Long-time friends Marion and Laura couldn’t have found a better spot for Myrthe, the half-cantine, half-épicerie they opened in December 2014. Sandwiched between specialty coffee shop Ten Belles and lush florist Bleuet Coquelicot, Myrthe is one of the Canal St-Martin’s newest tenants. And it’s a great fit for the area. In addition to serving sandwiches, salads, and gluten-free pastries on-site, Myrthe offers a selection of take-away apéro baskets that demand to be eaten canal-side. “The hardest part about opening a business in Paris is finding the right spot. We got really lucky with this one,” says Marion.
A former legal expert and French teacher, respectively, Marion and Laura had mulled over opening a business together since college. “Neither of us have a background in food,” says Marion. “But we both love good food and quality products, so we decided to focus on that.” An épicerie seemed the natural option to feature the best of French food, but they also imagined something a little cozier. That’s where the idea for a sandwich shop came in.
“We wanted to create a welcoming space where people would want to sit down and stay a while,” says Marion. Myrthe stretches two tiny floors: an open kitchen and floor-to-ceiling shelves gleaming with jars and bottles from around France take up the ground floor, while wood tables and wooly throw pillows make the kerchief-sized mezzanine a cozy spot to chat over a cup of Belleville Brûlerie coffee and nibble on a gluten-free lemon cake with a friend.
Downstairs, the épicerie stocks exclusively French products that meet a basic set of criteria: French origin, artisan-made, and no additives or preservatives. “We’re not after the organic label because it’s not a guarantee of quality,” explains Marion. “It costs the producers a lot to be able to put it on their products, and there are many artisans doing wonderful things that don’t necessarily have the organic label.” Classics like foie gras and Breton sea salt have a place on the shelves, but Marion and Laura’s less common finds are even more tempting: canned pollack with lime and ginger, lemon confit with Provençal blossoms, black truffle-infused honey, buckwheat biscuits, and mustard with sea beans — all of which can be paired with a bottle of locally brewed beer or natural wine.
The cold case is also a mouth-watering tour of French savoir-faire and top-quality sandwich fixings: Prince de Paris ham (the only jambon de Paris actually made in Paris), Bordier butter, and classic cheeses like Cantal. There’s also Bayonne ham, Bordier rice pudding, tomme de brebis, and even smoked tuna for the meat-averse. Gluten-free pastries are delivered fresh by L’Atelier des Lilas, a bakery started by two young women in the suburb of Les Lilas in 2014.
“More and more people are interested in quality products,” says Marion. “They might eat less because it’s a bit more expensive, but they’ll eat better.” At Myrthe there’s no shortage of quality products, so put it on your list the next time you want an original apéro offering, or even just a really good ham and cheese sandwich by the canal.
Myrthe – 10 rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010. Open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 8pm. Métro: Jacques Bonsergent or Goncourt.
- Enjoy the perfect weekend along the Canal St-Martin with our itinerary. And want to experience everything this area has to offer? Spend a week or two in our Canal St-Martin flat and live like a local in this quintessentially Parisian neighborhood.
- Learn more about Myrthe neighbor Ten Belles, an adorable café.
- For more ethically sourced and unique épiceries, check out two of our favorites: L’Épicerie Vegetale and Folks & Sparrows.
Written by Kate Robinson for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos by Isabel Miller-Bottome. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.