One thing with having company on this trip was… well you may have noticed the delay between blog updates… not finding a space to write up the day’s activities. So apologies for the delay in letting you know what happened on the day after we arrived in Paris.
This trip to Paris was a gift for my niece to celebrate her 18th birthday and one aspect of my planning, inevitably, was to find somewhere for an afternoon tea.
I did some reading and discovered that while it is indeed perfectly possible to have an afternoon tea, actually… there is another possibility: a more French option is Le Teatime and this involves hot chocolate and copious amounts of cake, dependent on where you go…
Some places offer a hot drink with a slice of cake or a pastry. Others offer more generous servings. You can imagine where my leanings were.
But before we headed off to sample this delight, we needed to work up and appetite and our first visit of the day was a Metro ride away over at Parc Citreon, yes, that Citreon.
In 1915, Citroën built its factory on the banks of the Seine where it operated until the 1970’s when it closed and the site, a fairly hefty space of 59 acres, was vacated. A space that size in the centre of Paris was not going to remain empty though it was 1992 before the park opened.
Once being incorporated into the Paris urban plan, the park was designed at the beginning of the 1990s by the French landscape designers Gilles Clement and Alain Provost along with architects Patrick Berger, Jean-Francois Jodry and Jean-Paul Viguier.
As well as being a lovely space, especially on such a sunny day our other reason for visiting the park was this:
Rather than take the lift or climb the stairs of the Eiffel Tower,we thought that a leisurely ride in a balloon would be more our style. This was a superb plan but it turned out to be more of a cunning plan, a la Baldrick, because we hadn’t checked the balloon website, which would have informed us that it was too windy to fly.
The Park isn’t too far from another landmark or two so over the course of the morning, we visited:
and of course…
After a brief stop for lunch nearby and the forgiveness of a waiter at my mangling of the French language…
…we headed to the Musee d’Orsay. I had previously visited the Louvre on another visit to Paris and considered going again on this trip. We didn’t. The Louvre is a fabulous art gallery, if you know what you want to see. If you’re only going to see the Mona Lisa, it seems a little pointless to spend several hours in there if you only have a weekend visit.
The Musee d’Orsay, by comparison, offers a a mere taste of what you could see in the Louvre but there is plenty and varied to see. It’s home to the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in the world but, in my view, even better than that… the museum was once the Gare d’Orsay which was built between 1898 and 1900 and the rail terminus for trains coming in from Southwestern France until 1939. From this point it served the Parisian suburban lines.
This stunning building’s future looked bleak in 1970 when approval for demolition was granted. Other than the refusal to build a hotel on what would have been the vacant site, it’s unclear how the former station survived the next few years. It was put on the supplementary list of Historic Monuments and finally listed in 1978.
At the same time, the proposal and plans to turn it into a museum were being developed but it wasn’t until 1986 that it received its first exhibits.
After a wander through and a very long wait to be served at a bar in the Tuileries Gardens, we finally headed off to sample Le Teatime at Le Grand Véfour. The write up sounded good:
Since May 2021, this historical Parisian institution at the Palais Royal also serves a delectable teatime between 3-5pm. Step into Le Grand Véfour’s 200-year history and be transported by the sumptuous surroundings followed by a stroll in the Palais Royal gardens. Chef Guy Martin’s pastry chef conjures up a teatime package (le plateau Teatime) on Fridays and Saturdays with seven seasonal treats along with a hot drink.Le Grand Véfour
Would the actual experience be as good?
Besides two men seated a table by the window, we were the only guests in a room that seemed to have retained its original decoration. The waiter quickly found out booking, led us to our table and took our drinks order.
The waiter brought the tray and plates…
My niece wondered how we were going to eat this. I told her: “Oh, we’ll manage”.
We had been presented with: a plate containing a slice of egg custard (though I suspect it has a much more elegant French name) and a slice of cake; while the tiered tray held two stuffed cookies, decorated with caramel; lemon meringue tarts; madeleines; biscoff waffles; brioches filled with blackberry jam and pineapple savarins.
My usual afternoon tea review involves taking the reader through each of the trays: sandwiches, scones and cakes.
I’ll just go with a few high points this time, though to be fair, the baseline was ‘amazing’.
The hot chocolate was delicious – creamy, chocolatey and better still, arrived with refills that remained hot until we were ready to drink them.
My niece was keen that we ranked them but we didn’t agree on the placings. For example, I thought the pineapple savarin was fab, once I’d disassembled the biscuit layers so I didn’t have to dislocate my jaw but she wasn’t impressed by the contrasting sharpness of the pineapple with the fresh mint cream (with chopped leaves in it) that filled the two biscuit layers.
We both agreed that the chocolate chip and caramel sauce was something to savour and I was pleasantly surprised by the lemon meringue tart. Yes, I had done my usual thing of making it the first thing I ate from the tray because I thought it would be my least favourite. (As it was, that honour went to the jam filled brioche, but that doesnt mean it wasnt good).
The biscoff waffles were beautiful and the egg custard was delicious – no soggy pastry would be tolerated here. The custard was creamy and lightly flavoured with nutmeg and vanilla. It was perfect.
At €31 per person, Le Teatime was excellent value. The cakes and pastries were varied, a mix of taditional (madeleine) and modern (stuffed cookie) and there was no reliance (or monotony) on only one flavour to do the heavy lifting.
And it did make a change from a traditional afternoon tea. It was also incredibly filling and we didnt east again until breakfast the next morning. Hopefully, more on that more quickly than the time it has taken me to write and upload this post.