On a recent trip to Paris, I had a list of salons de the and patisseries that I wanted to visit. Some I had been to before, and considered old friends. Others were new discoveries or recommendations from friends that I wanted to try.
When in Paris, I have a tendency to plan my sight-seeing around these “bonnes addresses,” instead of the other way round. So on my first day, I wanted to go to Mariage Freres, one of my favorite places for tea in Paris. Of course, this worked out well, as I arrived in Paris on a Sunday, and most everything is closed, except in the Marais. The Marais is the old Jewish quarter, and still keeps to the tradition of opening on Sundays.
The quarter was bustling with people shopping and socializing in cafes and falafel houses, and Mariage Freres was no exception. Unfortunately, the wait was too long for me to sit and have a cup of tea and their fabulous Tarte Tatin, but I bought a good amount of tea for myself and as gifts.
The men working behind the counter all wear crisp white jackets, and are incredibly knowledgeable about tea. You can discuss the finer points of various Darjeeling teas, or ask them for suggestions with a certain flavor profile. They’ll bring the tea over for you to sniff, and when you’re satisfied, will put it either in tins or bags for you.
I also managed to go to a museum while I was in the area, but Mariage Freres was a much more satisfying experience. If you have the time to sit down and have a cup of tea and one of their beautiful pastries, you won’t be disappointed. The tea will be steeped perfectly, and the pastries will melt your heart as the melt in your mouth!
Another place I visited was Angelina Salon de The. Angelina is another very old business – begun in 1907 – and has a beautiful space on the Rue de Rivoli. The location is just across from the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens, which unfortunately makes it somewhat overrun by tourists. Now, I’m a tourist too, but I always love to go places where I hear more French than English spoken – and where I can timidly attempt to make myself understood in French. I was quite proud of myself when I asked for directions in French, and actually understood the answer!
Angelina had a beautiful selection of desserts, and I chose the Tarte aux Framboises – raspberry tart. It was a layer of perfectly formed raspberries, carefully placed atop an almond cream in a sweet crust. I accompanied it with a pot of Ceylon black tea. I can’t say that the tea stood out in my mind, but it was a good complement to the tart. Angelina is also known for its hot chocolate – chocolate chaud – so if you’re there in cooler weather, definitely give it a try.
It’s hard to go wrong with tea and pastries in Paris, so if you go, be adventuresome and try some of the many salons de the throughout the city. You’ll make memories to last a lifetime.