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A brief biography of Ernest Ladurée (1858-1933)

Ernest Ladurée is probably one of the lesser-known students of ESCP Europe. He was born in 1858 to Louis-Ernest Ladurée (1836-1904), a modest artisan who, in 1862, opened a bakery in Paris.

His beginnings at ESCP Europe

In 1874, at the age of 16, Ernest began his studies at ESCP. At the time it was managed by the Paris Chamber of Commerce, which had acquired the school five years earlier. Thanks to the work of the Chamber of Commerce, the school’s business was picking up: at that time it taught between 120 and 150 students, the largest student body the school had seen.

The school had originally been based in a townhouse at 102 rue Amelot, where it used to take in less than a hundred students. However, with the school’s mounting success, the house was soon not big enough. From 1875 to 1876, the school continued to expand and flourish to such an extent that the Chamber of Commerce considered opening a second business school.

Ernest Ladurée did not graduate, but was no discouraged

However, the Dean of ESCP convinced the Consular Assembly to make the most of this rising intake by adopting a stricter admissions policy and stricter conditions for awarding diplomas. This made the school much more selective, and Ernest Ladurée suffered the consequences of this harsher approach. After completing his education in July 1876, he did not graduate!

Due to the selective ambitions of the school’s management, it only awarded diplomas to students who obtained more than 13/20 in their final exams. On 22 July 1876, out of a class of 47 students, only 18 received their diplomas at the graduation ceremony.

Though he was one of the 60% who did not pass, 18-year-old Ladurée was not discouraged and remained no less ambitious. He worked in the family bakery where his father completed his training by teaching him how to bake bread and pastries. However, Ernest was not just a baker's apprentice. He was also in charge of managing the family business. About 10 years later, in 1887, he married Adelaide Souchard. This marriage proved to be very advantageous for his future career.

After his father's death

In 1904, Ladurée’s father died, leaving him to run the family business at the age of 46. He and his wife decided to convert the bakery into a tea room. This change was made possible thanks to Adelaide’s parents, Jean-François and Ernestine Souchard, who owned a café in Paris. The combination of the two types of outlet, the Ladurée bakery and the Souchard Parisian café, resulted in one of the very first tea rooms in the capital, selling both pastries and hot drinks.

The beginning of the twentieth century

At the beginning of the twentieth century Ernest and Adelaide sold their first macaroons, and then went on to improve them further, contributing to the burgeoning renown of their establishment. There is no doubt that with the education the young Ladurée received at ESCP Europe, he had the tools to expand his own business. Thanks to his work, the modest, family-run bakery had become an elegant Parisian tea room that would later go on to become an international concern.

Ernest Ladurée died in Paris in 1933, at the age of 85. He is buried in the family mausoleum in the Père-Lachaise cemetery.