While I’m more of a coffee lover than a tea person, the winter season in the capital demands a little extra dose of coziness. Once or twice a year, I fork over some funds for an elaborate and relaxed afternoon tea in Paris, enlisting a friend or two to join me.
Admittedly, Paris hasn’t mastered the art of teatime in the way that, say, London has. In the French rival city, for one, it’s somewhat unusual to find teas that include both sweet and savory things to eat– something I love about a properly English afternoon indulgence.
Another thing: In too many cafés and bars in France, tea simply isn’t served as it *should* be. Water is often not properly boiled, leaving you with a bag that anemically steeps and produces little more than vaguely-flavored warm water.
I’ve often been annoyed after ordering a 4- or 5-Euro cup of tea, only to be served a bag that’s been sitting in a drawer somewhere and getting stale. Owing to these irritating experiences, I rarely spring for tea in Paris. And I don’t generally recommend ordering it from any old corner café.
But enough with the negatives. Let me now turn your attention to places around the city that serve wonderful afternoon teas, accompanied (or not) with pastries, sandwiches and other goodies. Of course, you can hit up many of these in the morning, too.
1. Mariage Frères
For a genuinely French tea that focuses as much on delicate, marvelously flavored cuppas as it does on pretty-presentation-and-pastries, Mariage Frères earns top ranking in my book. The iconic brand was formally launched in the mid-19th century, but its roots stretch back to the 17th century and the height of French colonial expansion.
Since opening its first tearooms in Paris, it’s been a favored spot for locals to stop in for a little warmth and luxury. They offer a full range of menus suited to all appetites and moments, from tea on its lonesome to afternoon delights including sandwiches and pastries, brunch and lunch.
Choose from an astounding 600 varieties of tea– black, white, green, matcha, rooibus or red– you name it. Their “Parisian scones” laced with juicy raisins and “French muffins” flavored with tangy red berries are especially delicious.
Read related: The Best Crepes and Creperies in Paris
They also offer finger sandwiches, savory tarts, and a mouthwatering selection of pastries and cakes for dessert. I recommend coming on a chilly or rainy afternoon after a morning of exploring the old streets, fine museums and trendy boutiques in the Marais. You may also want to buy some tea to bring home from the gorgeous onsite shop.
- Address: 30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg, 4th arrondissement
- Tel: +33(0) 1 42 72 28 11
- Metro: Hôtel de Ville or St-Paul
- Visit the website to see the full menu
2. Le Loir Dans la Théière
Also situated in the Marais on the Rue des Rosiers, this is a local favorite for delicious afternoon tea accompanied by homemade cakes and tarts. Inspired by the dormouse in Alice in Wonderland, Le Loir dans la Théière offers a wide variety of high-quality teas brewed to perfection. The slightly bohemian vibe reflects the now ultra-posh Marais’ former status as an “arty” neighborhood– this place has been open since 1996– and makes me nostalgic for a time when the area wasn’t quite so dominated by the luxury industry.
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Service is continuous, from 9:00 am to 7:30 pm every day, so if you’re peckish or simply after a treat you can order whatever you wish from the menu, even between typical meal times. There’s savory sandwiches and tarts, salads, pastries and other sweet delights on offer here.
I recommend coming here for tea and cake after sampling some delicious falafel from one of the best purveyors on Rue des Rosiers. See my full guide to the best street food in Paris for more. Be forewarned, though: on weekends this place is incredibly packed and popular, and they don’t take reservations.
- Address: 3 rue des Rosiers, 4th arrondissement
- Tel: +33(0) 1 42 72 90 61
- Metro: St-Paul
- Visit the website
3. La Mosquée de Paris
Heading southward across the Seine and to the left bank, my third pick for wonderful tea in gorgeous surroundings is the salon de thé at the Grand Mosquée de Paris (Grand Mosque), nestled near Place Monge and the Jardin des Plantes in the Latin Quarter.
Built in 1920, the Mosque harbors a steamroom (hammam) as well as an ornate tearoom designed in a typical Moroccan style. Here, bask in colorful mosaics, elaborate moldings, graceful lamps and a warmth that’ll make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a secret portal from Paris to Marrakesh. Often, small birds can be seen flying around in the enormous tearoom (watch out for your cakes) and plenty of light filters through the large windows there.
Enjoy a cup of steaming Moroccan mint tea, steeped with fresh, aromatic leaves and delicately infused with sugar. There’s also a medley of delicious North-African and Middle-Eastern pastries to nibble, from baklava to little cakes made with almonds or pistachios.
- Address: 2 bis Place du Puits de l’Ermite, 5th arrondissement
- Tel: +33(0) 1 45 35 97 33
- Metro: Place Monge
I’d be remiss not to mention Ladurée on this list, simply because their afternoon (or anytime) teas are, well, beautifully presented and delicious. If you have a sweet tooth, this one’s certainly for you: sample the house’s world-famous macarons alongside a cup of steaming tea, some of which are signature blends.
Scones, cakes, tarts and a dizzying variety of gorgeous French pastries are available alongside your hot “cuppa”, and the tearooms themselves usher you straight back to a lost Belle-Epoque Paris. I wouldn’t hesitate to bring back a box of macarons or pastries in one of the house’s iconic pastel boxes, either. Don’t worry about looking like a typical tourist: Sometimes things are popular for very good reason.
Read related: The 10 Best Things to Do in Paris For First-Timers
Ladurée has several locations in Paris. I recommend the tearooms on Rue Royale and the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. See this page at the official website for directions and details.
5. Betjeman & Barton
Lesser-known than Mariage Freres, Betjeman & Barton is nevertheless another older French tea manufacturer associated with quality and savoir-faire. First opened in 1919, the company has a handsome standalone shop on Boulevard Malesherbes in west Paris, where you can purchase one of their hundreds of varieties of tea, sourced from around the world.
But it’s their new “tea bar” in the 11th arrondissement, next to the brightly colored old building known as the Cirque d’Hiver, that’s gotten tea aficionados excited. Bright, modern interior design meets tradition at this stylish new joint: bright, Scandinavian-style wood floors are juxtaposed with Baroque-style armchairs.
It may not feel quite as opulent as some of the other tearooms where tourists tend to flock, but it feels much more incorporated into the fabric of daily Parisian life. A welcome addition to the neighborhood, to say the least. Fans of tea paraphernalia (pots and other accessories) will love browsing the shelves here. You may even want to buy one to take home.
- Address: 24 boulevard des filles du Calvaire, 11th arrondissement
- Tel: +33(0) 1 48 05 07 36
- Metro: Filles de Calvaire
- Visit the official website
Other Top-Rate Afternoon Teas in Paris
For something a bit more indulgent, you can also head for afternoon tea at places like the Ritz, Le Meurice Hotel and the Bristol– all luxury hotels with tearooms reputed to be superb. In addition, the Twinings Tearoom on Rue de Rivoli (at WH Smith Books) is currently touted as the spot to beeline to if you’re in the mood for a traditional English-style afternoon tea.
I haven’t tried these myself, so am not yet equipped to recommend them here. But many other travel guides, including Time Out Paris, rate their afternoon tea offerings as top-notch.
Go on a Gourmet Adventure: Tours I Recommend
These days, it’s not hard to join an excellent food tour in the capital, and it can be a fantastic way to scope out new places in the capital and expand your gourmet palate in a non-intimidating way. I especially love the Eating Europe Paris tour for its focus on both tradition and exciting new treats. Enter the promocode PARISUNLOCKED at checkout for a full 10% off this tour when you book.
I also highly recommend the Marais Paris Food Tour from The Paris Guy. Champagne, falafel, crepes, delicious cheeses and a sit-down French dinner to top it all off: this is an excellent introduction to all the Marais has to offer. Make sure to enter the promocode “PARISUNLOCKED” when you check out to get 5% off the listed price for this tour and any others on the site (Book here now).