Autour d'un The, un Voyage, Avignon: courtyardFor a touch of zen in the heart and heat of Avignon, there can be few nicer spots than this serene and elegant tea room in a chapel within the 15th century Petit Palais, just off the crowded city centre. logo

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You don't need to visit the adjoining museum to take tea here (though the Musée du Petit Palais contains an exceptional collection of Italian religious art from the Middle Ages and Renaissance). Just go through the main archway into the Palais and follow the signs.

Formerly based in the rue Pasteur, near the university on the edge of the walled city, Dominique Castagna was persuaded to move to this seductive new location in the summer of 2010. The name remains the same, though.

Roughly translated, it means "a journey over (or around) tea" and the menu of Autour d'un Thé, un Voyage offers a mini-odyssey through over 85 different varieties of tea from around the world.

Castagna's own blends incorporate flavours such as cherries or almonds and, for those who want something else, there is coffee and thick, home-made hot chocolate.

You can buy leaf-tea to take away, or choose from a selection of books on this inexhaustible subject. Madame Castagna also offers oriental tea ceremonies, by reservation.

Autour d'un The, un Voyage, Avignon: interiorAutour d'un Thé, un Voyage serves home-made patisserie and light lunches every day, apart from Tuesday, when the Petit Palais itself is closed. But the main attraction is its themed weekend brunches, for which you also need to reserve ahead.

These offer a traditional spread of breads, jams and honey, fresh juices, eggs and smoked salmon, ham and cheese and desserts. The twist is that each week a different exotic tea is highlighted, with food to match: you might be able to sample blinis with Russian tea, for instance, or sushi with a Japanese one.

The high-ceilinged chapel - cosy in cold weather despite its high ceiling and exposed stonework - seats just a couple of dozen diners. But you can spill out into the Palais' peaceful inner courtyard in summer, or on a clement winter's day. The salon remains open all year round.

Where: Autour d'un Thé, un Voyage, Musée du Petit Palais, Palais des Archévêques, place du Palais, 84000 Avignon. Tel: (+33) 4 90 83 15 92.


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