One of the joys of visiting Paris in the winter is ordering a thick, traditional hot chocolate and some of the best hot chocolate can be found at Angelina, the historic tea salon within the arcades of the rue de Rivoli.
Founded in 1903 by Austrian confectioner Antoine Rumpelmeyer, Angelina was furnished by belle epoque designer Edouard-Jean Niermans and occupies a prime spot just opposite the Tuileries.
Originally a haunt of Coco Chanel, Marcel Proust and later Audrey Hepburn and Catherine Deneuve, Angelina continues to charm Parisians and visitors today with their signature African Hot Chocolate and famous Mont Blanc cake.
We visited late in the day, not knowing that Angelina closes at 7pm, but even though time was ticking, we still couldn’t resist having late-afternoon tea.
The problem with arriving late is that the usually bounteous pastry counter was looking a bit sparse, but we managed to bag the last two eclairs of the day – one Éclair Chocolat (€7) and one Éclair Toute Vanille (€7.50).
Perhaps it was chocolate overload, but we just had to try Angelina’s much-loved Chocolat Chaud a l’ancienne dit ‘L’Africain’ (€7.90) and Chocolat Chaud au Chocolat Blanc (€7.90).
The African hot chocolate, made with cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast, was rich, slightly spicy and full-bodied. By contrast, the white hot chocolate was super sweet, creamy, smooth and just heavenly. Each hot chocolate was served in a china jug with a small pot of whipped cream and a glass of iced water. I recommend ordering one of each and sharing, starting with the white hot chocolate, as there is enough for two cups.
The éclairs were incredibly indulgent and the best I’ve ever tasted. The choux pastry was fresh, not at all dry, filled with thick, rich chocolate crème pâtisserie and topped with a crisp layer of dark chocolate.
The vanilla éclair was filled with fragrant vanilla-infused creme patisserie and topped with a layer of white chocolate containing crunchy little vanilla pod seeds.
Angelina is full of old-world character with faded wall murals, white wood panelling and marble-topped tables. Service is warm and friendly but to the point, and there was a bit of informal bum slapping among the staff, so they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Our waitress didn’t appear to speak English, or at least she didn’t shoot down my efforts with responses in English, so this is the perfect place to come and practice your French.
Angelina also has a large white marble counter where you can buy cakes, macarons and hot drinks to take out. There is also a little boutique, so you can pick up gifts including tea, coffee, chocolate and jams, all with the pretty Angelina packaging.
Angelina isn’t quite as palatial and frivolous as Ladurée, but it has a certain charm and that white chocolate must be tried at least once in life!
Angelina, 226 rue de Rivoli, 75001, Paris. Open daily from 8am-7pm.