them) are the ones used for Jack o'Lanterns, and aren't all that great to eat.

                      3. From an business owner's perspective, yes it would be "nice" if all my employees could speak 3-5 languages and I'm sure it would improve customer service. I don't see how that point can be argued.

                        However, that is completely unrealistic - and I would argue the side of other posters who relay the sentiment that it is on the traveler's shoulders to learn some of the language of the countries to which they travel.

                        I have often thought when traveling abroad in heavily touristy areas, why don't some of these shops have some sort of sign/pamphlet/etc with the translations of key ingredients in multiple languages. That shouldn't be hard to create and would do wonders. I have tried on occasion when traveling to create my own version of this - and it is helpful (though of course mine is only in English and the respective foreign language).

                        As a foreigner sometimes I just need to know the basics - is this a chicken dish or a fish dish? is that pistachio or mint? They could easily have something that translates their key ingredients (fruits/nuts) into multiple languages - god knows you're sitting in line long enough you'd have time to read it.

                        From a business owners perspective, that would be good business if you know 90% of your customer base is foreign.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: thimes

                          Quite a few places in Paris do have multi-lingual menus etc. However, rules number one and two of choosing a good restaurant are to avoid any place with menus in multiple languages (especially multiple languages on the same menu), and second be suspicious of places with English menus. In fact these rules tend to hold true in most countries not just France.

                          1. re: PhilD

                            unless the "English" menu is a one-page job in a sheet protector, churned out by the owner's kid as a school project.

                            If the translations are utter crap, it's still probably okay.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Oh no it's not okay - take a stroll along rue Mouffetard and rue du Pot-de-Fer where all the crappy tourist restaurants are, and have a laugh reading the menus on the boards.
                              In Paris, I'd be (and I am) suspicious of any menu in English.

                              Besides, all English translations of menus are, as a rule, very crappy below the Michelin 2-star range.

                              1. re: Ptipois

                                upon hearing my accent, many restauranteurs are excited to bring over their single copy of an English menu.

                                well over 90% of the time, I end up reading the French menu, (I don't really need the English menu, but they're soooo proud of it..) because the English menu is illegible.

                                There is life with less than two stars, and the food can be pretty decent.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  No, what I meant is that only restaurants above the 2-star level generally decide to devote some of their budget to a proper translator of culinary terms (which is a rare item, I should know...).

                                  Below that line begins the hilarious zone.

                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                    Parallel to the problems presented by a badly translated menu are those that occur because a speaker tries to interact in another language in which he is marginally fluent and gets in over his head. Our biggest misunderstandings have occurred when there was complete agreement, when both party were absolutely sure that they understood the other when in fact they did not at all.

                                    A variation of "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing".

                                    1. re: Ptipois

                                      ah, sorry -- we're on the same page, then.

                                      and they're always so very, very proud of that poor menu.

                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                        You must have seen some of the same translations that I have chuckled over, e.g., lawyer salad, net of ox, calf language, entire grilled wolf, etc.

                              2. re: thimes

                                From a business owners perspective, they simply don't have to since 90% of their customer base is willing to do business as it's always been done.