For a proper Parisian breakfast, there is no place to go but the Angelina tearoom. No matter how long your stay, set aside one morning to stroll along the famous rue de Rivoli in the First, the sky freshly lit and not quite bright. Stop in front of the Angelina windows to gaze desirously at displays of daintily crafted confections, but instead of taking big bites of what looks like a croissant and washing them down with coffee out of a paper cup, queue outside; you’ll soon be nibbling on mini croissants and pains au chocolat fait à maison and sipping signature Angelina hot chocolate, so divine that once you’ve tasted it, no other hot chocolate will ever compare!
Angelina is to breakfast what Laduree is to tea and macarons the color of powder puffs. Sumptuous but less posh than Laduree, it’s a place where refinement meets modernity, breathing sophistication as one can only find in cosmopolitan Paris. Founded in 1903 and fashioned in the style of the contemporaneous Belle Époque, the tearoom in fact comprises two rooms, but it’s the front one in which you want to sit. Lavish embellishments trim walls colored chiffon, lace, and pearl and decorated with golden frames and landscape paintings, while mirrors give the illusion that the room is twice its size. As you engage in lively chatter with family and friends, it’s possible to imagine that you are at the same moment listening intimately to the conversations of the writers and designers, including Coco Chanel, who favored it over a century ago!
Go starving and order the Angelina breakfast. First you’ll be served the renowned hot chocolate, so rich it fills you up before you’ve eaten anything and served with a pot of whipped cream. With this you can choose a juice (I ordered the lemon, which turned out to be incredibly tart but yummy; it tasted like pure lemon juice, crushed ice, and water). To eat you’ll be given an assortment of viennoiseries and bread with butter, apricot jam, and honey, arranged on a silver tiered serving tray, along with a cup of delicious fresh fruits (pineapple, mango, kiwi, melon) and eggs prepared as you like (I ordered them soft-boiled and they were delicious!).
Though the incomparable hot chocolate and extravagant quantity of food might leave you feeling intoxicated, don’t forget to stop in the boutique on your way out! The case of pâtisseries to your left holds creations classic (such as the Choc africain, a dark chocolate mousse cake with notes of the same spices in the hot chocolate and covered in satiny chocolate cream) and seasonal; my favorite in this year’s fall and winter collection was the Flore, an amorous red, rose-shaped treat made of meringue, raspberry jam, and vanilla white chocolate mousse. Like any salon de thé, Angelina also sells macarons, including an Earl Grey flavor, which has flecks of tea leaves baked into the cookies! For products that will last longer, choose from chocolate bars and tea in boxes colored like springtime (I’ve been eyeing the linden and mint in pistachio) that line the shelves on the wall.