After a climate-controlled morning spent with Monet’s water lilies at l’Orangerie, a short, gravelly walk across the Tuileries was all it took to get to Angelina; the legendary tea room located at 226 rue de Rivoli. I questioned the logic of queuing to have a hot cocoa on a day where the temperature was hovering above 22° C, but I reject so many popular things that I didn’t want to short-change myself again.
After waiting for the procession ahead of me to be seated, I was properly able to take in the loveliness of Angelina. Founded in 1903 Angelina (sans apostrophe ‘s’) is an elegant restaurant of the Belle Epoque with sconces gleaming gold amid its murals and floor-to-ceiling mirrors.
My aim was the house specialty – a Chocolat Africain and the Mont Blanc dessert. The Chocolat Africain was the thickest hot chocolate I’ve every had the pleasure of meeting. Deliciously deep and dark, it stayed true to its reputation of being almost thick enough to stand one’s spoon in it. A secret blend of cocoa from Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, it was created just for Angelina.
Then to scale Mont Blanc; a base camp of meringue and crème Chantilly blanketed with pureed chestnut vermicelli. The Mont Blanc has been a signature recipe of the tearoom since 1903. I love both meringue and the flavor of chestnut, so I was in dessert heaven. The combination was almost too much to bear! So rich, I had to force myself to finish it. Quelle dommage!
Angelina has a gorgeous pastry shop too, where many were lining up for other heaven-sent confections instead of lining up for tea and chocolate. Sunday afternoons, Angelina is a conveyor-belt of the curious, but the tearoom retained its dignity. The cocoa and the pastry cost 17.40 € – steep, but I enjoyed the Mont-Blanc. I was glad have conquered it and Angelina.
I strolled, sugar-fuelled, through the arcades of the rue de Rivoli and bridged the Seine to the Île Saint–Louis. Despite the Sunday crush of people, I aimed for Berthillon – Paris’s temple of ice cream. Berthillon Glacier’s flagship store is located on the smaller of the city’s two islands where the scene was mad with people lining up zombie-fashion for ice cream. On this warm autumn day all the other vendors on the island were selling their much-sought-after “ices” too and hosted lines at least 20 deep. At Berthillon’s headquarters at 31 rue Saint Louis-en-l’Île, I counted over 40 in the queue. MUST-HAVE-ICE-CREAM! Maybe because I’m a cat who walks by herself, but I find it somewhat undignified to have to line up for treats. I had done it once that day at Angelina and enough was enough. I gave Berthillon a pass, wandering instead into a mustardy-yellow candy shop.
La Cure Gourmande is an old fashioned sweet shop also on rue rue Saint Louis-en-l’Île. I’d been beckoned inside with a promise of something strawberryish. After browsing amid the pyramids of rainbow-bright bonbons, I came out with an assortment of nougat and boiled candies called Berlandises, each with a surprising fruit burst at their centre. I intended on saving them for my friends at home but after sorting out my day’s purchases like pirate booty on my hotel bed, I ate them all, one by one.
For dessert I had the Toblerone from the hotel mini-bar.
Lead photo credit : Le Cure Gourmande