Air-Conditioned Paris Tea Salons

During a Parisian heatwave, many of us still love the pretty outdoor summer terrasses but you may prefer the cooler air-conditioned Paris tea salons if you’re particularly sensitive to the more intense heat.

The good news is that, after some homework, most establishments on my list of favourite Parisian tearooms have air conditioning and so I’ve added a new key (AC) to indicate them.

Air-conditioned Paris tea salons

Air-Conditioned Paris Tea Salons

For bars, cafés and restaurants also look out for the air-conditioned sign saying “salle climatisée”.

As indicated on my list, the Grand Magasins (department stores) plus the luxury palace hotels all,  unsurprisingly, have air-conditioning but for the smaller, cosy tearooms, it’s not always to be expected in summer.  Let me show you two of my coolest just to whet your appetite. Alas, I wanted to do a much bigger list here but as I’ve been out sick and it has been so hot, my photos have just had to wait. Most importantly, the full updated list is here.

air-conditioned paris tea salons

Jardin Secret Salon de Thé, Bontemps

When I first discovered this hidden jewel north of the Marais when it opened in October 2018, I almost wanted to keep it for myself! Already the location of being in a cobbled courtyard next to their patisserie is delightful. With a light fragrance of orange blossom indoors, plenty of light, flowers, greenery and mirrors, it has a real happy feel-good ambience.

air-conditioned paris tea salons

Seating is available in the courtyard outside but their spacious tea salon is pretty cool, including comfy sofas for those that arrive first. Luxury indeed. And that’s before even trying their cakes!

Don’t miss their speciality: lightly salted sablés from biscuits to beautiful pastries constructed around them. It never fails to amaze me how the French are so clever at balancing the play of fleur de sel salt in a tart crust or biscuit and topping it with best quality chocolate or fresh berries that’s sweetened but not too sweet.  They have it to perfection.

air-conditioned paris tea salons

I love not only their fruit tarts but try the Mont Blanc in both winter: classic with chestnut, cream infused with Earl Grey tea or summer: the lightest, fluffiest whipped vanilla Chantilly cream served with a fresh compote of slightly acidic Gariguette strawberries.  Not just a relaxed tea salon but great for breakfast, brunch and light lunches too – their scrambled eggs are just like the pastries: light as a feather.

air-conditioned paris tea salons

Bontemps, one of the coolest air-conditioned Paris Tea Salons

Just don’t come without trying the exquisite pastries!

Bontemps, 57 Rue de Bretagne, Paris 3
(Metros: Temple, République)

Air-conditioned paris tea salons

KL PATISSERIE

Head to Avenue de Villiers for this cool new contemporary tea salon created by pastry chef Kévin Lacote.

There’s something so exhilirating to watch chefs prepare your food directly from an open lab while you are sitting in anticipation, waiting for the ‘création à la minute’ where many of their specialities are assembled at the last minute to retain their freshness, as of 11am.

Air-conditioned Paris tea salons

KL, one of the coolest air-conditioned Paris tea salons

Don’t miss the KL vanilla Churros served with an orange-passion compote and dark chocolate sauce, which is remarkably light and not too sweet. Also worth noting is the vanilla-caramel millefeuille or the brioche pain perdu served on a confiture de lait. I tried his breakfast with freshly squeezed orange and a most light buttery airy croissant from his selection of viennoiseries.

air-conditioned Paris tea salons

Calling all vanilla flan fans. You’ll find my favourite kind of creamy vanilla flan with specks of real vanilla in it: the real McCoy!

KL Patisserie, 78 Avenue de Villiers, Paris 17
(Metro: Villiers)

CLICK HERE to see the list of Air-Conditioned Paris Tea Salons
(by arrondissement).

Coolest Paris Tea Salons with Air-Conditioning

Saint-Germain Almond Cake

If you haven’t yet tried the Saint-Germain almond cake, then you’ll probably go nuts after tasting this.

Saint-Germain almond cake

Known simply as le Saint-Germain, this almond-packed cake with a subtle hint of rum was created in 1920 by the Pâtisserie Hardy in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, just west of Paris.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

As you can imagine, I’ve tried all sorts of ways to be able to extract the recipe from the patisserie’s creators on rue des Louviers. Each time, however, it’s made clear that the secret recipe has never left the laboratory since it was created in 1920.  So, what’s a girl to do?

The answer? Taste as many Saint-Germain cakes as possible and develop as close to the recipe myself to share a part of our delicious royal town, so that you can transport a bit of the Parisian life to your own kitchen, wherever you may be.

Le Saint Germain

Le Saint-Germain Versions

In Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Le Saint-Germain almond cake is available also at the Patisserie Grandin in rue au Pain. While both versions are full of almonds and clearly have some bits of almonds in there too (not just powdered), Grandin’s version is laced a lot more with rum. In fact, it’s pretty boozy!

Not everyone loves rum but if you’re like our family, we love it and a good splash in the glaze is great. Add another tablespoon in the almond filling just for that extra oh-là-là kick.

Saint-Germain Cake

With or Without the Pastry Base

When I first tasted le Saint-Germain almond cake made by a French neighbour, she didn’t serve the cake at all using sweet pastry like the patisserie versions: it was without the the tart shell and served as a plain – and gluten-free – cake. If you prefer this, it’s just as good on its own, although I’m adding the tart base just to keep the recipe more authentic – even if it’s not from Hardy’s secret laboratory!  After painstaking tasting sessions with Lucie, however, I’m happy with the result as it tastes just as good.

Saint Germain Cake

Saint-Germain Almond Cake

Just like macarons, once you’ve made this try and forget about it for 24 hours as it tastes so much better after leaving it aside for a day to mature.  Believe me, after being greedy and trying it too soon, it really is worth the wait.  Try it for yourself and taste the difference.

Saint-Germain Almond Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Resting Time
16 hrs 40 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Known as Le Saint-Germain, this almond and rum cake sits in a pastry shell and tastes even better the next day.  Made with ground almonds and a hint of rum, it's an easy recipe which is also served by locals without the tart base, making it a gluten free cake.

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: almond rum cake, Easy almond tart recipes, Saint Germain almond cake, Saint-Germain
Servings: 8
Calories: 260 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Sweet Pastry Base:
  • 125 g (4.5oz) butter (unsalted) softened
  • 75 g (3oz) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (fleur de sel)
  • 1 egg (organic)
  • 250 g (9oz) plain flour (all-purpose)
Almond Filling:
  • 100 g (3.5oz) unsalted butter softened
  • 75 g (3oz) sugar
  • 2 eggs (organic) at room temperature
  • 100 g (3.5oz) ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 1 tbsp good quality rum optional
  • 25 g (1oz) slivered almonds
Glaze:
  • 4 tbsp icing (powdered) sugar
  • 2 tbsp good quality rum
Instructions
Sweet Pastry (this part is optional):
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4/360°F.

  2. Beat the butter, sugar and salt together in a mixer or by hand until pale and creamy. Gradually add the other ingredients until well combined then split the dough in two, cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour. (You won't need all of this dough - you can freeze the rest or keep it for up to 3 days.)

  3. Remove from the fridge until easily workable. Roll out the pastry to 3-4mm thickness on a floured surface then press into a 24cm (9") tart ring or into a pie case. Leave to set in the fridge for 20 minutes then blind bake by topping with baking parchment and baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. (For a more detailed step-by-step recipe, see my chapter on tarts in 'Teatime in Paris'.) Set aside to cool on a wire rack once turned out.

Almond Filling:
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the eggs, ground almonds and rum if using.  Sprinkle the slivered almonds on the base of the baked pastry base then spread on the almond filling.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.  Set aside to cool then chill for 24 hours or overnight. 

Glaze:
  1. Mix together the icing (powdered) sugar with the rum and spread the glaze on to the cooled almond tart. 

Recipe Notes

Set aside in the fridge for 24 hours to mature and serve at room temperature to appreciate all of the flavours. Decorate with red fruits.

Note: Some local friends make this without the tart base and it's just as good, even if not an authentic Saint-Germain cake.  If making this without the sweet pastry base, add another egg to the almond filling.

Nutritional Information: 240 Calories per serving; 6g protein.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

More on Saint-Germain-en-Laye

For your own DIY tours, see my posts on Saint-Germain-en-Laye’s rooftop castle visit, a chocolate and pastry teatime walk, and find out other speciality recipes that were created here, including the Sauce Béarnaise.

Saint Germain Cake

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Béarnaise Sauce – Recipe & Origins

How many times have you seen the French classic Béarnaise Sauce on a menu and thought it was perhaps too difficult to make? Well, let me show you how easy it is to whip up the real McCoy at home. It also tastes 100 times better than the jarred stuff in supermarkets!

Moreover, did you know that there’s at least another herb in it, apart from tarragon? Read on from the birthplace of the Sauce Béarnaise itself in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, just outside Paris and discover the  simple Béarn-ecessities of life!

Sauce Béarnaise

Difference Between Hollandaise & Béarnaise Sauce

In the 1800s, Chef Antonin Carême noted that in French cuisine, there were four basic sauces – each called a “Mother Sauce”. Later, Auguste Escoffier took Câreme’s rules of Haute Cuisine a step further by adding a basic fifth sauce, the Hollandaise sauce, an emulsion of egg yolks, white vinegar and wine (or lemon juice) plus melted butter.

The Hollandaise’s most famous offspring, the Béarnaise sauce, has the fragrant addition of shallots, tarragon and chervil – yet had nothing much to do with the French Province of Béarn. The Béarnaise Sauce was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, just west of Paris.

Béarnaise Sauce

The Origins of Béarnaise Sauce, near Paris

It took place at Le Pavillon Henri IV, a hotel in Saint-Germain-en-Laye which was built over the original spot of the Château Neuf, where Louis XIV was born in 1638 – for more on this part, see my post here.

In the 1830’s, Head Chef Jean-Louis Françoise-Collinet experimented with a shallot reduction then, taking the basic recipe for Sauce Hollandaise, replaced the lemon juice with white wine vinegar, shallots, chervil and tarragon and the Sauce Béarnaise was born. It’s the tarragon and white wine vinegar that makes that fragrantly addictive acidity that we associate with the star of sauces with serious steaks.

Why did Collinet call it Béarnaise? Inspired by the name of the hotel, Henri IV, it was the King’s previous home at the Château Neuf before it was a restaurant and he came from the province of Béarn. Shortly after, the chef also accidentally invented the soufflée potato and served both of his creations at the opening of the hotel in 1836.

Béarnaise sauce

Le Pavillon Henri IV, SaintGermain-en-Laye, the birthplace of Béarnaise Sauce

Béarnaise Sauce – Tarragon, Chervil and Parsley

Today, the hotel’s chef, Patrick Käppler, has posted the Béarnaise Sauce recipe in French, published by the Hotel Pavillon Henri IV here, without the actual quantities. As you can see, to continue the sauce’s tradition, he doesn’t just use the classic tarragon (estragon) – but also chervil (cerfeuil), another essential ingredient, and parsley (persil) too.

Following my challenge from L’Office de Tourisme in les Yvelines, this Béarnaise Sauce recipe was also cited by the novelist, Alexandre Dumas.  More known for his Three Muskateers and The Count of Monte Cristo, as a serious gourmet and cook, he also published his Grand Culinary Dictionary (only in French).  He cites using a good vinegar from Orléans, uses oil instead of butter and parsley or tarragon:

Alexandre Dumas: Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine (1873), under “Sauce”,

Sauce échalote à la béarnaise.
Mettez dans une petite casserole deux cuillerées à bouche d’échalote hachée et quatre cuillerées de bon vinaigre d’Orléans ; la poser sur le feu et cuire les échalotes jusqu’à ce que le vinaigre soit réduit de moitié ; retirez alors la casserole, et quand l’appareil est à peu près refroidi, mêlez-lui quatorze jaunes d’oeufs, broyez-les à la cuiller et joignez-leur quatre cuillerées à bouche de bonne huile. Posez alors la casserole sur un feu doux ; liez la sauce en la tournant, retirez-la aussitôt qu’elle est à point, et lui incorporez encore un demi-verre d’huile, mais en l’alternant avec le jus d’un citron ; finir la sauce avec un peu d’estragon ou de persil haché et un peu de glace de viande.

Béarnaise Sauce

What Goes with Béarnaise Sauce?

Béarnaise Sauce can transform a simple grill and is the perfect accompaniment with salmon, chargrilled steaks, chicken and asparagus. If you love Eggs Benedict, you’ll know that poached eggs marry well with Hollandaise sauce – but try it with Béarnaise sauce, with its added herbs, and it is sheer luxury.

Béarnaise Sauce

Can Béarnaise Sauce Keep?

Béarnaise sauce is best when made as close as possible to serving.  Ideally, serve within an hour (no more than 2 hours max.), keeping the sauce slightly warm (not hot!) over a pan of simmering water. If the sauce gets too hot and starts to split, add a little warm water.  Frankly, I’ve not had problems with the latter, as the recipe is so easy and as long as it’s served reasonably quickly, the results are light and fluffy. The sauce also freezes well.

Sauce Béarnaise

Béarnaise Sauce Recipe

Many chefs make this straight in the pan using the same quantities in the recipe, just like Dumas describes above.  I prefer making it over a bain-marie (bowl over simmering water) and, although this method sounds more hassle, it’s actually much less easy to curdle the sauce and the result is light and sabayon or mousse-like. However, if you prefer to make the sauce in the same pan, then carefully ensure that the temperature doesn’t get too high.

 

Béarnaise Sauce
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

An easy recipe for the classic French Sauce Béarnaise, inspired by the creator in the 1830s near Paris, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Course: Condiments
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Bearnaise, Bearnaise history, French cuisine, French sauces, Hollandaise, Parisian cuisine
Servings: 6
Calories: 280 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 50 g (2oz) white wine vinegar
  • 90 g (3.5oz) white wine
  • 2 small shallots chopped finely
  • 3 branches fresh tarragon branches separated from finely chopped up leaves
  • 3 grinds black pepper
  • 3 egg yolks organic
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 125 g (4.5oz) unsalted butter gently melted
  • 1 tbsp fresh chervil finely chopped
  • pinch salt fleur de sel
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh parsley (flat-leaf) optional
Instructions
  1. Bring the white vinegar, wine, shallots, tarragon branches and pepper to a boil in a small saucepan. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat and leave to reduce for about 5 minutes until there's about a couple of tablespoons. Pour into another bowl and set aside to cool then filter out the shallots and herbs using a sieve.

  2. Fill the saucepan with 1/4 of water and bring to a simmer.  Place over it a large bowl with the cooled vinegar reduction, yolks and water then whisk constantly until the sabayon becomes mousse-like.

  3. After about 5 minutes, as soon as the sauce starts to thicken, take the bowl off the heat and, continuing to whisk, incorporate the warm, melted butter. Add the chopped tarragon, chervil and parsley, if using.  Season with a little salt and it's ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

If not serving straight away, keep at room temperature and return the bowl over the simmering water before ready to serve to re-heat, adding a little hot water if necessary.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

The Béarn-ecessities of life
They’ll come to you …

Béarnaise Sauce

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