Paris tea, by Barbara Redmond

Barbara Redmond

By Flore der Agopian

Many (sometimes hidden) museums in and around Paris are located near major streets full of cafés where people relax after touring an exhibit or permanent collection. Because of this proximity, many magnificently restored private mansions and small museums do not feel the need to install a tearoom or café. Yet, a few museums do offer an intimate setting for lunch and afternoon tea, and are wonderful for their charm and quiet discovery.

One of the most enchanting tearooms is the Café du Musée de la Vie Romantique which stands at the foot of Montmartre hill in the ninth arrondissement at 16, rue Chaptal. Sitting among the dozen tables in the courtyard shaded by the branches of mature trees, it’s like taking a step into the past to discover a nineteenth-century atmosphere, in the center of Paris. As soon as you go through the gate, you feel you are no longer in Paris, but in a beautiful mansion in the countryside. The garden is entirely green with wonderful trees and flowering beds that you enjoy while eating quiche, sandwiches and pastries. It is difficult to imagine, in fact, that Place Pigalle, a colorful tourist district, is right next to the museum. This 1830 hotel particular facing two twin studios, a greenhouse, and a small garden, displays much remembrance and personal effects of the romantic character and writer George Sands and the romantic life of Paris in the ninth arrondissement. Secluded and silent, it’s perfect for those who want to forget for a few minutes the rush of the capital.

Recently, I visited Musée Jacquemart-André with my grandmother to tour the exhibition “Eugène Boudin,” a retrospective of paintings, pastels and watercolors by this pioneer of Impressionism. After exploring the collection of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and other works of art in the rooms decorated and furnished in late nineteenth-century style, we finally sat for teatime in the lovely Café Jacquemart-André. The café terrace overlooks a beautiful garden and is ideal for sitting outdoors in the summer. Because of the sun and heat, we chose to stay indoors, yet I still felt transported, again, to another time. The dining room itself was, like the entire museum, historic and precious. Enormous tapestries of the Enlightenment covered the high walls. The furniture dates from the time of Louis XV and that period is still felt in the tearoom. I cannot speak, however, about the room and not the food. As we were there in the afternoon for snack time, I choose sweet rather than savory items from the menu. I ordered a slice of mille-feuille (also known as the Napoleon)—layers of puff pastry laced with vanilla custard cream and glazed with icing—and lemonade, which was very refreshing. Next to our table, a couple ordered amazing-looking savory tarts. If I am not wrong, one tart was with salmon and spinach, and the other, bacon. Seeing them made me want to try the pies. I know that I will return to the museum, mainly for the café. After a walk on the Champs-Élysées, the nearby Café Jacquemart-André is just a great way to enrich a visit to Paris.

A little further away from Paris, but with the same inspiration, is the restaurant La Flottille, in the garden of the Château de Versailles in front of the Grand Canal. I found this restaurant on a sunny Sunday afternoon walk in the gardens Parc du Château de Versailles. Overlooking the pool, it is a delight to be soaked in the atmosphere of Versailles, even if, of course, the restaurant was not built in the time of Louis XIV. When the weather is beautiful, it is wonderful to sit on the terrace outside and admire the view. When I went, I sat inside the restaurant which has been renovated to its original 1900s style, and not at the brasserie, which is outside. I ate typically French: a faux-filet with sauce Béarnaise, and for dessert a Tarte Tatin, an upside-down tart of apples caramelized in butter and sugar during baking with vanilla ice cream. The restaurant serves all hours of the day. La Flottille is a very nice place for tea when you visit the castle and the gardens of Versailles.

There are many other tearooms, which are equally exceptional. My next discovery will be Café le jardin du Petit Palais and the decorated ceiling of the garden portico. Paris and its surroundings always have more to show, and we always have more to discover.

Museum tearooms, cafés and restaurants in Paris

Musée de la Vie Romantique

Café du Musée de la Vie Romantique
The seasonal tearoom, located in the museum’s garden, is a beautiful haven of peace and solitude open from March to October. It’s like taking a step into the past to discover a nineteenth-century atmosphere, in the center of Paris. A respite for a delicious snack. Location: 16, rue Chaptal, 9r.

Musée Jacquemart-André

Café Jacquemart-André
The café is located in the mansion’s former dining room where you can sample a wide range of delicious light meals and pastries. The café terrace overlooks a beautiful garden and is ideal for sitting outdoors in the summer. Location: 158, blvd Haussmann, 8r.

Parc du Château de Versailles

La Flottille
Renovated in 1995, la Flotille has been restored to its original 1900s style. Four spaces welcome visitors throughout the year for lunch. The Brasserie is open until the park closes. La Flotille serves a select menu of traditional French cuisine. Location: Château de Versailles, Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles (Château de Versailles)

Musée d’Orsay

Restaurant du Musée d’Orsay
The former restaurant of the Hôtel d’Orsay, on the first floor of the museum, is part of the original 1900 railroad station. The dining room’s surroundings are dazzling with chandeliers and the painted and gilded ceilings, listed as a Historic Monument. Offering traditional French cuisine, interspersed with original dishes that are linked to the museum’s current events. Location: 5, quai Anatole, 7r.

Café de l’Ours
At the far end of the Nave, at the foot of the Seine Tower, is the Café de l’Ours offering salads and sandwiches, ice creams, cakes and pastries. Location: 5, quai Anatole, 7r.

Le Café Campana
The café, designed by the Campana brothers, is a tribute to Art Nouveau: dream-like and inspirational. Offering a classic menu of Parisian brasserie. Location: 5, quai Anatole, 7r.

Musée du Louvre

Cafés & Restaurants
There are 15 cafés, restaurants and take-away outlets located throughout the Louvre, and the Carrousel and Tuileries gardens. Location: Musée du Louvre, 75058.

Le Café Grand Louvre
The Grand Louvre is situated in the main lobby of the Louvre, beneath the glass pyramid and offers traditional French cuisine—the perfect setting for a selection of original dishes: a multiple-choice menu of two or three courses.

Le Café Marly
Café Marly is a bustling, trendy brasserie offering a stunning view of the Louvre pyramid from its outdoor terrace under the arcades. Located in the Louvre’s Richelieu wing, it was designed in the Second Empire style by Olivier Gagnère. Elegant dishes and original flavors.

Le Café Richelieu / Angelina
Located on the second floor of the Richelieu wing, it is a good place for gourmet treats courtesy of Paris’ Angelina. On terraces overlooking the Cour Napoléon and the Pyramid, Cafe Richelieu provides a magnificent setting.

Le Café Mollien
The café is located inside the Louvre on the second floor of the Denon wing, overlooking the galleries of French painting. The café’s terrace overlooks the Cour Napoléon and the Carrousel garden. A perfect place for lunch or a snack.

Café Denon
Enter through the Roman Egypt gallery to this small vaulted room opening onto a little garden to enjoy sandwiches, snacks and pastries.

Le Comptoir du Louvre
The café, located beneath the Pyramid, offers a selection of Paul sandwiches, salads and pastries.

Musée du Quai Branly

Le restaurant “Les Ombres”
This domed restaurant, located on the terrace of the museum with its scattered ponds, was designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel and offers unforgettable views of the Seine and Eiffel Tower. The restaurant offers a three-course lunch menu. Location: 27, quai Branly, 7r.

Le Café Branly
Located on the ground floor, it is bright and modern—also designed by Jean Nouvel with an outdoor terrace facing the garden. Location: 27, quai Branly, 7r

Les Arts Décoratifs

Le Saut du Loup
Sleek black, white and gray, this contemporary upstairs dining room and bar is located at the heart of the museum between the Fashion, Advertising and Decorative Arts collections and creates an atmosphere of discreet luxury. The cuisine combines great classics with creativity and simplicity. The patio terrace offers a beautiful view of the Louvre and Eiffel Tower. Location: 107, rue de Rivoli, 1er.

Le Grand Palais

Minipalais Restaurant
Located next to the Champs-Élsyées, the imperial columns make it distinguishable at first sight. The ambiance is exquisite for indoor dining with a glimpse at the Nave of the Grand Palais. The imperial columns edge the terrace with palm trees laid-out to complete the atmosphere. Offering French cuisine and a lovely wine selection. In addition is a bar and lounge. Location: 21, Ave Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 8r.

Petit Palais / Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris

Le Jardin du Petit Palais
A spacious café in the heart of the museum opens to an enclosed garden of pools bordered by mosaic, colonnades, and exotic plants. Dine in a quiet and charming atmosphere. A simple menu is offered for lunches and gourmet breaks. Location: Art Museum Ave Winston Churchill, 8r.

Au Palais de Tokyo

The Tokyo Eat
Tokyo Eat is a pleasurable experience offering main courses of inventive cuisine in its beautiful surroundings. Location: 13, Ave du Président Wilson, 16r.

Flore der Agopian crop portraitFlore der Agopian was born in Clamart, a southwest suburb of Paris, where she grew up and lives today. She is in the final years of terminale, which is equivalent to the senior year of high school in the U.S., where she is preparing for her Baccalauréat at the Lycée Françoise Rabelais de Meudon. If accepted into the language program, Flore will study history, literature, and the culture of anglophone societies and will hopefully study abroad in the U.S. or Germany.

You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, Café Culture in Paris, by Parisienne Flore der Agopian. The café, writes Flore, is a pleasurable way of sitting unbothered for hours on end with a book, with friends, or jut watching all sorts of people coming and going. Le Café de Flore, one of the oldest and most prestigious in Paris, where you can meet or observe its famous clientele among the Parisians, tourists and waiters dressed in their black and white uniforms as if they were still in the 1920s. To Flore, Café de Flore is almost mythical, legendary—a real institution. 

Indulge at Le Meurice Hôtel, Paris, by Parisian Eva Izsak-Niimura who shares how to achieve a bit of luxury at Le Meurice Hôtel, Paris for afternoon tea or evening cocktails, when “constraint” is a word more in vogue than “indulgence.” 

A Parisienne’s Guide to the City of Love on Valentine’s Day, by Frenchwoman Flore der Agopian who writes about the French love of chocolates—always the most appreciated gesture, as many of the greatest chocolatiers are found on the streets of Paris. Including chocoalte specialities you’ll love and where to find them, and Flore’s family recipe for chocolate cake. (French)

Paris macaron, love in the afternoon, by Barbara Redmond who tells about the French women who vanished into the streets of Paris and later exited Pierre Hermé, an elegant confectionary, clutching little cellophane bags of macarons, a little ‘Le goûter’ (afternoon treat). But, Frenchwomen do not snack… or do they? Paris locations included for Pierre Hermé and Ladurée, beloved for their Parisian macarons. 

A Paris walk in a French garden, by Canadian writer Philippa Campsie who writes about her experiences in the famous Jardin des Tuileries. Philippa also delves into the history and importance of garden design in France. Including French to English vocabulary translations of gardening terms.


Text copyright ©2013 Flore der Agopian. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.