A Paris enthusiast brings her favorite city to Southern California with an imaginative tea room and boutique.
Inside Paris in a Cup, a combination tea salon and boutique located in historic downtown Orange, California, and one is transported straight to the City of Lights, c. 1958. Boasting clocks that tick to Paris time and a chalkboard in the entryway that lists the current weather in the world’s most romantic city, this imaginative space is the closest one will come to a French sojourn without crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
A longtime proprietor in downtown Orange, Paris in a Cup owner Cheryl Turner used to have a tea room in the Southern California neighborhood known for its antiques shops. “I sold the tea room to someone, but when she closed it down about two years ago we had a lot of people asking us to open another one,” Turner says. “We just had so many inquiries from people wondering if I would consider it again.”
“We decided on Paris in the late ’50s. We started talking about actresses like Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn and Leslie Caron, who made movies in Paris, and we just took it from there,” says Turner.
Bringing Paris Stateside
Although she possesses a great love for everything Parisian, Turner has never visited her favorite city because of an inner-ear problem that makes air travel difficult. “Since I haven’t been able to go, I decided to bring it to me,” she says. When coming up with the concept for Paris in a Cup, she relied on friend and artist Sharon Sakimoto, who has traveled to Paris nine times and taken hundreds of photographs of the city. “Sharon sat down with me and gave me so many great ideas,” says Turner, who also did a lot of research on the Internet and spoke with other friends who’ve been to France. “When we were in the transition, I had so many people tell me that they’d been somewhere and I need to check this or that out.”
In addition to listening to her friends’ personal accounts of Paris, Turner pored over old movies filmed in France, like An American in Paris and Weekend at the Waldorf, searching for details she could incorporate into Paris in a Cup. Instead of simply gleaning ideas from the silver screen, Turner decided she wanted to entirely re-create elements from the movies inside Paris in a Cup. “I had some actual things reproduced from some of the old movies because they really created the feel we were looking for.”
One of the pieces she had re-created was a display case from An American in Paris, which she wanted to use to display the selection of perfumes and other French items she carries. “I made my cabinetmaker watch the movie,” she says, “and practically re-created it to a T.” Turner also fell in love with a set of doors she saw in Weekend at the Waldorf with Ginger Rogers and decided she wanted them for the entrance to Paris in a Cup. “I talked to my contractor, and he searched everywhere trying to find them, but he couldn’t. I was at the point of saying ‘forget the doors’ when he found someone to custom-make them for me. They even have the original hardware on them from the 1950s.”
After eight months of renovations, Paris in a Cup’s boutique opened in November of 2007, and the tea salon debuted in December. The theme of vintage Parisian glamour is expressed throughout, thanks to thoughtful details. The walls were warmed up with picture-frame moldings with damask wallpaper inside, the banquets were built into the wall to give them a vintage feel, and even the fabric used on the banquets have a fleur-de-lis embossed pattern. “We tried to stay with as much French theme as we could without being too overwhelming with it,” Turner says.
Another element she paid attention to were the chandeliers in the tea room, which she spent six months searching for.
“We looked high and low for chandeliers that gave us the feel we were looking for,” she says. “They aren’t a replica from any movie, but they are exactly what I thought they should look like from watching An American in Paris. It took us a long time to find them, but I knew they were it as soon as we saw them.”
Sakimoto’s photographs of Paris, which are hand-colored, hang on the walls throughout the tea room. The exterior has a French allure, with its black-and-white striped awnings and window designs of fleur-de-lis and the Eiffel tower, which were painted freehand by an artist.
Attention to Detail
In the boutique portion of Paris in a Cup, Turner stocks everything travelers would bring back from a trip to the City of Lights, including perfumes and ornate bottles, jewelry, gourmet chocolates and French souvenirs.
“We carry several different lines of perfume from Paris—including Rocher, Mistral and Urban Rituelle—and we have a line of perfume bottles made from Venetian glass. We also have a tea market where we sell two of three lines of French teas along with French sugars and candies.”
Those who’ve visited Paris in a Cup since it opened have been struck by the painstaking attention to detail shown throughout the establishment.
“I think that’s what people appreciate most,” Turner says. “They are just really blown away when they see the art nouveau lamps on the banquets and the doors. It’s a little piece of Paris right here.” Paris in a Cup, (714) 538-9411; www.parisinacup.com.
Instead of serving traditional English tea with a three-tier tea service, Paris in a Cup mixes in a little Parisian influence by presenting its tea in individual courses.
“In a lot of tea rooms, the server brings the food to the table with a hot pot of tea,” Turner says. “Our tea is plated and served in courses, no matter which tea you choose.”
Along with the homemade scones made from scratch every day by Turner’s sister, Valerie Berry, who runs Paris in a Cup’s kitchen, the menu boasts everything from tea sandwiches to seasonal salads. But this spot is most famous for its baked potato soup, which is delicately served on a tea and toast china set.
Their selection of desserts is also French-inspired and includes the French Charlotte, a pink sponge cake filled with fresh berries and almond mousse, and French macaroons made by a local French chef. Unlike coconut macaroons, French macaroons have a meringue outside made of almond flower and egg white with ganache-filling piped into the center. Those with a penchant for chocolate can opt for the chocolate reflection cake or the white chocolate cheesecake, but Turner says the award for best dessert on the menu goes to the lemon scone cake.
Paris in a Cup, (714) 538-9411; www.parisinacup.com.
By Melissa Quinlan • Photography by Jaimee iIagaki