La mosquée de Paris
© W.A Dudley
by Julie Baker
While Paris is internationally renowned for its cafés, youll often encounter a truer sense of the past in its salons de thé that constitute a window on the citys chic, sometimes eccentric charm. At lunchtime, the following tea rooms offer a healthier, lighter alternative to the heavier, more traditional dishes served elsewhere. Here, the emphasis is on salads, pasta and fresh ingredients.
La Mosquée de Paris 39 rue St-Hilaire, 5e, M° Censier-Daubenton, tel: 01 43 31 38 20, open daily. Just across the road from the Jardin des Plantes, this city mosque, with its oriental tiles, ornate wood carvings and gleaming brass tables makes a wonderful place to linger over a classic mint tea, with a copy of The Sheltering Sky. Dont be put off by the crowds on the street-side terrace, there is normally plenty of room in the atmospheric interior courtyard, or any one of the elaborately-decorated rooms. Even if youre not tempted by one of the delicious honey and almond-based pastries, you might be drawn to some of the artisans items on sale in the miniature bazaar. Beyond its tea room, the mosque boasts Paris best known hamman, or Turkish baths.
Bernardaud Galerie Royale, 11 rue Royale, 8e, M° Madeleine, tel: 01 42 66 22 55, closed Sun. Located in one of the most chic galleries in Paris (also home to the Buddha Bar), this elegantly modern tea room is run by the famous porcelain manufacturer of the same name. Parquet and granite floors, subdued lime-hued walls, candy-striped crockery, comfortable chairs and a stylish exterior dining area attract a well-heeled crowd of businessmen and fashion folk, who can afford the delectable patisseries and rather pricy range of teas. A welcomed innovation are the pastry-cooking sessions held twice a month, a bargain at 100F including lesson, tea and treat, (reservations: 01 43 12 52 08).
Fauchon Paris 26 pl de la Madeleine, 8e, M° Madeleine, tel: 01 47 42 60 11, closed Sun. One of the most famous and expensive grocery stores in Paris. The launch of Fauchons corner tea room coincided with the reopening of the place de la Madeleine after years of work on the Méteor metro line, and the airy salle is a huge improvement over the old basement sandwich bar. The terrace offers a spectacular view of the church, and is bathed in sunlight throughout the afternoon, making it a romantic meeting place. The interior however disappoints, the blond wood tables clashing with the oak parquet floor, the gorgeous lemon linen at odds with the scarlet curtains. Come here if you wish to be seen drinking some of the most expensive teas in Paris, alongside society matrons and Japanese tourists.
Les Deux Abeilles 189 rue de lUniversité, 7e, RER Alma-Marceau, tel: 01 45 55 64 04, closed Sun. This friendly family-run tea room in a quiet neighborhood just a stones throw away from the Eiffel Tower, has the relaxed, comfortable feel of someones home, the old-style interior featuring antique furniture and pink, tea-rose wallpaper with matching crockery. The teas are very reasonably priced and include some unusual blends, such as the Mediterranean flavor with its unmistakable citrus nuances. Pastries tend to be grouped around home-style favorites such as tarte tatin, lemon meringue pie and fruit crumbles. While other desserts include a luscious chocolate and orange ice cream.
A Priori Thé 35-37 Galerie Vivienne, 2e, M° Bourse, tel: 01 42 97 48 75, open daily, closed evenings. This friendly and relaxed tea room is located inside the elegant Passage Vivienne. Reputed for its fabulous Sunday brunches (bookings recommended), it serves a wide range of savory dishes for lunch in addition to wholesome, home-style cakes and tarts including an excellent mixed-berry crumble, lush brownies and currant scones served with butter and jam. Among the many beautifully presented teas, try the orange pekoe or the vanilla, perfect for that late-afternoon lift.
Pegotys 79 av Bosquet, 7e, M° Ecole Militaire, tel: 01 45 55 84 50, open daily. This welcoming and unpretentious little tea room is a great favorite with the locals, thanks to an extensive and excellent range of exotic blends, with particular emphasis on subtle fruit flavors. The cut-stone front room with its huge windows overlooking the avenue, leads to a warren of smaller, more intimate areas. Among the many tarts and cakes displayed at the front, try the pear and pistachio, an unusual spin on a French classic.
Mariage Frères 30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg, 4e, M° St-Paul, tel: 01 42 72 28 11, open daily. Founded in 1854, this famous establishment is to tea in Paris what Berthillon is to ice cream. A fragrant whiff of dozens of fine blends strikes you as soon as you step inside, greeted by a mind-boggling selection of canisters aligned on vast wooden counters. The back room salon de thé has a colonial air thanks to the potted palms, rattan flooring and linen-clad waiters.
Le Loir dans la Théière 3 rue de Rosiers, 4e, M° St-Paul, 01 42 72 68 12, open daily. One of the coziest and most comfortable tea rooms in Paris. Once you settle in one of its overstuffed armchairs with a steaming pot of tea and a huge portion of quiche, its very difficult to find the motivation to leave. The slightly down-at-heel decor makes it a must for those nostalgic for the East Village ambience. And, it attracts a mix of students, gays and stylish women who work in or frequent the areas numerous boutiques.
Angelinas 226 rue de Rivoli, 1er, M° Tuileries, tel: 01 42 60 82 00, open daily.
It is said that two generations ago grandmothers took their granddaughters here, whereas today its the other way round. To be sure, this gilded monument to hot chocolate is frequented by affluent female teenagers and matronly great-aunts alike, all tempted by the notoriously rich chocolat lafricain that leaves almost no room for the establishment's signature dessert, the chestnut-based Mont Blanc. Even the interior is reminiscent of a gilded chocolate box, with its yellow walls and gold piping, and the pale, lime green fabric lining all the shelves.
Ladurée 16 rue Royale, 8e, M° Madeleine, tel: 01 42 60 21 79, open daily.
Along with Angelinas, this is the most celebrated salon du thé in Paris and one of the most opulent. Established during the reign of Napoleon III, its excessively ornate detail recalls the work of Garnier. Ladurée is fabled for its wonderfully light, delicate macaroons, which come in many flavors. It is also reputed for its Faubourg chocolate cake, and dont forget to try the wickedly rich chocolate viennois. The branch on the Champs-Elysées is an over-gilded shadow of the original.
Cador 2 rue de lAdmiral-Coligny, 1er, M° Louvre-Rivoli, tel: 01 45 08 19 18, closed Mon. An elegant green and gold exterior leads into a stylish, sumptuous interior featuring huge windows gazing onto the Louvre, spaciously placed, marble-topped tables, and extravagantly molded ceilings with chandeliers. Considering its proximity to the famous museum, its surprising how un-touristy the place feels. Sample the creamy chocolate viennois with one of the many cakes and tarts displayed in the front room. Among the house specialties are a Sachertorte, and the chocolate mousseline Cador.
La Jacobine 59-61 rue St-André des Arts, 6e, M° Odéon, tel: 01 46 34 15 95, closed Mon. Located in an 18th Century passageway, this quaint tea room with its ancient beams makes for an atmospheric stop, especially for the many tourists who pass this way. It proffers a seductive range of blends including a variety from Japan and South Africa, and a small but well-selected range of tarts and pastries of the day. Those with larger appetites may want to order one of their filling sandwiches on Poilâne bread, such as the chicken with bacon and grilled cheese. There is also a large choice of savory and sweet crepes.
À La Cour de Rohan 59-61 rue St-André-des-Arts, 6e, M° Odéon, tel: 01 43 25 79 67, open daily. Although located in the same passageway as La Jacobine, this slightly more upmarket, rose-colored tea room attracts a greater number of students and locals than tourists. It has a relaxed, clubby atmosphere with big, comfortable chairs and a lovely tea service. Despite an extensive selection of blends, its hard not to resist the house specialty, melted hot chocolate with cinnamon.
Tea and Tattered Pages 24 rue Mayet, 6e, M° Duroc, tel: 01 40 65 94 35, open daily. As well as being one of the friendliest literary hang-outs in town, with events such as poetry meetings and signings, this cozy tearoom tucked away in a side street just off the boulevard du Montparnasse also boasts thousands of secondhand books for sale. The salon de thé offers well-priced pots of tea, infusions and authentic root beer. Desserts are dominated by American classics such as brownies, chocolate chip cookies and fruit crumble.