Le Macaron French Pastries of Saint Louis, nestled at 111 Lockwood in the heart of Old Webster Groves, offers a colorful, culinary, authentic French experience.
With his genuine warmth and charming quick-wit, owner and St. Louis native Jim McKibben welcomes guests into Le Macaron French Pastries of Saint Louis with a friendly "Bonjour, hello" and an invitation to breathe, relax, decompress, and enjoy life's little delicacies.
"Come in, sit down and relax. Stay as long as you want. Bring your laptop and enjoy a cup of coffee while you work. We'll serve you water in a nice glass. If you are European, you won't want ice in your water, but we'll offer it anyway," Jim said with a wink. "If you need your order to go, we will elegantly prepare your treats, drinks, cakes, tarts, or gifts."
Everything at Le Macaron is intentionally European, from the meticulously prepared Lavazza coffees and espressos served on a saucer with a spoon and a properly placed napkin to the 26 flavors of fresh and authentic French macarons. If you haven't tried a macaron, Jim recommends starting with the Madagascar vanilla and jokingly warns, "I'll see you tomorrow," as these delicacies are hard to resist.
The heart and soul of Le Macaron's culinary artistry lie in the pastry creations of French Chef Didier Saba. The delicate confections crafted by Chef Didier rival the finest delicacies found in France. If customers ask whether Jim makes the pastries, he replies with a sly smile and his best French accent, "No. That is precisely why they are so exceptional."
Jim offers insight into Chef Didier's creative culinary process, describing how each confection is created and how every decoration is placed on cakes and desserts. "It's like watching an artist paint on a canvas," noted Jim, who affectionately refers to the refrigerator in the shop filled with these one-of-a-kind creations as "the art cabinet.'
Chef Didier's commitment to excellence begins with the freshest, world's finest ingredients. His pastries remain unapologetically un-Americanized, free from extra sugar, and prepared "old world style" au natural. When describing the chocolate truffles, Jim explains that QR codes are available to list all of the intricate ingredients, like those found in the cherry cheesecake truffle. "It has brandy-soaked cherry bits and white chocolate wrapped in dark chocolate with color embossing," explained Jim. "The French have a penchant for floral flavors, resulting in desserts like violet gelato, rose, and lavender macarons. It's a multi-sensory experience." Le Macaron's motto is 'First bite is a surprise. The second bite is the flavor. The third bite is the pleasure.'
Transitioning from years in the corporate world to owning a French pastry shop might seem like a leap, but Jim humorously says that opening Le Macron is his answer to the question, "What are you going to do when you grow up?"
"The idea of owning a French pastry shop appealed to me, partly because of the historical connection between France and St. Louis," shared Jim. He revealed that his decision to open the shop in Old Webster Groves was influenced by three compelling aspects: business, practicality, and romance. Le Macaron's authenticity, quality, and imagery are a testament to the vision of the founders Rosalie Guillem and Audrey Saba, the French mother-daughter team whose influence on Jim has been transformative.
His eyes light up as Jim shares his conversations with Rosalie and Audrey. "Rosalie said to me, 'Jim, you are a gem. We love you. We don't want you to just survive. We want you to thrive. We know you are doing well, but are you happy? I must know.' You can't help but be happy with those interactions, love, and support. They have truly changed my life," smiled Jim. "I know I am where I should be because of the energy I feel each time I talk with or about them." Jim is one of the few non-French owners chosen by Rosalie and Audrey. He proudly honors their approach and vision, which profoundly impacts his business and interactions with others. "They approach everything with an attitude of c'est la vie; that's life - don't let things bother you; tomorrow's another day. It's infectious, and that mindset allows you to project differently," stated Jim.
That French mindset and Jim's flair for fun have translated into an exceptionally talented service team that greets customers in the bright, cheery, sun-filled shop. "The team is as much a part of Le Macaron as I am," said Jim. "These high school and college students are more than just employees; they're scholars, athletes, dancers, and achievers. But they are also warriors radiating a vibrant and fearless spirit." Jim beams proudly when customers compliment his exemplary team and says the friendships the staff has formed and how they project their energy and kindness are rewarding.
Jim's commitment to the local community and the city's French community reflects Le Macaron's vibrant spirit. From collaborating with Alliance Français and Centre Francophone at Webster University to creating custom corporate gift boxes for St. Louis City Soccer season ticket holders to hosting French jazz musicians Elsie Parker & The Poor People of Paris in the event space on the lower level of the shop, Jim is eager to immerse his community and his customers in French culture. "Webster is the City of the Arts, and St. Louis has an active French community," said Jim, adding, "To everyone, I say, 'Bonjour. Entrez, respirer, detendez-vous, decompressez et savourez let petites gourmandises de la vie.’ Hello. Come in, breathe, relax, decompress, and enjoy life's little delicacies."
Everything at Le Macaron is European, from the Lavazza coffees served on a saucer with a spoon and a napkin to the 26 flavors of French macarons.