Twinings Tea Room
Feel like a little bit of England in the heart of Paris? Feel a hankering for the tea-room atmosphere and some tasty scones? Well, this is just the place.
I have been into the WH Smith English Bookstore on rue de Rivoli (opposite the Tuileries Gardens) many times over the years, especially if looking for English language travel books. It is France’s largest English bookshop, which opened here in 1903. WH Smith became part of the ex-pat life in Paris, and many celebrities and intellectuals (for example Marlene Dietrich, Jane Birkin, Woody Allen, Isabelle Adjani) visited to enjoy tea and scones. Sadly, the famous tea-room closed for about 26 years, so when we visited before we never even thought about having tea.
But, in October 2016 a tea-room re-opened upstairs and the proprietors called it Twinings Tea Room. WH Smith worked in partnership with Twinings in London to make this possible.
Point to note: In 1717, at 216 Strand, London, Thomas Twining—ahead of his time—opened the first address in the western world that was dedicated to tasting tea and where women were allowed. It’s still there today.
One day this past spring, we had been in the Tuileries Gardens and thought that, just for fun, we would try to have coffee in Angelina’s, where Coco Chanel famously had a regular table. Two things changed our minds: Angelina’s (226 rue de Rivoli) is really rather over-priced we discovered, plus the Twinings sign beckoned to us and we decided to go there instead.
It was a great idea. The Twinings Tea Room is upstairs in three beautifully decorated rooms, done by combining contemporary forms with a strong salute to the past. So, we see coats-of-arms, plaster moldings and original carved woodworks, and colorful furniture with modern shapes. There’s even a photo of young Queen Elizabeth! Patrons can peruse a range of books, English daily newspapers, magazines, stationery and greeting cards. It’s a great way to unite the worlds of books and teas.
The Tea Room serves different things all day. How about Scottish porridge for breakfast? For brunch or lunch, they offer salad du jour, quiche du jour, sandwiches, Scotch Eggs, Welsh Rarebit, and a Ploughman’s lunch, to name a few. For Afternoon Tea you can choose from an assortment of puddings, pies, crumbles, and of course scones with cream and jam.
They offer a large range of all kinds of teas, but we just opted for two Earl Grey teas, which came in a lovely glass teapot, and the Cream Tea—two scones with jam, cold butter and cream. Plenty.
It’s a fun place to sit and relax, chat, catch up on my journal and enjoy a real cup of tea and a scone.
An extra fun find (not linked to tea, but related to books): We found a shelf with new Enid Blyton books (anyone remember the wonderful Enid Blyton kids’ books?). These are very modern and obviously geared towards adults, with titles like “Five Forget Mother’s Day”, “Five on Brexit Island”, and “Five Go Gluten Free”. What fun!
WH Smith, 248 rue de Rivoli
Closest Metro: Tuileries
Bookshop open Mon-Sat 9:30am-7:30pm, Sunday 12:30-7pm
Tea Room open Mon-Sat 9:30am-7pm, Sunday 12:30-6:30pm.