As promised as part of my Alternative Paris guides, I am getting around to writing up blog posts for the alternative, unusual and different places that we visited on our recent trip to Paris. Not to miss out on anything brew related, we had to head for a trip to the Mariage Frères which happened to be right on our doorstep in Le Marais.
For those of you who don’t know me so well, I am an absolute tea monster! I am rarely out adventuring without a flask filled with a good brew and that included my wandering of Paris! So when I discovered the Tea Museum or Mariage Frères as it is called, I added it straight to the itinerary. I even have a fresh brew steaming away at my desk as I type this.
Tucked away in a traditionally beautiful Parisian side street, you stumble upon the unassuming brown exterior and simple looking sign that says “Mariage Frères”. The Mariage Frères is actually a well-known tea shop, but the lesser known part is the small museum installed upstairs dedicated to the delicious drink.
Stepping into the shop, you can instantly smell the vast array of tea blends. The shop is jam-packed with lovely jars, gifts and samples all displayed lovingly on wooden shelves and units. It has such a nice traditional feel to it and the wafts of intoxicating tea just make it all the more exciting of an experience.
Musée du Thé / Museum of Tea
Just to the left of the shop, tucked neatly between the tea room and the display units you will spot a small flight of stairs twisting up to the second floor. It might seem as though you need to ask permission or to even pay to go up there, but it is entirely free and they welcome you to explore. We know this after gingerly wandering in and asking the lovely dapper man who was working in the tea shop. We instantly felt at ease after that and enjoyed heading up in anticipation. (unfortunately, my picture of the stairs came out terribly, so here’s a picture at the top of the stairs instead!)
Into the museum
The museum is not the biggest nor the most spacious, but it makes up for that with the most gorgeous of furniture, teapots and urns and displays of artifacts. It is a haven for any tea lover and that is a fact. If you don’t find yourself falling in love with at least one item, then you have totally missed the (tea) boat. The nice thing about the Tea Museum is that is isn’t your holiday destination kind. You know the ones that you might find in a seaside resort sporting a collection of novelty pots. This one is more historical and special, with teapots, urns and sets from all over the world and through the ages.
Every nook and cranny is filled to the brim with cups, saucers, caddies and paraphernalia. All tucked away and displayed in the old oak cabinets. I think it was the display units that we both fell in love with first, then it just kept coming and coming and coming! We loved so much in there.
Weird and wonderful
I assume by the fact that you are reading my post about alternative Paris, that you enjoy the offbeat and different sides of things. So I thought it would only be right to also share some weird and wonderful information about the places that we visit on our alternative travel. For the Tea Museum, we have this one…
Legend has it that famous Indian wise man, Bodhidharma ripped off his eyelids and eye lashes so that he wouldn’t fall asleep while he meditated. When he let them fall to the ground they took root and became the first green tea plants.
I have a small inkling that this isn’t quite true, but it does make a much more interesting story than one of propagation, cross-pollination and seed sowing, don’t you think?
Big and beautiful
We even managed to find a couple of tea pots that would satisfy my fiendish needs! Look at the size of these two pots! I thought my Brown Betty was a good size, but now have my eyes peeled to snag one of these bad boys on eBay (highly unlikely and besides, I am not sure I could fit it in the kitchen. I can dream though)
As you wander through the teapots and cups, you soon come to a second room filled with caddies through the ages. Some plain and simple and others ornately decorated.
And displays of picnic tea sets that certainly put our flask and cool box to shame. Well, you have to have some tea related goals, don’t you?
Because of its size, you won’t be spending the afternoon in the Tea Museum, but you will find enough to keep you occupied for up to half an hour – if you’re anything like we are. We loved looking through the glass, noticing the items at the back, learning about the pots and discussing the styles. And of course taking pictures of me with giant pots.
Just before we headed back down the little staircase, I spotted a poster saying how ‘Tea Revives the World’ and just had to take a picture to share with you. It most certainly does revive the world. It revives me in the morning, after a long hike and when I’m generally thirsty too!
If you’re in Paris and on the lookout for a bit of alternative Paris, then the Tea Museum is the stop for you. We only did the museum (due to our flaskage) but there is a lovely cafe tucked to the back of the shop that smells absolutely divine!
Here’s to good tea all round!
Coming back to goals,though, I feel as though I want to visit tea museums all over the world.
Have you visited the Paris Tea Museum? Do you know of any other tea museums?
Let me know in the comments below!
Mariage Frères Tea Museum
PARIS : Le Marais
30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg
Phone : +33 (0) 1 42 72 28 11
Metro lines 1 / 11 – Hôtel de Ville
Features: Shop, Tea Shop, Free Entry