Tea is considered a British thing. But tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world, 1000 billion (is that a trillion?) cups a year!
And tea time is the best example of British « art de vivre ». Since the French thrive on « art de vivre » they too have found a love for tea and tea time. Things have changed since the 1980s when my landlady Mme Cahierre made one pot of tea per week, left the single tea bag in it all week and simply diluted and warmed a tiny bit of her brew with hot water each day. Tea consumption has tripled in France in the last 20 years, but it is still small 230g per person per year compared to the British 2.3kg per person. Just look at these lovely spots for tea in Paris.
Some of our favorite places for tea in Paris (and beyond)
Imagined as a family home where you just drop in, like a house where you set down your bags and stay as long as you want. A place to spend time reading, writing and telling our lives. A place to find ephemeral teas, craft accessories from the other side of the world. A place to cocoon, enjoy tea, lunch or nibble homemade pastries or savory dishes and have brunch. Arnaud Bachelin, plant archaeologist by training turned tea specialist has recently opened Thé-ritoires which by the name alone seem to encompass the man and his two focuses of plants and earth (territory) and ritual of tea. His mother is British, and he has spent some time in London thus the dark green walls and tartan plaid furniture of the tea house. His botanist grandfather raised him in the Morvan region with his fingers in the earth. Both influences had him sipping tea. Arnaud also believes, rightly that tea is not just British, but in fact from all over the world and comes in nearly every color. His shop demonstrates that with teas and antiques from 4 continents. He travels to select teas directly from gardens with sustainable agricultural methods. The tea he sells, both loose and prepared in earthenware then served in a dainty cup, changes with the seasons. He’s even written a book called L’heure de véri-thé. Arnaud and his helper Cody (from the land of iced tea) also have FUSAC’s publication LOOFE on hand for you.
5 Rue de Condé, 75006 Paris https://www.theritoires.com/
The Tea Room at WH Smith has been rebaptized in 2021 the Smith & Son Café. The whole shop for that matter has been rebaptized Smith & Son and was just renovated as was their website but tradition and spirit continues in the shop and upstairs in the tea room with the best cream tea in Paris, scones and other wonderfully British goodies every afternoon. Smith & Son is also a place to pick up FUSAC’s publication LOOFE.
Smith & Son 248, rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris https://www.smithandson.com/
L’OisiveThé and La Bien Aimée are owned by Aimée (no surprise there!). One is a tea house and yarn shop and the other is a yarn boutique and dye studio. L’OisiveThé, named by an ironic play on words with the French word oisiveté which means idleness – there are no idle hands here, opened 10 years ago, is the City of Light’s first café tricot. This cozy Parisian tea house and yarn shop is located in the Butte aux Cailles located in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. 70 types of teas: green red, black, lunch and brunch with homemade cakes. Looking for special French yarns that you can’t get anywhere else, come and see what La Bien Aimée has to offer you. Their yarns are hand dyed on site in all kinds of patterns and solids.
L’OisiveThé, 8 bis, rue de la Butte aux Cailles 75013 Paris – La Bien Aimée, 89, avenue d’Italie 75013 Paris https://www.loisivethe.com/en/
Chez Alice in St Germain en Laye is tucked into a cosy side street, not far from the castle where Henri II, Charles IX and Louis XIV were born you’ll find Chez Alice. Everything here is white and gold including Alice herself. Alice is a gem, sweet and kind, and appreciates meeting new people. She knows everyone has an inner « pépite d’or » and hopes to bring it out. Her tea room is convivial and serene with classical and jazz music, old stone, beams and toile de Jouy wallpaper. She even has gold silverware. Alice also loves to cook, especially to bake and try new recipes. She and her mom make everything right there in their tiny kitchen and can serve you lunch, brunch or tea (30 choices from the Compagnie Colonial). Plus Alice’s father is a wine aficionado and thus Alice has some choice wines to serve by the glass. Chez Alice has been charming Sangermainois and visitors for over 10 years. Chez Alice is also a place to pick up FUSAC’s publication LOOFE.
http://chezalice-salondethe.com/ – 10 rue des Vieilles Boucheries, 78100, Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Personnali-Thé in Versailles We discovered this charming tea room and personal development bookshop in Versailles. Elizabeth is an enthusiastic and perky owner who has combined her two passions into a business. Check out Elizabeth’s tearoom when you visit Versailles, it’s not far from the chateau and is in a lovely historic building.
https://www.personnalithe.fr/ 29 Rue du Vieux Versailles, 78000 Versailles
THE GUIMET MUSEUM – The Asian Arts Museum devotes a space to the delicate art of making tea in the purest Japanese tradition. The museum’s tea ceremonies are held in the heart of the Japanese garden, in a pavilion made by the best Japanese artists and carpenters. They offer a delicate moment to taste one of the most refined aspects of the art of living of Japan; they also help to understand the importance that the Japanese attach to communion with nature and the quality of person-to-person relationships. 6 Place d’Iéna, 75116 Paris
THE JAPANESE CULTURAL CENTER – This building, which pays tribute to the Land of the Rising Sun, presents a different version of the tea ceremony: unlike the most traditional schools, tea is prepared and savored sitting on a chair, facing a table. However, despite these Western-style rooms and its very modern structure, the space perfectly restores the calm and exotic atmosphere of Japan. The tea ceremonies are held periodically and you must reserve in advance. 101 Bis Quai Branly, 75015 Paris.
THE ALBERT KAHN MUSEUM – This museum, which should be reopening after extensive renovation sometime soon (the garden is already open), houses the Planetary Archive of photographs taken during the missions funded by Albert Kahn in more than 60 countries. This exceptional collection of black and white films and the world’s first collection of autochromes (true color photographs on glass plates) include portraits, scenes of life, architecture …. The Archives of the planet represent a unique photographic and cinematographic testimony of the everyday life of the inhabitants of the world at the beginning of the 20th century and is well worth a visit. In addition the museum has four hectares of lovely gardens with seven different themes and often hosts tea ceremonies in the Japanese pavillon. 10-14, rue du Port, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt, M° Pont de Saint-Cloud