Spending an hour or so shopping for ridiculously gorgeous shoes is known to pique one’s appetite, and where better to end up hungry than at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris? Welcomed by friendly doormen, I stepped into a vast lobby to find myself faced with theatrical floral arrangements which can only be described as art. It’s easy to see why the artistic director Jeff Leatham is such an asset to the hotel. Spectacular arrangements of calla lilies and hydrangeas, which just happen to be my favourite, fill the space as you stroll around one of the city’s original luxury hotels, giving a unique contemporary feel while respecting the foundations and style of the Four Seasons.
Greeted by the soothing sounds of a pianist, my friend and I were seated in La Galerie, an elegant, welcoming space in the heart of the hotel. The well placed dessert tray served to tempt our appetites well before we’d even sat down. With the natural light beaming in from the courtyard, the walls lined with Flemish tapestries dating back to the 19th century and the contemporary floral displays, the old and new work in unison to create an area steeped in history yet accessible to all ages.
After much debate, it was time to give the cucumber sandwiches a break; we resolved to try the unique ‘thé complet à la française’ (French-style afternoon tea) composed of savoury treats such as fois gras with apricot chutney and bite-size crab and quinoa canapés. Famed pastry chef Lucien Gautier’s creations of chocolate and passionfruit macarons and miniature opéra cakes, which are coffee-flavoured sponge cakes complete with a coffee buttercream and a chocolate ganache, further cement my view that nobody makes desserts quite like the French. Not only were they presented as works of art, they tasted heavenly.
As if the pumpkin soup and buttery madeleines weren’t enough, the Four Seasons delighted me on all levels with the scones, which were kept warm as we chatted the afternoon away. Heaven knows what would have happened had this British woman been served cold scones… Accompanied by lashings of Devonshire clotted cream, just as they are supposed to be, added a wonderful English touch. The harmonious marriage between the Great British tradition of afternoon tea and the finest French ingredients worked flawlessly.
I’ve enjoyed afternoon tea at some of the finest hotels in Paris, but having my Japanese Sencha tea served in an authentic Japanese teapot, as it was here at the Four Seasons, was a first.
La Galerie is open all day, so you can stop off for a serving of breakfast or lunch, but with such a unique take on afternoon tea, my recommendation is to pop in during the afternoon. Sitting around enjoying the seemingly secluded luxury is always a nice way to pass the time, but add excellent service and there is nowhere quite like the Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris. The staff fawned over us, offering us a choice of Champagne, were incredibly knowledgeable about the extensive dessert menu, and even kind enough to bring us an extra serving of their chocolate and yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit, at the end of our tea. Chocolate will always win me over.
Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris, 31, Avenue George V, 75008 Paris, France. Tel. + 33 (0) 1 49 52 70 00. Website.