Hi Frugalistas! My most recent trip to Paris was very brief. Just an overnight stay, before the train down to Nice to the wonderful Liguria townhouse I featured in an earlier post. That meant just one proper meal in Paris. So, of course, I wanted to make it special. When my Paris friend U told me the Hotel Ritz Paris had reopened, choosing my special meal in Paris was easy. While Paris afternoon tea may not be a traditional meal to have in Paris, it had to be the Ritz Paris afternoon tea served in the oh, so elegant Hotel Ritz Salon Proust.
Booking the Ritz Paris Afternoon Tea
Booking afternoon tea at the Ritz is very, very easy. Just head to the Ritz Hotel website and find the teatime button in the dining section. The Salon Proust is open from 2.30pm to 6pm, with the last afternoon tea booking available at 5pm. There is a copy of the menu on line so you can check out your Ritz Paris high tea options and prices prior to booking.
Arriving at the Hotel le Ritz Paris
For reasons I won’t go into, I arrived a quite early for our booking, and still had my suitcase with me. After wandering around the Place Vendome enjoying the afternoon sunshine and the fancy jewellers for a bit, I decided to see if I could wait inside. Not only was I welcome to sit inside, I was invited to check my suitcase with the doorman, and have a seat in the main hallway.
The Hotel Ritz Paris may look quite intimidating and you may feel intimidated about going in, but really, there is no need to. Every member of staff who saw me while I waited for U greeted me very warmly. Take photos? No problem. A group of American tourists came in and when they were asked if they needed assistance by a member of staff, indicated they had only come in to have a look around. “Please, come in, and enjoy looking around” they were told. It was almost as if the staff were anxious to show off their lovely new hotel to anyone who wanted to look.
Settling down to the Ritz Hotel Paris afternoon tea
With U’s arrival we headed down the hall to the Salon Proust. I knew exactly where to go – I’d had multiple members of staff direct me, and I’d found the Salon during a little wander around I had while I was waiting.
One of the charming young waitresses greeted us warmly, checked our reservation and seated us on a rather luxurious sofa and chair combo. We were in a perfect spot to admire the room, watch all the coming and goings, but still sit quietly.
The Salon Proust is designed to be like a library, and that is just what it feels like. Tables are well spaced, so noise from other tables is kept to a minimum. At 4pm early in the week, the Salon Proust was less than half full, with only 6 tables occupied. And three waitresses. It was luxurious, but relaxed, and very comfortable.
We had greeted our waitress and spoken French to her initially, but after she heard us speaking English to each other she swapped over to English – a little idiosyncratic with vocabulary, but smiling and such a pretty accent. The waitresses were all dressed in navy blue, Art Deco-inspired dresses. Professional, but still terribly cute.
The Salon Proust Afternoon Tea Menu
The Ritz Hotel tea is quite straightforward. You can either have the Hotel Ritz Paris Afternoon Tea, or the Hotel Ritz Paris Champagne Afternoon Tea. Afternoon tea comes with your choice of tea or coffee. Champagne afternoon tea is afternoon tea served with champagne as well as tea or coffee. But like the best afternoon teas, no matter where it is served, it’s not quite that easy. The tea menu is vast. After an age of studying and debating, U and I go quite traditional: two Champagne afternoon teas, with Earl Grey tea for U and Darjeeling for me. There’s no choice of Champagne – the Ritz “house” Rothschild Champagne is what is offered.
With drinks served, we were eagerly awaiting our food. We could see it all laid out prettily on the table right next to where we were seated. But even so, our first dish comes as a complete surprise. Rather than the traditional 3-tiered stand our waitress brings us two tiny cups, each with a madeleine inside. Setting the cups down, we are given a (very short) history of the association between Proust and the madeleine (for those not up with their French Literature, Marcel Proust was a French novelist. He wrote incredibly long, detailed books. In one of his books, he wrote a whole page describing a madeleine – the little lemon flavoured cake which is a classic of French cuisine). As she told us the story, the waitress poured warm milk into the cup. We were invited to leave the milk for a minute to let the flavour of the madeleine infuse into the milk. When we taste……sublime. Delicately lemon flavoured warm milk, and a light, tasty little madeleine. We are off to a good start.
If our first dish was unexpected, our second one is a complete surprise. No, there’s still no 3-tiered cake stand. Instead, we were brought bowls of peach flavoured ice-cream. We were brought a crumbly nut mix, crème anglaise, stewed peaches and raspberry coulis on a separate plate. Our task? We get to make our own peach melbas. And very, very good they were too.
This high tea at the Ritz Paris is definitely unlike one I’ve ever experienced. But when do we get our 3-tiered cake stand?
Finally it arrives. And U and I take a deep breath and look at each other in shocked amazement as the waitress explains its contents. The stand is completely full to over flowing. And it’s all sweet. No little sandwiches, no savoury tarts. Instead, it’s petits fours, little gateaux, tarts, biscuits and tuiles. And there are no scones with jam and cream either.
We decide there was no way we were going to eat all of this, so we planned our attack accordingly. We went for what looked best and left the plainer looking choices.
Fortunately no one seemed to be in a hurry for us to finish our tea, so we could sit, savour and take our time. We relaxed even more when we spy all the French customers taking their left overs home in special little Hotel Ritz cardboard lunchboxes. Phew, the pressure was off……..!
Finally we reached the point where we both decided we just couldn’t eat any more. It was also getting to closing time in the Salon. But, of course, that was no problem. By the time we asked for our bill, paid, and got our little goody bags to take home it was close to 6.20pm. We were sent on our way, full, happy and with smiling waves of good bye from the staff.
frugal first class travel tip:
The loo is located further down the hallway to the right. Even if you don’t need to use it, you need to go. It is the most luxurious bathroom you will probably ever visit. Right down to the gold taps, with the swan’s head water outlet…………..
Is the Ritz the best afternoon tea in Paris?
While it may not be a traditional thing to do, afternoon tea in Paris can still be a very French affair. After I had my afternoon tea at Le Meurice, I thought it was the probably the best afternoon tea in Paris, but now after experiencing afternoon tea at the Ritz Paris, I’m not so sure. The atmosphere at the Ritz in Paris is relaxed, friendly and intimate. The service is refreshingly and surprisingly perhaps, charming and welcoming. Despite the opulent surroundings, I think visitors may find the Ritz less intimidating than Le Meurice. When it comes to food, I think Le Meurice’s afternoon tea menu is definitely better balanced, and certainly a more traditional afternoon tea than the Ritz afternoon tea menu. But everything we ate during our Ritz afternoon tea was delicious, and the way it was served was unexpected and fun. Our little doggy bags were greatly appreciated – I enjoyed mine on the train down to Nice.
So, how much is afternoon tea at the Ritz? Afternoon tea at le Hotel Ritz in Paris is not a cheap afternoon tea, with the Afternoon Tea coming in at EUR65 and the Champagne Afternoon Tea at the Ritz is a definitely pricey EUR85. But I still think it represents good value for money. The food is lovely, the location is unbeatable and the service and welcome we received was very special.
Even if you live on baguette and tap water the next day (along with your doggy bag), I say, yes, book a Ritz Hotel high tea on your next trip.
Not long after I arrived home, U contacted me to ask when I was coming to Paris next. Her reason? The Hotel Crillon has also reopened, and is another Paris hotel that serves afternoon tea………….It appears where to have the best high tea in Paris may have just got even harder.
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Author’s note: We paid for our own afternoon tea at Le Ritz Paris. Prices are correct as at February 2018.