Two of the most glamorous palace hotels offer the chicest way of indulging in Parisian pastries and the most elegant teas—perfect for fueling up during a stay in the City of Lights. Oh, and there’s Champagne and chocolate, too.
Teatime treats in the gracious splendor of the Hotel Plaza Athenée and Le Meurice Paris are so popular it’s essential to make a reservation. Guests arrive at the appointed hour and the table is set with exquisite silver trays and pedestals with tiers of chocolate lollipops and cakes, millefeuilles and fruit tarts, chocolate mousse and marshmallows.
At these two hotels, among the swooping silk curtains, velvet banquettes, and dramatic white tablecloths, afternoon tea is orchestrated like a concert, or theater. Superbly groomed wait staff turn tea into a delightful (and delicious) entertainment.
Hotel Plaza Athénée
At La Galerie within the ultra-luxe Hôtel Plaza Athénée, elegant new creations of executive pastry chef Angelo Musa play the starring role.
Musa, a winner of the World Pastry Cup and the Best Craftsman of France award, and Alexandre Dufeu, pastry chef at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée, have created a new afternoon tea that is sublime, and tells Musa’s life story through sweet treats.
Among the menu offerings are Musa’s raspberry/coconut lollipops covered by a dark chocolate shell and presented on a towering silver cake stand. Musa’s fashionable creations for pâtisserie are a combination of “simple” products and harmonious textures with pure raw materials of top quality.
The marshmallow roll with pâte de fruits conveys a more modern image of confectionery. The vanilla lemon merveille, tart and sweet, consists of a sphere of vanilla cream enveloping a light citrus meringue with a lemon confit centre. It’s Musa’s perfect example of a marriage of textures and successful flavors.
Alongside the nine sweet creations presented with the classic tea, Musa serves up a trio of “100%”—the confection that brought him to the Hôtel Plaza Athénée. It was after tasting this chic and superbly balanced creation that Alain Ducasse contacted Musa to join the Plaza hotel’s creative team.
This “100%” stylish confection combines biscuit, crémeux, and mousse and comes in three different versions: pistachio, coffee, or caramel. The pretty pastries look as fashionable as the Dior garments paraded through La Galerie, worn by guests en route to the next runway show.
Le Meurice Paris
Le Meurice Paris, situated on the chicest block of rue de Rivoli and overlooking the Tuileries, has always been a hotel destination for both its ultra-private bar as well as dining at Le Dali restaurant, which was recently and dramatically updated by Philippe Starck. The classic architecture is still handsome, and Starck’s new teardrop lighting and surreal silver chairs send a jolt of energy through the space.
Now the hotel’s star pastry chef, Cédric Grolet, and his prize-winning team give Parisian sugar confections and cakes a rock ‘n’ roll style. His chocolate ganache-filled glazed fruits are hyper-real. Even the swirling meringue-topped apple tart looks tantalizingly intricate. No wonder his fans book a table weeks ahead.
Grolet dreamed up a fantasy afternoon tea at Le Meurice complete with selections of Mariage Freres fragrant teas in ornate silver teapots and a selection of Champagnes. The iconic creations for which Grolet is best known include his highly original trompe l’oeil sculpted fruits, in addition to updated traditional French desserts such as St. Honoré cake, pistachio Paris-Brest, and lemon and chocolate éclairs.
And for those sugar-lovers in the know who simply can’t wait for afternoon tea, there’s a new secret spot to discover. Le Maurice and Grolet recently opened a chic pastry shop just around the corner from Le Meurice at 6 Rue de Castiglione. The boutique opens at noon, and Grolet’s signature cakes and sculpted fruits can be purchased along with freshly baked madeleines, cookies, and Bundt cakes. Sweet treats are displayed like precious jewels under glass. There’s always a queue outside, so get there early because once the pastries and Grolet’s famous Rubik’s Cube cakes are sold, he closes.
The sleek design of the pastry shop is itself worth the trip. Le Meurice and Grolet worked with the French architects’ collective Ciguë, to design a daring concept that breathes new life into French patisseries. The creative team stepped into Grolet’s world and for several weeks observed and worked at Le Meurice’s pastry laboratory in order to capture the chef’s spirit. The materials they chose—enameled lava, waxed brass, Hainaut Blue Stone, and blown glass lighting—bring an ultra-modern touch to the space. It’s the sensation of Paris… for the décor as well as the sugar rush. How sweet it is.