All semester, my friend Emma and I have been performing a very thorough research on Salons de Thé, Tea Rooms, in Paris. This basically means that we spend long hours drinking tea and munching scones all over Paris. We then evaluate them on a very rigorous scale grading based on tea quality, scone quality, atmosphere, price, and “extra factors.” We visited many tea rooms, ignoring the biggest ones like Ladurée and Angelina’s, and trying to find ones further off the beaten path. Also, our criterion for serious consideration was the presence of scones, without which we found it hard to like an establishment. Only two are on our list that do not have scones, and they had other extraordinary factors.
Les Nuits des Thés, 22 rue de Beaune, 75007: Tucked behind the Musée D’Orsay, Les Nuits des Thés is run by a mother daughter team and reflects this feminine control, from the floral decor to the soft lighting and china teacups. We didn’t particularly like the teapots, but other than that, the scones were good, prices reasonable, and we loved the cute atmosphere and witty name.
Mamie Gâteaux, 66 rue Cherche-Midi, 75006: While the simple white walls, wood floors, and sparse decoration might seem to austere in winter, but in when we visited in spring we found it airy and refreshing. The scones were delicious, the tea good, and we loved the colorful bowls that hang around the top of the room.
Bread and Roses, 7 rue de Fleurus, 75006: Even though we know we were paying too much for our tea and scones, even though we knew that we didn’t really belong with the casually chic moms of the 6th arrondissement out for a brunch break from their strenuous lives, we still loved this warm yet modern tea room just around the corner from the Luxembourg gardens.
Honorable Mention . . .
Mariage Frères, 32 rue de Bourg-Tibourg, 75004: Despite being one of the bigger names in the Paris tea scene, we still decided that the plantation like atmosphere, extensive tea menu, huge scones, and perfect style of the tea room at the Mariage Frères Boutique deserved a visit.
A Priori Thé, 35-37 Galerie Vivienne, 75002: Delicious scones with a slight citrus taste, and a cozy inner room or you can have a cup of tea in the sun-roofed gallery.
The Tea Caddy, 14 rue Saint-Julien le Pauvre, 75005: Probably the coziest of all the tea rooms we visited, but we were a little bothered that the scones came already done up with cream and jam, thus denying us spreading rights. Probably the most British of all the ones on Paris.
And two that didn’t have scones but were still so delightful . . .
Verlet, 256 rue St-Honoré, 75001: No scones, but delicious cakes, and a wonderful atmosphere with a calm sitting room upstairs. They specialize in coffee so you are surrounded by the delicious perfume of fragrant coffee beans.
Musée de La Vie Romantique, 16 rue Chaptal, 75009: Only open during the warmer months, the Musée de la Vie Romantique serves tea and cakes in the lovely garden surrounded by rosebushes and shady trees.
And if you decide you want to go all out . . .
The Ritz Hotel, 15 Place Vendôme, 75001: True, this isn’t exactly were you (or at least where we) just stop in for a cup of tea and chat with a friend, but if you want to make an afternoon out of tea time, then high tea at the Ritz is truly stunning. We split one high tea for two, and still had enough miniature sandwiches, perfect teacakes, and perfectly flavored Jasmine tea to go around.
In the children’s book The Wind in the Willows, a character issues the invitation to “Come inside . . .We’ll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place.” I doubt they actually change the course or state of the universe, but I have found these past months that taking a pause every other week to enjoy a cup of tea and a scone with a dear friend have ameliorated my own little world indeed.