Paris tea salons

If you thought tea was the preferred beverage of the English and the Chinese, then it’s time to visit one of Paris’ sumptuous tea salons. There are some wonderfully elegant places to enjoy a break from the sightseeing and indulge in a refreshing cup of tea with a delicious p�tisserie...

 

ANGELINA Chocoholics beware, Angelina’s could prove to be your downfall. Its legendary chocolat chaud l’Africaine is so rich that one cup will satisfy chocolate urges for months. To lead you astray there’s also the famous Mont Blanc cake, the ingredients of which have been a closely guarded secret for more than 100 years, as well as all manner of other beautiful treats. Founded in 1903 by an Austrian confectioner Antoine Rumpelmeyer, Angelina’s has had, among its famous client�le, Coco Chanel (who lived for some time around the corner in the Ritz) and Proust, and has been a popular meeting place for Parisian gastronomes for decades. Its wonderful Belle �poque d�cor was designed by Edouard-Jean Niermans, whose design influence can still be seen throughout France and Europe, and makes Angelina’s an elegant refuge from nearby tourist hot spots such as Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. Sink in to one of the many leather armchairs, have your treats served at your marble-topped table, and watch the world go by.

SIGHTS NEARBY Jardin des Tuileries is named after the tile factories that stood here in the Middle Ages. These days, it’s hard to believe the elegant pathways that sweep from the Place de la Concorde up to the Louvre could have been anything other than a wonderful place to take things easy when the pace of Paris gets too much.

If you’re looking for a dose of art history, then visit the Mus�e de l’Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries (tel: (Fr) 1 44 77 80 07, www.museeorangerie. fr). It boasts Monet’s eight Nymph�as (waterlillies), as well as the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection.

The Mus�e des Arts D�coratifs (107 Rue de Rivoli, tel: (Fr) 1 44 55 57 50, www.lesartsdecoratifs. fr) is made up of several parts, each dedicated to a different form of decorative art. See some fascinating old posters at the museum of advertising or some wonderful costumes at the museum of fashion and textiles.

Angelina 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris Tel: (Fr) 1 42 60 82 00 (Also at Palais des Congr�s, 2 Place de la Porte Maillot, 75017 Paris)

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TEA CADDY Hidden in a corner of Paris’ Latin Quarter, in the shadow of �glise Saint- Julien-Le-Pauvre, Tea Caddy has been serving tea and delicious cakes and biscuits to Anglophile Parisians since 1928. It owes its English heritage to its founder, an English governess called Miss Kinklin who ran the tea shop until 1949. Little has changed since those days, and the wood panels, oak beams and stained glass create a cosy and intimate atmosphere in which you can spend hours sipping teas from China, Japan and India. Many of them come from La Maison des Trois Th�s, supplier of the best Taiwanese tea in Europe. When it comes to the cakes, you’ll be spoiled for choice – but be warned, it’s English through and through. Fruit crumbles, apple pie, English muffins and fruit cake abound; and the most popular? Devon scones, cream and jam. It’s music to a Devon girl’s ears.

SIGHTS NEARBY World-famous bookshop Shakespeare and Co. (37 Rue de la B�cherie, 75005 Paris. Tel: (Fr) 1 43 25 40 93, www.shakespeare andcompany.com) is just a stone’s throw away – perfect if you need some reading material to enjoy with your tea.

Petit Pont, leading to �le de la Cit�, is just a few minutes’ walk away. Stand and stare at the breathtaking Cath�drale Notre Dame de Paris.

La Conciergerie (2 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris. Tel: (Fr) 1 53 40 60 80) is where Marie-Antoinette spent many of her final days during the Revolution. This medieval fortress is the oldest remaining part of the Palais de la Cit� and was the home of the royals before they decamped to the Louvre. Check out the stunning Hall of the Guards and Marie-Antoinette’s former cell.

Tea Caddy 14 Rue Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre 75005 Paris Tel: (Fr) 1 43 54 15 56 www.the-tea-caddy.com Open every day 11am to 7pm.

 

MAISON DES TROIS TH�S If you think that Paris is all about caf� cr�me and croissants, think again. Tucked away in the fifth arrondissement is the Maison des Trois Th�s, a world-renowned tea emporium owned by the indomitable Madame Yu Hui Tseng. Originally from Taiwan, Mme Tseng takes great care and attention to create delicate blends in the humidity and temperature-controlled cellar underneath the Maison – thanks to the cellar’s 17-ton capacity, the resulting ten-page tasting menu can be rather overwhelming (€134 for a cup of tea anyone?). Luckily the friendly and charming staff are on hand to explain the differences between the hundreds of blends available, ranging from €8 a cup upwards, including the house speciality, blue-green tea. For visitors, the charm of the Maison lies as much in the d�cor as it does in the d�gustation. The sparse dark wood tables are set out next to the floor-to-ceiling windows, with green and gold patterned tea canisters lining the bare red-brick interior wall. A small wooden tray is brought to the table for each guest, laid out with the appropriate combination of tiny terracotta teapots, decanting cups and dainty white china tasting thimbles. Set to soothing oriental background music, the staff explain the different brewing techniques suitable for each blend, and then leave you to explore the various nuances that each infusion brings – a perfect way to create your own oasis of calm in France’s bustling capital city.

SIGHTS NEARBY The Jardin des Plantes is part of France’s Mus�e National d’Histoire Naturelle ( 57 Rue Cuvier, tel: (Fr) 1 40 79 56 01, www.mnhn.fr) – four of the museum’s galleries are housed in the gardens, as well as a small zoo. Just next door is the Institut du Monde Arabe (Rue des Foss�s Saint-Bernard, tel: (Fr) 1 40 51 38 38, www.imarabe.org), an enormous beautiful metal building on the banks of the Seine. Built in 1980, it aims to develop relations between the Arab world and Europe. Visit the rooftop restaurant for incredible views over Paris. Lastly, don’t miss the Panth�on, originally built as a church, it’s now best known as the burial place of Voltaire and Rousseau among others.

Maison des Trois Th�s 1Rue Saint-M�dard 75005 Paris Tel: (Fr) 1 43 36 93 84 www.troisthes.com Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 7:30pm. Tastings 1pm to 6.30pm.

 

LADUR�E With its gilded fa�ade and stunning window displays Ladur�e on the Champs�lys�es sums up the elegance of 19thcentury Paris to the letter. It’s hard not to be wowed by the grandeur as you enter the bustling tea shop and inhale the delicious aromas that pervade. The establishment dates back to 1862 when Louis Ernest Ladur�e, a miller from southwest France, created a bakery at 16 Rue Royale, near Place Madeleine, in Paris. In 1871, during Baron Haussmann’s transformation of the city, there was a fire which resulted in the bakery being converted into a p�tisserie with Jules Cheret, a turn-of-the-century painter and poster artist, entrusted with the design. At the same time caf� culture was beginning to flourish in the capital and it was Ladur�e’s wife, Jeanne Souchard, who had the idea of combining a caf� and pastry shop to create Ladur�e – one of the first salons de th� in Paris. There are three other Ladur�e shops in Paris located in Saint- Germain-des-Pr�s, in the department store Printemps and the one we visited on the Champs-�lys�es.

Everything from the fine bone china to the sterling silver cutlery gives an opulent feel to the tea room and it looked even more lavish when my decadent millefeuille framboise arrived. My friend opted for the equally wicked plaisirs sucr�s, an almond meringue sandwich with crushed hazelnuts, crusty praline, Chantilly cream and a milk chocolate filling. We washed our sweet treats down with a pot of Earl Grey which completed our perfect afternoon tea. Ladur�e is most famous for its beautifully coloured macarons available in 26 flavours, from simple chocolate and vanilla to the more exotic mango with jasmine and blackcurrant violet. An astonishing 15,000 are sold every day. It was Pierre Desfontaines, second cousin of Ladur�e, who first thought of taking two macaron shells and joining them with a ganache filling. Each season a new flavour is created with the variety of colours as important as the range of flavours. It’s a crime to visit and leave without a beautiful pistachio-coloured box encasing a delectable assortment of macarons.

SIGHTS NEARBY While the Eiffel Tower offers one of the most famous vantage points over the city, for a different perspective try the Arc de Triomphe (tel: (Fr) 1 55 37 73 77). Climbing the 284 steps to the viewing platform is well worth the effort and will burn off a macaron or two. The views from the top are just incredible.

Escape the crowds of the Champs�lys�es and take a sneaky peak into how the other half live on a wander down the �ber chic Avenue Montaigne. The treelined boulevard is home to many designer boutiques and is said to have overtaken Rue Faubourg-Saint-Honor� as the highend fashion neighbourhood of Paris. If you keep walking down Avenue Montaigne you’ll get to the banks of the Seine and Pont de l’Alma where Bateaux- Mouches river tours depart (tel: (Fr) 1 42 25 96 10 or visit www.bateaux-mouches.fr).

The glass-domed roof of the Grand Palais (Avenue Winston Churchill, tel: (Fr) 1 44 13 17 17 or visit www.grandpalais.fr) is an iconic fixture on the Parisian skyline. The building epitomises the grandeur of Belle �poque Paris. The exhibition hall showcases numerous events from hautecouture catwalk shows to art fairs. Forthcoming exhibitions include an art exhibition Renoir in the 20th Century, which runs until 4 January 2010.

Ladur�e 75 Avenue Champs-�lys�es, 75008 Paris Tel: (Fr) 1 40 75 08 75 or visit www.laduree.fr Open daily.

 

MARIAGE FR�RES Tea is not taken lightly at Mariage Fr�res, in fact it’s something of an art form. And you can forget the humble English cuppa, this is tea � la fran�ais. With more than 500 different types of tea, this Parisian institution is not one for the indecisive. But thankfully the waiting staff are extremely knowledgeable and more than happy to explain the different blends on offer. Mariage Fr�res’ philosophy is that tea is like wine and, when matched suitably, is the perfect accompaniment to a meal. You could say that here, the waiters are to tea, what sommeliers are to wine. Mariage Fr�res was founded by Henri and Edouard Mariage in 1854 who carried on the family passion for tea first started by their grandfather Jean-Fran�ois Mariage, a tea and spice trader. Today there are six branches of Mariage Fr�res in Paris with the one at Place Madeleine incorporating a museum.

We visited the salon de th� on Rue Faubourg Saint-Honor� on a beautiful summer’s day and sat outside to enjoy the sunshine. When the waiter came over the first thing he asked was whether we would like th� glac� or th� chaud. I’d not even considered having iced tea but as it was such a warm day I felt in need of cooling down. I went for a Chandernagor, a black tea with chai spices and my friend had the Marco Polo, a white fruit tea with flowers. The drink provided the much-needed refreshment I was craving – and was definitely better than any iced tea I’d ever tasted. But then I’m not surprised when you consider the savoir-faire that Mariage Fr�res has when it comes to tea. You only need to look on its website and read the five golden rules for making tea successfully to know that much more goes into it than simply boiling a kettle and throwing in a tea bag. At Mariage Fr�res there’s an art to making good tea and it’s not to be rushed. The teashops also sell a vast range of teas in pretty coloured tins and other tea-related paraphernalia such as teapots and cups and saucers, which make lovely traditional French gifts. With tea shops in Paris, as well as tea counters in department stores around France, it’s easier than ever to experience Parisianstyle tea time at its very best.

SIGHTS NEARBY Although Parc Monceau is not the largest of Paris’ gardens it is easily one of the most charming. Located just off Boulevard de Courcelles, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic and take time out from sightseeing. Surrounded by beautiful Haussmann-era apartments, the park, created by the Duc d’Orl�ans, was the first English-style garden in the city and has a lake, lawns and follies including Corinthian pillars. It is a complete contrast to the formal gardens seen in the rest of Paris. The immaculately kept park in Avenue Hoche is an oasis in the chic 8th arrondissement and you’ll find many local Parisians relaxing and exercising there at weekends.

For an insight into the life of the haute bourgeoisie of 19th-century Paris, head to Mus�e Jacquemart-Andr� just by Parc Monceau. The museum (tel: (Fr) 1 45 62 11 59, www.musee-jacquemartandre. com) was the private residence of a husband and wife duo of art collectors Edouard Andr� and N�lie Jacquemart. The pair devoted their lives to their collections, which are on display in the museum and include 18th-century French paintings from the likes of Jean-Marc Nattier and Jean- Honor� Fragonard alongside Dutch and Italian Renaissance works.

It’s worth venturing beyond the periph�rie to visit La D�fense, the business district of Paris. The Grande Arche (tel: (Fr) 1 49 07 27 27, www.grandearche. com) was created for the bicentenary of the Revolution in 1989, and is part of the Grande Axe, which lines up the Louvre, the Champs-�lys�es and the Arc de Triomphe. Visitors can take the glass lift to the top for stunning views of the city – just don’t look down.

Mariage Fr�res 260 Rue Faubourg Saint-Honor� 75008 Paris Tel: (Fr) 1 46 22 18 54 www.mariagefreres.com Open seven days a week.