Paris Travel Tales
Chapter 3: Tea for Two
Samantha and my goal for this trip is to discover amazing cafes, bars and restaurants. We always seem to hang out at the same places. I, especially, like to visit the places in the Marais where I lived over and over again. I realized that on this trip I needed to expand my horizons. Here's two places to check out for tea.
La Fourmi Ailée
If you're in the Latin Quarter, and need a break from the crowds, this tea salon is the place for you. The brilliant blue exterior stands out and beckons you inside.
When I entered La Fourmi AilÈe, I literally gasped. The smell of spices was overwhelming. It reminded me of my grandmother's kitchen when she baked home made apple pie. Delicious!
"Samantha, what is that smell? Is that apple pie?"
"I think its just the tea."
We sat in the large, yellow booths and ordered from the menu that looks like a newspaper under twinkling Christmas lights and a cloud painted ceiling. Bookcases lined the walls and the room was lit with lanterns. Unlike many Paris cafes, the booths were large with breathing room. Students from the nearby Sorbonne were stretched out with papers and books on the tables, studying. This place is too cute and cozy. The tea list is extensive and reasonably priced. The upstairs contains a glass-ceilinged atrium. Perfect for lounging on a sunny day.
We each ordered a cheese plate for 5 euros and tea for 4.5 euros. Well worth it.
Address: 8 rue du Fouarre 75005 PARIS
Reservation : 01 43 29 40 99
Hotel Plaza Athénée
We revisited Avenue Montaigne, designers row, where the couture houses, such as Chanel, Gucci, Dior are located. I hadn't been here for years. I like looking at couture as much as the next girl, but there is no way I am buying it. Not with the dismal dollar sinking daily against the euro. Samantha tries on some Jimmy Choo shoes and decides to pass. We stroll along, licking the windows, and try to walk around the masses of tour groups, craning their necks into stores, while the guide shouts, "move along, move along". Bizarre. A shopping tour with no time to shop.
After navigating around one large group, we are blocked in front of the Hotel Plaza AthÈnÈe. I gasp. I forgot just how stunning the outside of this hotel is with the red roses cascading outside of the elegant window boxes on the outside. I look at Samantha, and our eyes meet. We strut into the hotel like we belong there. The six doorman shooting the breeze jump to attention, holding doors open for us, and inquiring about our day. I love five star hotels.
Since the bar is not open yet, we sit in the Galerie des Gobelins lounge overlooking the courtyard. We luxuriate in the plush arm chairs in surroundings fit for a king...or queen. Suddenly, two of the wait staff zoom over to our table. Oh no. What major faux pas did we do? Instead, they picked up my beat up, black leather tote bag off of the floor and placed it on an elegant, gray leather ottoman. "Wow", I think, "Pretty classy".
Samantha orders a pitcher of tea, which is presented in a complete silver tea service for 9 euros. A large intricately carved silver teapot, and tiny silver accessories that I've never seen before. I order the specialty of the house. A Rose Royale cocktail made of champagne with a touch of fresh squeezed raspberries. Perfection. Pricey (27 euros), but worth it.
A waiter is pushing a silver sterling tray around containing petite fours that you can select from. On the menu, the price is 12 euros for eight. You could have tea here and a snack for around 20 euros. Not bad for a break in such a striking setting. Its like having tea at Versailles.
And, the people watching here is fantastic, If you are male. I noticed about a dozen tall, thin women in the Paris uniform of black boots, black tights, short skirts with legs longer than may entire body. Most of the women were in twos and looked strikingly alike. Definitely models. Also, sisters? On a closer look, one of the set was much older than the other. Mother, daughter runway model convention? Who knows?
Samantha does not meet her goal of drinking the entire pot of tea before we leave. Instead, we wonder over to the bar, but its closed for a private party. Bummer. I always get a kick of looking at the computerized menu that shows pictures of what the drinks look like, and ordering the famous jello shots. One of the few places in the world where you can "eat-a drink-that-looks-like-a-work-of-art".
When we get outside after basking for a few hours in true elegance, I turn to Samantha.
"Wasn't it cool the way they whisked my bag on top of that ottoman? I wonder why they did that."
Samantha smirks, "Honey, did you notice that lady sitting beside us? She was carrying a Hermes Birken. Do you think you are going to put your $10,000 purse on the floor?"
Address: 25 avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 53 67 66 65
Author: Cheryl Montgomery