Two years had gone by since my first visit to Early June, a buvette, a few steps away from the Canal Saint-Martin, in the 10th arrondissement of Paris. 

“You’re back,” exclaimed Camille Machet, co-founder, together with her partner in life Victor Vautier, when I walked through the door for the second time.

I had legged it across town, fearful that their no-booking policy would mean I would miss out on a place. Luckily they found me a niche at the bar – next door to where I had sat two years before.  

Early June serves natural wines and small plates of food prepared by ‘travellingchefs in a stripped-down space that hums with joyful vibes and the beat of happy music, and where Camille, formerly of Chanel, is the hostess par excellence

On my first visit the pop-up chef was Angelo Koyfalas of Brosetti Trattoria in Bergamo, Lombardy.  

This time round it was the turn of Adam Purcell, an Irish chef now living in Paris. His menu did not disappoint. As recommended by the chef, I went for:

  • Baked St Jacques in their shell & yuzu butter ‘maître d’hotel’
  • Banka (from the Basque country) trout tartare, kaffir lime & pickled blue meat radish
  • Irish ‘boxty’ pancake, wild mushrooms & melted mimolette (a red cheese produced around Lille)

The ‘street’ neighbourhood of Canal Saint-Martin

Canal Saint-Martin was built by Napoleon I to connect the Canal de l’Ourcq with the river Seine.  This is the same Napoleon as in the epic release by Ridley Scott. Much of the canal is underground, but in the 10th and 11th arrondissement, it opens to the sky. 

Each time I’m in Paris I feel the pull towards this ‘street’ neighbourhood – a ’street’ neighbourhood is “small scale in the sense that the lengths of fibres making up a rope are small scale”, writes Jane Jacobs, author of the seminal book about cities, The Death & Life of Great American Cities

These neighbourhoods have no beginnings, no ends, and they overlap and interweave with adjoining neighbourhoods. It is such neighbourhoods that will save us from the ‘Great Blight of Dullness’, she continues. 

 My Canal Sant-Martin stretches down to the Avenue de la Republique, west to republicque square and then east half way up the hill to Belleville.  

Here are my other favourite places around Canal Saint-Martin:

Breakfast pastries & coffee 

Du Pain et Des Idées in the rue Yves Toudic makes the best croissant and pastries in the world

I have been known to walk from the 2nd arrondissement to the 10th and then go to work in the 8th, all for the sake of one of their croissants. 

Their bread is also excellent.  The secret, says founder Christophe Vasseur, is a two-day fermentation (to reduce sugar levels), a dark crust and a dense consistency (less yeast). 

For coffee, I prefer to go a few doors down to Bonjour Jacob. Here the vibe is chilled. It’s a concept store, with coffee, books, magazines, and vinyls. They’ve also just opened in the 6th, but the vibe is always better in the 10th. 

Tawlet for takeaway lunch

Tawlet means ‘table’ in Arabic. Founder Kamal Mouzawak is the person behind Souk el-Tayeb, a social enterprise in Lebanon preserving the food traditions and culture of a sustainable agriculture. 

In a country as divided as Lebanon, nothing can bring people together as much as the land and food,” he said at the Monocle Quality of Life Conference in Paris in 2022. 

For each day of the week, the cuisine comes from a different region in Lebanon. The first time I was there, it was the day of the Bekaa Valley, home to Lebanon’s vineyards, and of fattet batenjan, a traditional aubergine dish with or without meat, and a salad.  The atmosphere was fun, buzzing and colourful. 

Returning in March 2024, on a Friday lunchtime, and the restaurant was near empty – the buzz had popped but the food was still good… hence why I would suggest a takeaway, and to then sit by the canal.

TIP: Seek out the Lebanese 7 spice mix in the restaurant store. It was created by Kamal with Olivier Roellinger of Epices Roellinger.  The seven spices are: Jamaican pepper, black pepper, clove, nutmeg, cardamon, cinnamon & ginger

A 5-course tasting menu at Géosmine

I reserved for lunch at Géosmine when I was in Paris in December 2023 – having been tipped off that it was heading for a Michelin star.

First of the five dishes was pumpkin gnocci with mussels and cedron. Then came a leek cooked to perfection with  watercress coulis. No 3 dish was coquille Saint-Jacques

Desserts were sorrel ice cream on a tarragon crumble and topped with grilled oakleaf salad leaves. Last up was a pure chocolate fondant delight.  

I was slightly set back by the Euros98 bill for the five courses and a glass of wine, but this was only Euros8 less than the French onion soup and sole with potato purée (and a very good glass of Bordeaux) at L’Escargot de Montreuil in the 2nd arrondissement.  

But I was even more taken back when the bill arrived on my table before I had asked for at, and as soon as I had finished eating. Géosmine just lost a few Brownie points, but I would still return, if I were invited. 

On the road to Belleville: Vantre for dinner 

 Vantre has a small restaurant vibe and some great wines. A real find. The atmosphere is détendu and jovial, as I bantered with Canadian-born co-founder Marco Pelletier, who was head sommelier at Taillevent and at 3-Michelin star Epicure at the Hotel Bristol. The discussion was about the difference between French and Japanese food culture.  I said not much. He said a lot.

The food was sublime, and not small plates: 

  •  Hand-dived sea urchins from Brittany with a cacao and chestnut mousse
  • Wood pigeon & foie gras pie, with chanterelle mushrooms, watercress ‘chlorophyl’, confit wood pigeon thigh, and a salmis sauce 
  • A glass of red Saumur by Jonathan Maunoury

Other places not to miss around Canal Saint-Martin

  • The Yves Delorme outlet store for some of the best bedlinen, nightwear and towels in the world at excellent prices.
  • Crossing one of the six arched pedestrian bridges over the canal. As humans, we naturally like to climb to a vantage point and then look out across the landscape.
  • The Villemin Garden – a well-cared for green space with trees and plants is always a treasure in a neighbourhood. 

Here’s the map of my favourite places in Paris.

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