Destination: France: Paris
See also La Chocolaterie de Jacques Genin for a sweet stop in the Marais.
Just as a Nespresso cafe has recently opened on the Champs-Elysees, causing a stir among espresso snobs, so there is now a new tea temple for purists. 1T, which is on the Rue Scribe near the Boulevard Capucines, so a perfect shopping break for those hitting les grands magasins. 1T has raised the bar for serious tea lovers. You can buy lots of rare Chinese varieties buy the ounce or sit and order tea and pastries. The upstairs library is particularly pleasant.
Open daily for lunch, tea and light supper until 8:30 p.m.
At this beloved institution, generations of families have come for sweets and countless grandmothers have tested their descendants’ table manners in its dining room (which was completely overhauled in 2009 and has rediscovered its former grandeur). It’s Paris’ most famous tea salon and a great place for a light lunch before or after shopping or the Louvre. Some consider it to have the best hot chocolate in the world, others find that even diluting it with the hot water and warm milk, with which it is served, doesn’t keep it from tasting too rich. Open daily (8 a.m. to 7 p.m). Métro: Tuileries.
The fabled Parisian ice cream shop still lives up to its reputation for making the city’s most delicious sweet treats. The flavorful ice cream (and sorbet), ranging from classics like pistachio to more adventurous concoctions, like licorice and salted caramel, is sold at other venues on the Ile St.-Louis and around town, but it’s worth making the pilgrimage to the original branch.
Art lovers should have breakfast or afternoon tea at this chic hideaway, in an auction house right off the Champs-Élysées. You don’t come for culinary genius (the menu includes perfectly acceptable salads, sandwiches and pastries) but the room is beautiful, with a skylight, lots of potted plants and wall murals. Plus, it’s a fashionable and arty local scene. Closed Sunday.
Café de Flore
The Flore’s a terrific spot for a coffee and a Cognac after dinner, because despite its popularity with tourists, this historic St.-Germain café still attracts an intriguing crowd of locals, including French celebrities. Open daily. Métro: St.-Germain-des-Près.
In the courtyard of the Louvre with a view of I.M. Pei’s pyramid, this café has a great terrace for lunch or dinner in the summer. Nice menu, but what you really come for is the view and the only-in-Paris crowd. Open daily (8 a.m. to 2 a.m.). Métro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre.
This famous tea salon (the original branch is at Place du Trocadéro) opened on Place des Vosges in 2010 and as expected it’s a madhouse, especially on weekends. I think that it is only worth swallowing the steep prices if you come early enough to score a table in the arcade overlooking the beautiful square.
Flottes And Go
Just next door to the family-run bistro, Chez Flottes, is a great take-away shop where you can buy sandwiches, salads and snacks, which are perfect for a picnic in the nearby Tuileries Gardens. Open daily from 9am to 8pm.
This gelato maker now competes with Berthillon for title of favorite ice cream maker in Paris. His trademark is serving ice cream cones with scoops in the shape of roses. Among the special homemade flavors are: green tea, lemon tart and rose petal. Open daily noon to midnight.
Also run by Yves Camdeborde who owns the wildly successful—and still very good— Comptoir du Relais St. Germain next door, this is a stamp-sized hot spot for aperitifs and nibbles. There are no seats, just a counter where Parisians and plugged-in visitors crowd around to sample jambon, sauccison and small-plate dishes all washed down with whatever strikes the chef’s fancy that day. The place is so small that dishes are written on menu cards that are suspended from the ceiling, so it’s not a restaurant where you will linger. Up front, two crèpe pans are in overdrive, preparing gourmet crèpes sucrés (banana, chocolate, fresh fruit) and salé (Camembert, mushroom, artichoke). A great spot to come for take-away before heading to the Jardin du Luxembourg for a picnic.
La Petite Place
Tucked away on quiet Rue du Parc Royal and with modern interiors and a nice wait staff, La Petite Place is open all day, making it equally great for an early breakfast as for a late afternoon tea. Down the street from the Musée Carnavalet and Musée Picasso, La Petite Place is a good option for a light lunch if you’re touring and shopping in the Marais or Haut Marais. Open daily.
This classic tea salon—the original is on the Rue Royale opened in 1862—has expanded with two newer outposts on the Champs-Elysées and the Rue Bonaparte. Though less recently renovated, even a bit faded, I find something particularly appealing about its original spot, where for years the owner presided over the seating, and often banished non-regulars upstairs to the less desirable tables. The location on the Champs-Elysées, with pretty turn-of-the-century interiors, is the largest but queues form even there on Sunday afternoons when a coffee and macaroon are the sweetest way to spend an hour. Their macaroons, which have crunchy outer disks and meltingly soft interiors, are known as among the best around the world, but they also serve very good omelets and frites.
Les 110 de Taillevent
As the name implies, an incredible 110 wines are available by the glass at the newly opened Les 110 de Taillevent (not to mention the 330 bottles from France and around the globe on display behind the bar that can be ordered by the bottle.) A seat at the handsome bar insures an informed conversation with the sommelier, who will gladly help you navigate the extensive carte des vins. Taste something you like? Just a few doors down chic Rue Faubourg Saint Honoré is Les Caves de Taillevent, which boasts some 300,000 bottles (including everything served at Les 110.)
INDAGARE TIP: No time to linger at the bar? Les Caves de Taillevent also hosts weekly tastings. The themed degustations are held every Saturday between 10am and 5pm, or you can even organize a private tasting—in the boutique or at a location of your choosing—for a group of 5-20 people.
Merce and the Muse
Those needing a caffeine and/or sweet fix while shopping in the Haut Marais should head to this funky café. Yes, it feels a less destination-specific than, say, Ladurée but that’s not what it’s trying to be. Rather, with mismatched vintage furniture and a groovy music mix playing, Merce and the Muse is the kind of neighborhood place you are thrilled to discover early in your trip and return to several times throughout your stay.
This UK transplant has established itself as a major player in the Haut Marais transformation. Some grumble that it feels more Anglophone than French, but I could not find fault with its menu of organic healthy salads, sandwiches and brunch items (except perhaps the somewhat elevated prices). It’s a good place for a pit-stop while shopping in this fun area.
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