A trip of a lifetime found me ordering my first cup of tea – (from hereafter spelled in French – thé) with croissants at a café in Paris. A tepid drink devoid of flavor was served and to my shock had a 4-euro price tag. Five dollars and fifty cents American. Something would have to be done if I were to be in France for 2 weeks. My budget and palate would not survive.
I mercifully discovered that I could purchase Lipton Earl Grey tea at McDonalds for 1 euro 40. I know for Francophile elitists that to even mention McDonalds and France in the same breath is a cultural faux pas. C’est la vie, this girl had limited funds.
There are divine Parisian tearooms where a proper cup of tea can be enjoyed. But my 3-day marathon visit precluded an afternoon savoring a cup tea with a melt in your mouth butter cookie. Procuring a steaming brew with expediency was crucial, as every moment was consumed with sightseeing.
Paris Champs Elysees!
Hence it was on our last day in Paris that I had just completed a walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe and I had not yet had my early morning hot tea. It is now late afternoon. I am grumpy. Still tea-less. I am scouring the Champs Elysées and every side street for the famous yellow arches, not the Arc that everyone else is admiring. Finally, I spot the arches at the Galerie Des Champs. We head in; I am elated, I speak the entire order en Francais: “Deux thé s’il vous plait et un hamburger. C’est Combien?” Only 4 Euros, I even ask for “trois sucres.”
The problem arose when I asked for “la crème.” No crème, no milk, no cartons of milk. No milk in the entire store. How is this possible! (said with French accent). I ask for someone who speaks English. I ask for crème. “No crème Madame.” He explained the café and milk are mixed automatically in a machine. I am aghast and reply with the words that I regrettably now type, “NO MILK IN THE ENTIRE STORE, THIS IS A T R A G E D Y for FRANCE!! That’s right I actually said it. My singular “ugly foreigner” act.
In my defense it was 3:30 pm and I had yet to have my tea. Now it wasn’t until I sat down that I realized that the poor gal serving me had given me Lipton Green Tea with mint. NO WONDER THEY WEREN’T OFFERING CRÈME. WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND HAS CRÈME WITH GREEN MINT TEA? I chalk the experience up to an unfortunate combination of mistaken tea flavor, aching feet, sore back and A WOMAN WHO had yet to have her morning cuppa.
Next time in Paris (perhaps) I’ll go to the Ladurée store on the Champs-Elysées. Now THAT is a proper tea house.