Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
Visiting the Mariage Frères teashop is like traveling through time: when you enter the famous salon de thé tucked into a small street of the Marais (or one of the other five spots in Paris), you immediately get a feeling of stepping back. Behind the oak bar huge black tea tins line the wall. The wooden floor creaks under the weight of time, for a moment the palm trees make you dream of being in a tearoom in India. Waiters and sales assistants are all dressed in a signature white linen suit.
Did you get the message? Of course you do: welcome back to the colonial times when France and Britain where proud empires ruling the world.
Mariage Frères has a long history indeed. The tea party started in 1660 when Nicolas Mariage, who was part of a deputation dispatched by King Louis XIV, made several voyages to Persia, the East Indies and the Mogul Empire. Meanwhile his brother Pierre travelled to the island of Madagascar. A century later, Jean-François Mariage was still trading in tea, spices and other colonial goods in Lille. The family never stopped and in 1854 – when Charles Baudelaire walked the streets of Paris – Henri and Edouard Mariage finally founded the Mariage Frères Company.
Today Mariage Frères is one of the best addresses in Paris for buying exquisite tea. You have the choice of 600 high quality teas grown in more than 30 different countries. It needs a lifetime to taste them all. The number of Earl Grey teas alone is just dizzying. Try their famous house blends like Earl Grey Impérial. Or follow “Newsweek” magazine, that once wrote: “for the best of all Darjeeling you must make a pilgrimage to Mariage Frères in Paris”. Once there, you’ll have a choice out of 64 different ones.
Too hard to make a choice? Why don’t you just have a cup in the salon de thé just behind the shop? In general, the waiters are eager to share their knowledge. The tea is always prepared perfectly. They respect temperature and brewing time. So don’t expect your tea to arrive with the leaves in the pot three minutes after ordering.
I’m writing all this sipping a cup of delicious Japanese green tea called Yuzu Temple which comes, if you prefer, in teabags made of natural cotton. The classiest teabags I’ve ever seen. And you’ll find lots of other fancy stuff to bring home. Mariage Frères sell amazing glass teapots or samovars, cast iron teapots, their own Art Nouveau teapots, cookies, precious vanilla shoots in tubes, you name it.
Besides the original tea salon in the Marais, you find shops and tearooms in the Carousel du Louvre, the Rue du Faubourg St.-Honore, at Place de la Madeleine and on the left bank at Rue des Grands-Augustins as well as in most of the big department stores like Galeries Lafayette, Le Bon Marché and Printemps.Mariage Frères 30, rue du Bourg-Tibourg 75004 Paris +33(0)1 42 72 57 25