In France, food is art on a plate. So it makes sense that some of the most memorable eating experiences can be found in some of Paris’s most delectable museums …
Rose Bakery, Musée de la Vie Romantique
Rose Bakery, with its perfumed teas and olde-worlde cakes (think marble-swirled, berry slathered in pink icing, and fresh-from-the-farm carrot), could not have found a more perfectly fitting Parisian setting than the Museum of the Romantic Life, which celebrates the nineteenth-century author George Sand and the emotion-laced lifestyle of her fellow romantiques artist friends. Totter down the cobbled lane, past the bursts of hydrangea and hollyhock, towards the green-shuttered, ivy-flecked pavilion that once belonged to painter Ary Scheffer. You’ll find the café in the house’s old greenhouse. Take a seat on a vintage Parisian park chair in the rambling rose garden, and pinch yourself for the loveliness of the moment.
16, Rue Chaptal 75009; 10.00am-5.30pm (Tuesday-Sunday); you don’t need a museum ticket to get to the café (entry to the museum is actually free, although you are politely asked for a small donation).
Café Renoir, Musée de Montmartre
For a taste of the real Montmartre of old, skip the Place du Tertre with its ring of tourist-trap restaurants, and find your way along the cobbled back streets to the district’s official museum, which is comprised of former artist studios and Montmartre’s oldest townhouse, dating from the seventeenth-century. The glasshouse café is nestled within the bucolic gardens in which Renoir once painted (a swing suspended from a towering plane tree commemorates this fact). If it’s a fine day, eat your quiche or salad outside, on the quaint vintage garden furniture, and imagine yourself picnicking in an Impressionist painting.
12, Rue Cortot 75018; 12.15pm-6.00pm daily; free access for museum visitors, or pay €4 at the museum entrance if you’re here for the food alone.
Le Café Jacquemart-André
Set in the glittering dining room of a Belle Époque mansion that is more akin to a city château, this has to be the most jaw-droppingly glamorous tea room in town. Not every eatery can boast a Tiepolo on the ceiling, after all. Light lunch is served, but really it’s all about the dessert trolley, laden with extravagant creations that play up to the deliciousness of the surroundings; think luscious lemon meringue pies and tarts adorned with berries that gleam like rubies.
158, Boulevard Haussmann 75008; 11.45am-5.30pm Monday-Friday, 11.00am-5.30 weekends (a set brunch is served 11.00am-2.30pm Sunday); you can skip the museum queue for quick café access.
Le Jardin du Petit Palais
Inside is a cafeteria-style restaurant, but this place is really all about its courtyard garden, an oasis of vibrant greenery and tranquil ponds — especially in April, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Claim a pretty wrought-iron table set along the magnificent colonnade, with its garlands of gold, and exquisite mosaics underfoot and overhead. It’s the perfect place for a reviving cup of tea, and an energising macaron or two.
Avenue Winston Churchill 75008; 10.00am-5.00pm (Tuesday-Sunday); entry to the museum is free.
Le Café du Musée Rodin
The sculpture garden here, lavished over three hectares, is a museum in itself; The Gates of Hell standing in contrast to a rose-edged parterre, The Thinker soaring alongside topiaries, and statues of authors Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac popping up amid the lindens and chestnuts. So you’ll want to spend quality time taking in all the delights of this classic French jardin. One of which is the café, and its terrace by the clipped hedges and hydrangea bushes. There’s a great array of food options, whether you’re here for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.
77, Rue de Varenne 75007; 1.00am-5.00pm (Tuesday-Sunday); €13 for entry to the museum and garden.