Mysteriously, Montparnasse, that ever-vibrant quarter full of legendary cafés, bars and brasseries, has not been a destination for tea. Now with the very welcome arrival of the charming Chez Charlotte salon du thé in the hip Hotel des Academies et des Arts, locals and visitors can pop in off the busy boulevards and settle in to comfortable couches to savor selected macarons from macaron-master Pierre Hermé and loose-leaf teas from Palais des Thés. This is a savvy minimalist pairing. No less a master chef than Fernand Adria has declared Pierre Hermé’s macarons to be “perfection”. Palais des Thés is known for sourcing quality teas from growers that are environmentally sensitive.
The selection of macarons changes daily and always marries nicely with the dozen Palais des Thés pure and blended teas on offer. Evocative blends include Thé des Moines, Thé du Tigre and Fleur de Geisha and there are also pure Darjeelings. Currently Chez Charlotte is suggesting drinking a first flush Darjeeling with bitter chocolate macarons. This is the only Paris salon du thé where you can enjoy Pierre Hermés macarons and the eight Euro for a divine assortment is reasonable. During my visit the selection included mint, chocolate fig, bitter orange with passion fruit cream and chocolate saffron. They were delectable with a pot of Thé des Moines.
Chez Charlotte offers three quite different areas for your l’heure du thé, the first a lounge with embracing sofas and chairs, a large fireplace and lots of appealing art books to thumb through. There is also a darkly intimate bar area and a very modern ‘videotheque’ space.
The beautifully designed twenty room hotel has an arty vibe and a great back-story. Carefully designed and renovated over a three-year period by contemporary art-lovers Laurent and Charlotte Inchanspé, the hotel opened in a location on rue de la Grand Chaumiere across the street from a venerable Parisian college for fine arts, sculpture and painting. The hotel is decorated throughout with the iconic spectral human forms of painter Jérome Mesnager and with sculptures from Charlotte Inchanspé’s mother’s atelier.
Decades ago, the street was home to another Chez Charlotte, a beloved café next door to the current address, that catered to art students, professors and neighborhood residents. Often artists would pay their bills with paintings or other works of art. Today, Euros are required.
Tél: 01 43 26 66 44
Open daily 2:30 to 6 p.m.
Sally Peabody is a Paris specialist and writer who thinks Paris is the finest source for the best teas from around the world. Please click on her name to read more at her profile page.
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