Angelina is something of a Paris institution, a grand Salon du Thé which exudes class, even more so than the venerable Café de Flore. From its shop on the rue de Rivoli, on the north edge of the Tuileries Gardens, it’s been serving the folk of Paris (and its fair share of visitors too: judging by the accents, faces and amount of English being spoken, Angelina is a major tourist draw) with exquisite cakes, artery-clogging hot chocolate and fine coffee since 1903.
While you might go to Café de Flore or its neighbour, Les Deux Magots, for the coffee, the people watching or the general ambience, with Angelina, you are definitely paying for the elegant surroundings and the (quite possibly literally) to-die-for patisserie such as the legendary Mont Blanc or the signature hot chocolate, l’Africain.
If you can’t get to the rue de Rivoli (or can’t get in!) there are other branches around Paris (plus one in Lyon and nine in Japan!). Alternatively, rue de Rivoli has a takeaway counter (useful for the budget-conscious). I’ve only tried the branch in the Louvre, which, while serving the same excellent fare, doesn’t quite have the same class as the rue de Rivoli original.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Like many French cafes, Angelina does a wide range of food, including breakfast, lunch, snacks and full meals. I’ve only had breakfast there, the prices (which are commensurate with the overall sense of opulence) having put me off eating anything more substantial. While Angelina does a perfectly respectable breakfast, at a rather steep €20 (€29 if you want eggs), I prefer Café de Flore if I’m going to splash out.
For me, there’s only one reason for visiting Angelina: its signature patisserie, Le Mont Blanc. This is a rich concoction of whipped cream on a meringue base, encased in chestnut cream vermicelli. Divine! The perfect accompaniment is Angelina’s amazing hot chocolate, l’Africain, which is incredibly rich and smooth. You can feel the pounds amassing around your waist as it slides down your throat. Taken together, they’re a combination that is (literally) to die for.
However, let it not be said that I don’t make sacrifices for my readers. Since this is the Coffee Spot, I thought I should have coffee, so ordered cafe au lait (a pot of coffee and another of steamed milk). Other options are the coffee on its own (if you want to save 20 cents) or an “expresso” (if you want to save a euro), which is much like its equivalent at Café de Flore. As it was I should have saved myself the 20 cents since I drank the coffee black. Perhaps it’s a sign of my evolving palette, but I couldn’t see myself having done that two years ago! The coffee was surprisingly nice, smooth and strong without being too bitter. I’ve had better (at Flore for example), but nonetheless I was very happy with my choice.
The whole ensemble came with a carafe of water which was a nice touch, although for somewhere with Angelina’s aspirations, it’s to be expected.
Both Café de Flore and Angelina offer a touch of class at a similar price. However, the experiences are very different. Whereas Flore is functional and bustling in its elegance, Angelina goes for opulence and a more relaxed manner. That’s not to say it isn’t busy; I count myself a semi-regular visitor and usually have to queue to get in. There have also been plenty of occasions when I’ve given it a miss. The day before my visit was a good example; the queue was out of the door and down the pavement, so I gave up and came back the next day when there were just two people waiting to get in! Despite being constantly busy, Angelina doesn’t feel rushed and there’s no pressure to vacate the table (not that I was ever pursued by the staff at Flore, there was just a feeling that once the coffee was drunk, it was time to move on).
The décor is opulent: gold abounds, with paintings and mirrors adorning the walls, making Flore seem plain in comparison. The only area where Flore outdid Angelina was in the toilets, the gents at Angelina not living up to the rest of the building! In contrast, Angelina’s waiting staff, although still formally dressed, are much less formal than their counterparts at Flore. Another noticeable difference is that about half the staff were women: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a waitress at Flore!
|226 RUE DE RIVOLI • PARIS • 75001 • FRANCE|
|www.angelina-paris.fr||+33 (0) 1 42 60 82 00|
|Monday||07:30 – 19:00||Seating||Tables|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 19:00||Food||Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Cake|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 19:00||Service||Table|
|Thursday||07:30 – 19:00||Cards||Visa, Mastercard|
|Friday||07:30 – 19:00||Wifi||No|
|Saturday||08:30 – 19:00||Power||No|
|Sunday||08:30 – 19:00||Mobile||N/A|
|Chain||Local||Visits||23rd May 2013|
A word of caution; Angelina is not laptop friendly (although if you go to Angelina and spend your time on your laptop, I question your priorities!). I’ve never seen anyone using one there and I didn’t dare whip mine out, so I wrote the first draft of this piece, all 600 words of it, on my smart phone, which was a lot less painful than expected!
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