Jardin Botanico in Rio is beautiful. Even if you are not a garden type of person this one is quite stunning. Founded in 1808 the 140 hectare park lies in what is colloquially known as “the arm pit of Christ”, in the neighbourhood directly underneath the right arm of the Christ Redeemer statute. It contains 6,000 different species of plants and trees including 900 varieties of palm trees alone. It was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1992.
Right outside the front doors of the garden across from a little pond full of turtles sunning themselves on planks of wood, is La Bicyclette café. Walking into this little café is like stepping into Paris. It was such a strange feeling; I was confused when the waiters started speaking to us in Portuguese. Inside there are light brown wooden beams in the ceiling, wooden chairs and tables, white walls, industrial looking silver lighting and a beautiful glass display case showing off their impressive range of French breads. Outside the front door is a bicycle. Apparently, whenever possible, they deliver their bread by bicycle. How fantastic. La Bicyclette is a favourite with locals because of their excellent bread and incredible pain au chocolate (if I had known this when we were there I would have tried both).
We grab a seat at a large communal table with views from one side of the tip of the botanical garden and the other of the Christ Redeemer statue (at least the armpit). We are here for lunch which we decide will be a limeade and a quiche, both very good. I then get a hot chocolate. This is a French café and the French make one of if not the best hot chocolates I have ever tasted so if this is French inspired things are probably looking good. The menu says organic cocoa so I go ahead and order one of those.
I’m so sorry to say I didn’t finish it. I had two sips and had to put it aside. It was made with hot water and powder but there wasn’t nearly enough powder in it so it just tasted like hot water with a hint of chocolate in it. I generally don’t like hot chocolate in water but I try to stay open minded about it. My guess is that this one just didn’t have enough organic cocao in it. Such a shame.
Verdict: A great stop if visiting the Botanical Gardens. Please try the bread and pain au chocolate and let me know what you think since I didn’t have the chance to. The quiche was incredible as it seems is everything else that they do…except, malheuresement, the hot chocolate. La Bicyclette, r. Pacheco leao 320, jardim botanico, Rio de Janeiro