Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog www.eyepreferparis.com.
Tea salons are an old and wonderful Paris tradition and a steaming pot of tea accompanied by a pastry is luxurious respite from hectic city life. Here are some of our favorites.
Newly opened last year, Carette Salon de Thé has a glorious location smack in the middle of the picturesque first square of Paris, the Place des Vosges. Not only do they have a fine selection of herbal teas served in individual pots, but also they offer a full food menu, available in English and in French, the size of a mini-encyclopedia. It lists tempting salads, creamy quiches, classic Croque Monsieur’s, sumptuous pastries and breads, and if tea isn’t your thing, their thick as mud hot chocolate is grand replacement. The outdoor café part has heat lamps so you can enjoy the splendid view all year round and the inside has an elegant setting with marble floors. If you want their sweet treats to go, there is a pastry bar in the front of the salon. There is another location on Place Trocadero.
25 Place des Vosges, 3d. arr.
Tel. 01 48 87 94 07
Open 8 a.m.-11:30 p.m., seven days
4 place du Trocadero, 16th arr.
Tel 01 47 27 98 85
Open 8 a.m. –12 p.m., seven days
Most famous for its luscious macarons, Ladurée has one of the most decadent tearooms in town. The original location on rue Royale has an interesting history. It was opened as an upscale patisserie in 1871 and painter Jules Cheret, inspired by the Sistine Chapel, painted the interior with cherubs and gold paint. At the turn of the century, Ernest Ladurée’s wife Jeanne, came up with the clever idea of one of the first tea salons in Paris so her lady friends would be free to meet in public during the day without men escorting them. Macarons are not the only delicious order of dessert business, there are over 40 kinds of tantalizing sweets including fruit tarts in fig & honey, passion fruit, and roasted pineapple, ice cream dishes like Café Liégois with chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, and espresso, and Religieuse Chocolat, a cream puff with chocolate custard cream, which promises to be a “religious” experience. A full food menu is also available.
16 rue Royale, 8th arr.
Tel. 01 42 60 21 79
Open Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Mariage Freres, the oldest teashop in Paris, dates back to 1854. The thriving shop still stands in the Marais district of Paris and looks much like it did in 1854 with creaky wood plank floors and large black canisters containing their much loved teas. In the back of the charming shop is a sunny tea salon with lemon yellow walls and glass skylight, and is for serious tea connoisseurs. Over 30 kinds of tea blends are traditionally steeped using purified water and prepared on an antique wood bar, then served in a large white porcelain and silver pot. Tea is use artfully used to flavor dishes on their food menu and pastry menu. When you are done you can visit the fascinating tea museum upstairs.
30 rue Bourg –Tibourg, 4th arr.
Tel. 01 42 72 28 11
Open 12 p.m.-7 p.m., seven days