Angelina’s vs. Nina’s: A tourist’s review

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Okay, so I suppose it’s not fully accurate to call myself a “tourist.” After all, I did live in Paris for three months. And hey, a girl’s gotta have her tea regardless of what city she’s in, am I right?

With a hankering for a true Parisian “Salon du thé” experience, I had the chance to visit two of the world’s most famous tea houses, Angelina’s and Nina’s Paris. I took to Pinterest for research.

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What I found was that these two run rank high in the top searches for tea salons in Paris. And both with at least a century of establishment if not more. Both carry different claims to fame: Angelina’s for its hot chocolate (chocolat chaud) and Nina’s as the tea appointment to none other than Marie Antoinette herself.

They were both were exquisite in every way, from the service to the decor to the tea and delicacies. And they were both worthy of a second visit.

Tea at Angelina Paris

This one is definitely the more trendy and bustling of the two by design. Angelina’s has been serving patrons in its large tea room since 1903. It’s location on the infamous Rue de Rivoli directly across from the Louvre’s Tuileries Gardens makes it a prime spot for tourists. You enter the shop where you can purchase loads of treats including macarons, crème de marrons (buckeye cream), and hot chocolate to go. Mmm…my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

The shop leads into the dining room. You sit down at one of the marble-topped tables and suddenly feel very regal. Ornate moulding surrounds the wall-sized mirrors which seem to expand the large space even more. They also have a smaller room in the back for overflow.

The queue is typically out the door, but you can make reservations ahead of time. The first visit, we stood in a line which moved fairly quickly. We booked our second visit online.

If you plan to arrive at 3 p.m. (15h00 in Paris time), you can partake in Angelina’s Tea Time, but you can not order this menu item prior to that time. The Tea Time at 20€ (or about 24 U.S. dollars) includes a selection of savory hors-d’oeuvres, a selection of sweets, and your choice of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.

The hot chocolate (chocolat chaud) is what this tea salon is most famous for; old-fashioned “l’Africain,” to be exact. And it is utterly decadent. Thick, rich, and creamy, a true melted bar chocolate with heavy cream and sugar. However, it is also utterly pricey at almost nine Euros a pop. We ended up splitting one between the four of us because we had to try it. Totally worth it.

Nina’s Marie-Antoinette Tea Paris
Nina's Tea Paris
Photo by Paris Histoire, 2013, via Wikimedia Commons

Nina’s, by contrast, was quite a different experience, but still just as lovely. This tea room got its start in 1672 as a distillery using ingredients from the very gardens of Versailles.

This one is located behind Rue de Rivoli on a back street near Place de Vendôme. It’s so tucked away, you would not know it was there unless you were looking for it.

Nina’s is quite a bit smaller than Angelina’s, but also very cozy. the furniture is elegant, but comfortable, as if you were sitting in a brightly-lit living room.

NIna's Tea and Cakes
Photo by Lauren Lyons, 2017, via iPhone

The menu only has a few offerings: a variety of choices of the famous tea itself and the Marie-Antoinette cake. The woman who runs the shop is friendly and sweet. And if she likes you, you may even leave with a few samples.

Angelina's Teapot
Photo by Sarah Elum, 2017, via iPhone

If you happen to be in Paris this holiday season be sure to include both of these Parisian charms to your list.

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