While Lenotre tea salon is sadly no longer here in Versailles, I have kept this post for the fascinating courtyard. It's totally free and worth a visit near the Château.
As I stood there thinking about asking for some bread - or dare I say, brioche (incidentally, Marie-Antoinette never said that) - at the massive gates to the Château de Versailles, I realised that we could eat macarons and pastries instead, just next door.
La Cour des Senteurs in Versailles
Just in front of the Palace of Versailles is La Cour des Senteurs. This courtyard was recently renovated and celebrates the history of perfume around the 18th Century. This quiet sanctuary of fragrances is just a mere 100m meters away from one of the biggest tourists attractions in the world.
The Cour (or courtyard) houses Guerlain, the perfumery that recently created an exclusive Eau de Parfum edition, called Cour de Senteurs to celebrate its opening in Versailles.
Marie-Antoinette's Favourite Fragrance
In the most pretty bottles, the perfume is exquisite, and includes Queen Marie-Antoinette's favourite fragrance, jasmine.
"...sharing the magic and splendour of the lavish balls held at the Château de Versailles, it's a sensual fragrance with a majestic trail in which jasmine leads the dance."Guerlain on Marie-Antoinette's favourite jasmine
If you're like me and love beautifully scented candles, then the wonderful fragrances continue. Luxury perfumed candles such as jasmine, mimosa, rose, figs, mint and red berries are highlighted at the Diptyque boutique.
Fragrance houses also use spices, edible flowers and fresh aromatic herbs - not just for their visual pleasure but a rich pleasure, marrying fragrance and taste.
At the far end of the courtyard, tea and pâtisseries beckoned in the previously located Lenôtre.
Now no longer in Versailles, not to worry as they still have many locations in Paris. Many of their gourmet creations are inspired by Versaille's French gardens and the King's Vegetable garden (potager du roi).
Lenôtre's Head Pastry Chef
Lenôtre's Pastry chef, Guy Krenzer, Meilleur Ouvrier de France 1988 and 1996, added jasmine flower to the filling of this Saveur Royal. This gold tinted macaron was totally inspired by jasmine-loving Marie-Antoinette.
Add Jasmine Tea to Macarons!
What a lovely idea! As a result, I couldn't resist trying jasmine in my own macaron fillings. Try infusing some jasmine tea into the cream for these salted caramel macarons - it's wonderful.
Instead three delicate macaron flavours were worth ordering with tea: pina colada, strawberry-ginger (I loved the after-taste of the spicy ginger!), and by far my favourite - chocolate-yuzu.
What's the L7G at Lenôtre?
I have always ogled that lovely macaron porcelain tea-set but note that little cube of chocolate, the "L7G".
It has been in Lenôtre boutiques since September 2009 and as the name implies, it weighs 7 grams and partners dark chocolate with a coffee ganache.
Lenôtre's Signature: le Schuss
I couldn't resist trying the Schuss, which is a signature dessert created by Gaston Lenôtre in 1968 for the Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, where Jean-Claude Killy made France proud with 3 gold ski medals.
This is a revisited verrine version of his classic with red fruits, filled with joconde sponge biscuit and a light fromage frais mousse and served with a beautifully tart red fruit coulis.
I'm no skier, and flying downhill at high speed scares the living daylights out of me but I certainly couldn't help enjoying its light freshness at full speed - Schhuuuusssss!
For something more classic to welcome spring and the French strawberry season, who can resist a tarte aux fraises? These are one of my favourite treats for goûter. See my strawberry tart with pistachio pastry cream.
Cour des Senteurs Garden - It's Free!
Take a stroll around the Cour des Senteurs garden. Plants are glass-cased like in an outdoor museum, complete with fragrance facts and perfumery notes.
The walkway takes you to the Jeu de Paume Game Room (the predecessor of tennis, played by the court from 1686, now a French Revolution museum, open afternoons) and the Potager du Roi.
Since 2018 LeNôtre at this Versailles location is closed but these signature pastries continue around France. See their website for Paris addresses: including rue Lecourbe, avenue Wagram (near the Arc de Triomphe), rue Saint-Antoine (Bastille) and rue d'Auteuil (Paris 16th).
For many more, see my updated Guide to best tearooms in Paris.