On a quiet Sunday afternoon in Paris, I stumbled upon Meert.
The windows were spilling over with delectable and beautifully packaged Valentine’s Day sweets, and I stopped momentarily to gaze through the window.
That’s when I saw the marshmallows.
I love marshmallows. These were big and fluffy and colored in shades of soft pastel, hinting to their flavors, which turned out to include orange tree flower, raspberry, violet, passion fruit, chocolate, pear, and blackcurrant. The guimauves, as they are called in French, were piled into footed glass jars, with pink ribbons tied around their lids.
Like sirens, the guimauves lured me in. Inside was an enchanting wonderland of confectionery, exquisitely displayed on shelves and counters. The air was scented with sugary sweetness.
Meert opened their first shop in Lille, France in 1761.
When the Count of Lille sang their praises, Meert became the meeting place for high society. In the 19th century Meert became the official chocolate supplier to the King of Belgium. They became famous for their gauffres (waffles), which were a favorite of President Charles DeGaulle, who grew up in Lille.
I was thankful that the the only other customer in the shop was monopolizing the salesman with a particularly complicated order, because it gave me time to linger and peruse.
There was marzipan, and sugared fruit, and caramels, and a seemingly infinite variety of chocolates. Slabs of white, milk, and dark chocolate dotted with hazelnuts sat next to a mallet on a wooden cutting board, waiting to be hammered into bite-size pieces.
Ancient copper cake molds looked like sculptures sitting on the top shelves.
Then it was my turn, and I put together two little gift boxes of chocolates. (Which, thankfully, required me to taste the options so I could decide what should be included.)
While the boxes were being wrapped, I nonchalantly asked if I could try the marshmallows. I chose violet and raspberry, and they were every bit as delicious as I knew they would be. I would even say, with absolute certainty, that they were the crème de la crème of all marshmallows.
I know that it’s a Valentine’s Day tradition to give flowers and chocolate. . .but give me marshmallows and I’ll be yours!
16 Rue Elzévir