The beginning of September in Paris is the time of la rentrée, the moment when Parisians come back from their month of holidays to get back into the swing of normal life. With everyone returning to town, we’re all eager to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in weeks. Starting September 1st, every free moment on the calendar begins to fill up with rendez-vous amongst friends. In fact, as I sit and write this, I’m in a tiny café tucked away below Pigalle waiting for a friend to join me over tea and catch up.
And so, there is no better time to visit Paris’s many tearooms and enjoy them during such visits. Like wine or perfume, the French take tea very seriously. All it takes is one visit to the Mariage Frères here to understand. Gentlemen dressed in white coats stand in front of rows and rows of tea in canisters behind them at the counter, cataloged to a T (pun intended) for you to sample to your heart’s desire. They have so many, in fact, that the menu for the tea room is actually an entire book, each with an in-depth description of the hundreds of teas they have on hand from all over the world. It’s a well kept little secret, but it is actually the French Mariage Frères that supply the tea to Harrod’s in London that is rebranded as British. Even though our neighbors to the North are typically more known for tea time, France’s history with tea is utterly evident at Mariage Frères and beyond.
Another one of my favorite tea rooms in Paris is Nina’s. Here things are slightly more simple. In fact, Nina’s is known for one tea in particular, a light rose blend with a hint of apple. But not just any apples, apples that come from the garden of Versailles. So it’s fitting that here you can enjoy tea in typical Marie Antoinette style, perched on perfectly pink Louis XVI chairs. If you ever visit, I recommend indulging in a slice of their cake as well. I can’t think of a more perfect place for a tea time this time of year to catch up with girlfriends.
Should you find yourself in Paris, here is a list of my favorite places for a quintessentially French tea time.
Le Peninsula — The Lobby restaurant at The Peninsula Hotel in the chic 16th arrondissement offers a beautiful modern French tea service complete with savory and sweet snacks and your accompanying tea served hot or iced... rcomme vous voulez!
Mariage Frères — My favorite Mariage Frères location is in the Marais. They have probably the most extensive selection of teas you will find anywhere in the world, and you will even find a charming small tea museum upstairs. It’s also the perfect place to pick up some teas as souvenirs to take home.
Nina’s Paris — As I mentioned, this is one of my favorite places in Paris. Hidden just behind the Place Vendôme, it is always quiet with a very kind staff to welcome you.
Lily of the Valley — This sweet little spot in the Haute Marais is a very welcome new addition to Paris in recent years. Their collection of vintage tea cups is simply adorable, and their wide selection of teas can be enjoyed with a few of their fresh made desserts.
Ladurée — For another very special tea time in Paris, visit Ladurée’s location in the 6th arrondissement. The tea rooms decor is Asian-inspired, infused with the iconic pastels of the brand and utterly peaceful. I suggest their Marie Antoinette tea with a Rose Religieuse pastry.