My Favorite European Salon de Thé (Tea)

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I have an all-time favorite Salon de Thé (see September 12 blog, A European Tea Adventure).  No doubt, Angelina remains on the top of my list.  Explaining why isn’t so straightforward.  I really wanted to love Ladurée, another well-known tea room.  I had dreamed of enjoying a cup of tea and a pastry there for so long.  Don’t get me wrong, it proved a nice experience and the brew was excellent.  However, it just couldn’t compare to the Belle Époque café. The staff seemed friendlier at Angelina, the prices lower, and the cheerful ambience just couldn’t be beat.  And, after all, there is just something about being in Paris.  The other tea rooms in Italy and Switzerland didn’t stand a chance.

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To be honest, Angelina had an advantage.  I’d spent many a fall afternoon there twenty years before, savoring all of their delights.  montblancsizedA favorite among Parisians, the 100 plus year-old establishment greets guests like an old friend.  The café is best known for its thick African hot  chocolate and its Le Mont-Blanc, a scrumptious pastry made with meringue and chestnut cream.  For the first time visitor, I’d recommend either or.  In other words, don’t try to combine the hot chocolate and Mont-Blanc at once.  Go for Le Mont-Blanc and a cup of their signature tea.  Not a tea lover?  Sample the decadent hot chocolate.  Then come back the next day to experience a different confection.  If it’s a meal you’re after, anything on the menu will do.  Their salads, omelets, and sandwiches are all delicious, as is the bread and butter you’ll be served.

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The mercury had risen to a beastly hot temperature.  We’d spent the morning at the Louvre, just down the street.  I needed a boost and could think of nothing better than a visit to Angelina.  The café did not disappoint.  Little had changed since my last visit, except their china and the size of the crowd.  We had to wait in line, outside, for the first time—I’m guessing the price of being there in summer.  It was worth it!

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I grappled over which sweet to choose and went with an incredible creation called the Désirée—a combination of raspberry custard, cream puff, cookie, and I don’t know what.   It proved one of the best pastries I’ve ever had and the perfect accompaniment to my cup of tea.  I’m not ashamed to admit my eyes rolled back in my head and my lashes fluttered with each bite!

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Did I mention the salon’s beautiful decor?  The interior transports the customer to another time.  I can’t imagine a trip to Paris without a stop at Angelina.  I was thrilled to discover that it still charmed and refreshed guests, just as it did twenty years ago.

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Everyone seemed happy as they sipped their tea, chocolate, or coffee and indulged in a meal or dessert, and the mood proved catchy.  Families gathered at larger tables, engaging in pleasant conversation.  A grandfather bounced a baby on his knee, while a toddler strolled from chair to chair, smiling at aunts, uncles, and strangers.  A couple to my right, probably newlyweds, doted on each other while sharing their sweets.  My husband held my hand.

Our lovely waitress cheerfully chatted, encouraged, and served us.  She added to the fantastic, lively atmosphere.  I could have sat there for the rest of the day, blissfully observing the clientele and drinking cup after cup.

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There are fancier places to have tea and those more of the moment.  If I have to give one reason why Angelina is my favorite spot, it would be because the place is just so happy.   That’s right.  It’s a happy place, one of my happy places.

So, when you’re lucky enough to be in Paris, visit the Louvre or the Musée de l’Orangerie.  When your feet get tired and your eyes weaken, enjoy a stroll down the Rue de Rivoli, past posh shops and tony hotels.  Or, take a route through the Tuileries.  Just be sure you end up at 226 so you can experience what Parisians have enjoyed for over 100 years!  You can check out Angelina’s delightful web page and video here:  http://www.angelina-paris.fr/fr/

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COPYRIGHT 2016. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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