Journey Woman

Her Paris Tearooms
tea for one...

Karen Burns is a Journeywoman who calls Washington, USA home. This lucky woman also lives part of every year--the three lovely months of spring--in France. She is currently working on a guide to the tearooms of Paris and has agreed to share her expertise with us. Karen writes...

Alone in Paris? Lucky you! Paris is a fabulous city for exploring on your own. Being a Journeywoman you're probably okay with dining solo. However, after four or five days the thought of another multi-course, calorie-laden French meal might not appeal to you. Or, maybe you're just looking for an inexpensive lunch served at an odd time of the day. Let me introduce you to some of my favorite tearooms of Paris.

Last time I counted there were one hundred and thirty-six salons de th� in Paris. They range from the famous spots filled with lunching ladies-who-shop to tiny unknown little gems on empty side streets. At most of them, you can find salads, quiches, pasta, fish and meat dishes, as well as soups, with prices ranging from 50 to 100 francs. Add dessert (and tea, of course) and it's a great little meal.

Latin Quarter offers fab desserts...

L'Heure Gourmande, 22, passage Dauphine, 6th Arrondissement
In the heart of the Latin Quarter, a quiet pedestrian passage runs from the lively rue Dauphine west to rue Mazarine. To find it, head south on the rue Dauphine from the Pont Neuf and keep an eye out for a tall iron gate on your right. Step through (it's always open during the day) and mid-passage there's L'Heure Gourmande, an elegant sanctuary with gold-washed walls and a lofty ceiling painted blue and white like the summer sky. What a lovely place for lunch! Try one of the five quiches, a generous salad, or an assiette chaude (hot plate) served between noon and 3:00 p.m. What kind of hot plate? Well, there's the Mezzaluna (mushroom-stuffed ravioli with cream sauce), the Frileux (chopped steak with cheese sauce and scalloped potatoes), and for vegetarians there's the Jardin (a large plate of steamed vegetables). Main dishes run from 48 to 109 francs and they leave room for dessert--cheesecake, chocolate tart, fruit crumble, or ice cream (not just any ice cream, but the famous Berthillon brand--well worth the calories!).

Walk down rue St-Jacques...

Le Th� des Brumes, 340, rue Saint-Jacques, 5th Arrondissement
Wander far enough south on the rue Saint-Jacques (this is the historic pilgrimage route that once led all the way to Spain) and you'll find Le Th� des Brumes, a cozy one-room establishment with flickering candles on every table. Lunch is served all afternoon till 6:00 p.m. If it's a cold day you'll appreciate a gratin, a hot fish, meat or vegetable casserole topped with cheese and breadcrumbs. Or there are salads, quiche, or ravioli. Prices are lower here (36 to 58 francs), perhaps reflecting the out-of-the-way neighbourhood. The desserts are worth the walk, though. All are made by the owner from recipes contributed by her mother and friends.

Near Notre Dame...

The Tea Caddy 14, rue Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, 5th Arrondissement
Mahogany-paneled walls, beamed ceilings, brick fireplace, mullioned windows -- The Tea Caddy hasn't changed since it was founded in 1928 by a Miss Kinkelin, English governess to the Citro�n family. When she retired, the Citro�ns gave her this small house near Notre Dame where she lived on the upper floors and turned the ground level into an English-style tearoom. This is where you should go when you're homesick for scrambled eggs and bacon, cinnamon toast, or apple pie. Of course, you are still in Paris, so you can also get poached eggs with spinach and mornay sauce, salad ni�oise, and croque monsieur sandwiches. Prices range from 25 francs for a sandwich to 55 francs for a salmon, spinach and mushroom quiche. Sit by a window and you can look out onto the Square Viviani, a lovely small park where the oldest tree in Paris still grows.

More terrific Paris tearooms...

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