Hi Frugalistas! A Paris afternoon tea is one of my favorite things to do in Paris – I love tea time in Paris. And based on the feedback and comments in my France Travel Planning Facebook group (you can join here if you aren’t a member), I’m not the only one. On my recent trip I decided I needed another tea time in Paris. Based on a group member’s recommendation I decided the Hotel Bristol afternoon tea would be the one.
Tea time in Paris – booking the Hotel Bristol afternoon tea
I always book my afternoon tea in Paris, because high tea in Paris is a surprisingly popular thing to do in Paris. At the Hotel Le Bristol it is essential. The Hotel Le Bristol welcomes guests for Paris tea every day but it must be booked in advance.
The Hotel Bristol afternoon tea was not as simple as other Paris afternoon teas I have booked, but proved to be quite straightforward in the end. Rather than have an online reservation system to book Le Bristol afternoon tea you email them with your booking requirements and then they confirm with you via return email. Although it seemed a bit cumbersome, it was surprisingly efficient.
Experiencing the Hotel Bristol afternoon tea
I arrived for my afternoon tea Bristol booking and found Café Antonia quite easily. Although it was called a café, it was more like a lounge with a range of seating. It was only around a third full, despite it being a public holiday in France on the day I visited. My booking was checked and confirmed and I was invited to sit either inside or outside on the terrace. As it was a sunny Paris afternoon I elected to sit outside. Tables were very widely spaced and had umbrellas up to shade them. It was charming and private, and had a very luxurious feel.
As part of the booking process for the Bristol afternoon tea I had been asked to confirm which afternoon tea option I wanted, so the only questions to ask were what type of tea (Darjeeling as always) and whether I wanted blancs de blancs or rosé Champagne (I went for the rosé).
A generous teapot and a coupe of Champagne (Louis Roederer) arrived promptly. The other diners on the terrace were a mixture of couples and family groups, many of whom were also enjoying afternoon tea at Le Bristol.
The arrival of the 3 tiered cake stand is always a moment of great importance at a fancy afternoon tea, and it was no exception at Le Bristol. Mine arrived with a flourish and the waitress explained all the items – four different sandwiches, and three different viennoiseries. My scones would arrive later so they could be served warm……
Starting from the bottom, the sandwiches were four classic afternoon tea favorites – chicken, smoked salmon, egg and cucumber, served with different breads. Not terribly imaginative, but let’s face it, who goes for afternoon tea for a sandwich? The sandwiches tasted delicious, but unfortunately the bread seemed a little on the stale side if I was not mistaken.
Next up, the viennoiseries, where there was no question of anything being stale and everything was simply stunning…..
A dark chocolate éclair was quite rich but was not overly sweet due to the excellent choice of dark chocolate and addition of cocoa nibs. The round entremet was complex and fascinating to eat – a pistachio sablé base, pistachio cream and apricot jam filling, surrounded by vanilla mousse and a rose sauce. Every layer had a perfect flavour and all together they literally sang. Definitely one of the best Paris cakes I have ever eaten.
To finish off the cake stand, a strawberry topped cake was sublime. Lush, sweet, soft strawberries that almost tasted perfumed.
After a little break from eating, and a new pot of tea, my scone arrived. One (large) scone and a canelé. Those of us who grew up eating English style scones always find French scones a bit different and these were no exception. They are always quite crisp on the outside and more like a bread inside. But I must say, the Le Bristol scone was very, very good. Served just nicely warm, with a generous serve of clotted cream to die for and a choice of jams, I thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful. The canelé was also slightly warm and was tasty and delicious.
I’d finished eating, but still had a little Champagne left, and the breeze had got a little cool. I also wanted to continue to my “research” so I asked if I could go inside to finish my Champagne. Of course, this was met with an “avec plaisir” and I was shown back inside and offered a choice of seats.
It was lovely to sit inside and see other people enjoying cups of coffee or tea and in some cases a late lunch. It was such a wonderful space to enjoy that I even ordered a second glass of Champagne…..
Tea time in Paris: Hotel Bristol afternoon tea final thoughts
I very much enjoyed my Bristol Hotel afternoon tea. The service was exceptional at all times – and requests for everything were uniformly acknowledged by “avec plaisir” (with pleasure). It did genuinely seem as though the staff were really doing everything with pleasure.
The setting – both on the Le Bristol terrace and inside in the Café Antonia, was charming, quiet and luxurious. But I can’t say Le Bristol has the best high tea in Paris of those I’ve tried – while the sweet options were truly delicious, the sandwiches were boring and I hate to say it, but the bread did not seem completely fresh on the day I visited.
On balance, I do think the Le Meurice afternoon tea is a better all round experience, but afternoon tea on the terrace at Le Bristol is certainly better than the afternoon tea of the Paris Ritz terrace. Having said that, if it’s exceptional service and a charming, cosy atmosphere Le Bristol afternoon champagne tea is the hidden gem you need to know about. Tea time in Paris just became an even trickier choice.
You can find out more about afternoon tea at the Bristol Hotel here.