La Tresorerie and Cafe Smorgas

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

The word trésorerie in French means “treasury.” But in spite of its vaguely unpleasant connotation with the place that receives your taxes, it can also mean “treasure trove,” such as in this case, to describe La Trésorerie.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

One of the nice things about living in an international city like Paris, is that you can visit “another country” by just taking a métro, bike, or a short walk, and find yourself in the middle of another culture. Behind the Gare du Nord are streets lined with Indian and Sri Lankan restaurants and épiceries (food shops), and the Goutte d’Or has a few lively markets, such as the one at Barbès, that caters to the African community.

Although it’s shrinking, you can have a taste of the Middle East on the rue des Rosiers in the Marais, or head to the 13ème for dim sum, and other Asian dishes. Just by the Opéra Garnier, you’ll often find me on the rue Saint-Anne eating ramen or okonomiyaki, a sort of grilled, savory Japanese pancake. (Good Korean food is still missing, though, and I suspect the spiciness will keep it from becoming more prevalent in Paris.)

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås
La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

Scandinavia has gotten a lot of press lately, especially the “new Nordic cuisine,” which is fine and all. But even though it’s the opposite of Korean food, at least in terms of spiciness, it’s not especially well-represented in Paris either. (And no, Ikea doesn’t count.) But as a longtime San Franciscan, I remember – and perhaps some of you do too – the Scandinavian Deli and food shop on Market Street in San Francisco that is really a relic from the past.

It was authentic and fun, a great place for a platter of meatballs or a ridiculously cheap meat-filled sandwich that the stern owner sliced himself. The red building with the huge sign (and the quaint Finnish sauna across the street, that become a hugely popular record store, which is now closed) were parts of San Francisco that disappeared in one of the many waves of gentrification that eventually brought coffee shops, gyms, and sunglass boutiques to the neighborhoods, in a sea of non-offensive beige and gray buildings.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

Of course, that’s happening in Paris, too. But it’s nice to see it not happening so quickly. (The current economy may have something to do with it.) While La Trésorerie is, indeed, surrounded by tax offices and social security bureaus, you won’t find any brusque bureaucrats in this light-filled bâtiment. Instead, you’ll find a super-friendly staff, which highlights the best of young French talent; energetic, engaged, helpful, happy to explain their stock, and best of all, welcomed me to take pictures when I asked.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

Unlike another place, on the other side of the Place de la République, that’s world-renowned for their housewares department (and lofty prices), everything at La Trésorerie are things that are utilitarian. Meaning things that you will actually use — and can afford.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås
La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

I was with my friend Jane, from La Cuisine cooking school, and we admired pretty much everything in the store. (Including the service.) I was enamored by their beautiful collection of kitchen knifes. Not fancy ones that you’ll have to spend your life worrying about, but ones you’ll actually feel fine about using every day.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

Classic French Sabatier knives, Spanish Pallarès knives, and a wonderful collection of cutlery for the table were offered at remarkably reasonable prices. (Most forks and knives were under €5 each.)

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

There are stacks of linens for the kitchen at around €13 a piece, as well as larger tablecloths.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås
La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

And upstairs is simple linen bedding, which is remarkably hard to find at reasonable prices in France. (Unless you scour the flea markets, like I do.)

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

There are beautiful French candles to light your way at home.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

For those looking for cast-iron skillets, they have Swedish versions here.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

As well as a well-edited (ie: the ones you’ll use) selection of French pastry pans.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

And large wooden boards for serving cheese, charcuterie and bread on, are reasonably priced (especially for Paris) from around €35 to €45, for the largest.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

The other wonderful thing about the shop is that you can have a Swedish lunch in their restaurant, Café Smorgås, which was our main reason for heading up there in the first place.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

But a wonderful thing about Paris is that you can happen across wonderful places just by poking around the streets in less-familiar neighborhoods. I used to do it all the time, and I need to keep reminding myself to do it more often.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

We pulled up seats to our table, which had a cunning cut-out on each side for hanging your handbag or backpack on. Another example of smart Scandinavian design. (Which multitasks as well, since it’s a good way to thwart both people who pilfer bags, and to remind you not to leave your bag behind when you leave.)

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

Lunch (€10-15) is a choice of smørrebrød, open-faced sandwiches on buttered, grainy, Nordic bread, which on the day we went, had everything from egg salad with salmon eggs, to avocados and eggs. With our sandwiches came what they called a taboulé nordique, made with a base of barley, topped with finely diced apples, pecans, dried fruits, and celery along with a spoonful of tangy yogurt dressing. Because this was obviously a healthy lunch, it only seemed right to drink apple cider from Normandy alongside. And because the Swedes take their coffee seriously, you can finish your lunch with a cup of coffee from Belleville Brûlerie. Once tanked up on coffee, you can then go finish your shopping.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås
11, rue du Château d’Eau (10th)
Tél: 01 40 40 20 46

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43 comments

  • October 9, 2014 10:51pm

    The falcon enamel-esque white cups with blue trims are adorable.

    The smorrebrot looks heavenly as well but it seems they like their yolks are very well done? Wonder if that is the traditional way to do it, but I would love my yolks a little softer set.

  • October 9, 2014 10:55pm

    I’ve been meaning to check out Café Smorgas for a while now, but I didn’t realize it was a houseware shop, too! I’m a recent convert to linen pillowcases, so I’m especially excited to hear about that. Thanks to you and Jane for the excellent sleuthing! ;)

  • October 9, 2014 11:16pm

    Those sandwiches look lovely! But your link to “another place” is broken.

  • Marilee
    October 9, 2014 11:43pm

    I’ll be in Paris next month and I’ve already marked La Tresorerie on my Paris Pratique. I love love love the white enamelware. Guess I now have a reason to visit Place de Republic; although it’s a long way from the Montparnasse area where I’ll be staying. The café looks lovely too.

  • Jess
    October 10, 2014 12:49am

    do they stock Opinel knives? If not can you suggest somewhere that I can find some? Thank you!

  • Jessica
    October 10, 2014 1:57am

    Those boiled eggs look pretty much as they do when served sliced on scandinavian sandwiches.

    Ronneby bruk makes good stuff. The new ones are pretty easy maintenance as well.

    I hope you indulged in a cinnamon bun :)

  • Amy -Hunting Valley, Ohio
    October 10, 2014 2:50am

    I loved this post. You made me feel as though I got to go shopping and had lunch with you. You have a great way of bringing your experiences to life for the reader. Thanks for letting me join you!

  • johanna
    October 10, 2014 4:22am

    wow–love this post; you make me want to be in that shop! (and i’m scandinavian, so have these types of food at home anyway!)
    feels very right for the coming season–homey and warm.
    thank you-
    jg

  • johanna
    October 10, 2014 4:24am

    by the way, what IS a good, inexpensive, comfortable, paring knife/ brand to purchase in the USA?
    wooden handle only, if that’s possible-

    thanks!

  • Alexis
    October 10, 2014 8:02am

    Hi there – can’t wait to visit this boutique, thanks for the info!
    About Korean restaurants in Paris, have you tried Oh! Chapeau in the 5th? Run by a Korean couple, limited French, very good cuisine, minimaliste décor, it is really just a very typical French café with the long comptoir covered with plants. But definitely worth the déplacement, in my opinion, as far as Korean restaurants go in Paris. Cheers!

  • October 10, 2014 10:44am

    Hi David!
    Thanks a lot for this beautiful article!
    Have a wonderful day.
    The La Trésorerie/ Café Smörgås- team

  • October 10, 2014 1:10pm

    What an utterly beautiful shop! I would go so mad in here and have no money left by the time I left here!

    FoodNerd x

  • October 10, 2014 1:44pm
    David Lebovitz

    Annabel: Thanks – it’s fixed!

    Lino: You have a lovely shop, and the staff was great. We were delighted to find some “treasures” in Paris.

    johanna: Best to go to a cookware shop and hold and “feel” the knives, because what one person might like, another won’t. For inexpensive knives with wood handles, the Victorinox ones are quite good. (I’ve had a few of them for decades, and they’re still holding up well.)

    Marilee: That area is actually one of the rather fun parts of Paris (at least in my opinion…) It’s close to the Upper Marais, and places like Caractère de Cochon, as well as HolyBelly, Du Pain et des Idées, and the “trendy” Canal Saint-Martin that’s a lovely place to stroll in nice weather. If you’re up for a little adventure, the rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis is a very ethnically diverse street, that’s rapidly gentrifying. Just off it is the Passage Brady filled with Indian restaurants, and Julhès, one of the best épiceries in Paris. Daily Syrien (#55) has wonderful falafel sandwiches, too!

  • George
    October 10, 2014 4:03pm

    Nice shop. Any idea who make the knife with the cutout handle?

  • Deborah
    October 10, 2014 5:07pm

    I would love to see a photo of tables with cut-outs for hanging one’s bag. Aren’t the Scandanavians the most wonderful designers…

  • Kathleen
    October 10, 2014 5:10pm

    David, even though I may never get to France to shop at the stores and eat at the restaurants you review, I am so grateful for your vibrant photos and the enthusiasm and humor in your writings. Your posts always provide a bright spot in my day. Muchas gracias!

  • I have those peelers! They really last. I am craving the gorgeous taupe kitchen linens you have photographed above. Some of my best house buys have been in good old Monoprix too. Who needs Merci Paris?

    I went to Jai Detou after reading about it in ‘A Sweet Life’- the gustatory/culinary mecca for cooks. Loved it and now I have some more suggestions for my next trip. Thank you David.

  • October 10, 2014 5:34pm

    Are you sure about the translation of La Trésorerie? I think it means “Chef’s Crack House”. Addicts beware!

  • October 10, 2014 5:38pm

    And another pin goes in my Paris map. I’m going for the first time this fall for a few days and have been marking attractions, food, shops, anything that look interesting on a map so when we’re wandering around looking for something to do or eat, I have this as a resource (yes, I’m a planner). We’re staying in Marais as well, though closer to the Place des Vosges, which I’m excited about as it seems pretty central to most of my map at this point.

    Somehow all the food and most of the shopping (most of which is food-related) has turned my map into “David Lebovitz’s in Abstentia Tour of Paris” and my friend has downloaded your app. I think we’ll have a pretty tasty time :-)

  • October 10, 2014 5:42pm

    Love the knives and linens etc…wish I was there to shop.

  • October 10, 2014 5:45pm

    A great “astuce” for Paris shopping! Thanks for this post!

  • October 10, 2014 6:09pm

    David; what a fresh, delightful and beautiful post this is – I want everything… :)
    May I suggest a tiny correction? You gave a broken link and a wrong name for the Swiss knives Victorinox (Victor & Inox).
    Thank you for the ‘do lead us into temptation’ upload!

  • Marshall
    October 10, 2014 6:23pm

    Wish I could find the Spanish Pallarès knives in the USA. There is one website that carries them and occasionally you find the kitchen knife you are holding in a picture…but way too expensive.

    I first learned of the Pallarès kitchen knife on Kate Hill’s blog…and she seemed impressed with them

  • Peter Longenecker
    October 10, 2014 7:27pm

    Ah, yes, memories of the Scandinavian Deli on Upper Market. Used to go to it regularly in the ’70s & ’80s — on Thursday for the Thursday lunch special (never varied), Split Pea Soup (with a big dollop of Swedish mustard put in the bowl to begin with) and Swedish Pancakes with lingonberries and whipped cream. The owner sure was a crusty gent, but the food was just as soul-satisfying as could be.

  • suedoise
    October 10, 2014 7:38pm

    Admiring your spelling I must however correct the spelling of the Danish speciality open sandwich “smörrebröd” (no “t” at the end), Bröd means bread, smör means butter.
    Smörgås is Swedish for an open sandwich. However Danes are far superior in the art.
    Sweden has cinnamon buns. You will find them fresh and homemade
    in Paris at the coffee house of the adorable Institut Suédois on 11 rue Payenne just behind the Paris city museum /musée Carnavalet/ in turn just by the place des Vosges in the Marais.

  • October 10, 2014 9:47pm
    David Lebovitz

    Kiki: Thanks for the brand-name tip-off. The link I posted works for me, and oddly, the one you’d left didn’t. (Not sure why…one of those internet quirks?) Anyhow, thanks for letting me know.

    suedoise: Interestingly, they call them smorgås on their website, although on the menu, they use the French name and call them tartines. Thanks!

  • Lino Landau
    October 10, 2014 10:02pm

    George, the cutout handle knife is made by an italien brand by the name of “kn industrie”.
    Thanks again David! It was nice to meet you!
    kind regards
    Lino

  • Paula Pothier
    October 10, 2014 10:04pm

    I come to Paris several times a year for business, which is great, however we are forced to stay out in La Defence. Any tips on good places to eat (other than the mall stuff) that might be in a neighborhood in the area?? Most of the time we jump on the Metro and head into the city, but sometimes the jet lag just gets you down! Thanks for any comments or help.

  • E
    October 10, 2014 11:39pm

    I recently moved to the 15th, and in the streets around the dupleix/charles michel/motte picquet area are a TON of korean restaurants. I recently chose one at random based on it being filled with all korean people, and it was both delicious and definitely spicy! (and, bonus, cheap)
    I should try and dig up the name, but it’s worth a look, I’m sure there’s at least one you’d like around here :)

  • naomi
    October 11, 2014 12:32am

    I want to see more of the apron the man in photo five has – were those at the shop too?

  • Fiona
    October 11, 2014 1:52am

    Ah, this is the shop that I walked past with my husband a few months ago, but we didn’t go in! We’d staged a full attack on Merci the day before; we could tell just from looking through the windows that it was a shopping paradise, and we (and our budget) wouldn’t be safe. Next time!

  • Bonnie
    October 11, 2014 4:41am

    It made me laugh, and did I get this right, if I add barley to my Waldorf salad, I get tabouli nordique?
    Well, no matter the name, it all looks delicious!

  • CW
    October 11, 2014 9:07am

    Thanks for the post David! Just a small error in spelling, the quartier africaine is Goutte d’or not ‘Gout’. Funny how just a couple of letters significantly change the meaning, isn’t it?

  • Susan
    October 11, 2014 3:27pm

    I love reading your newsletters mainly because I miss Paris so very much and you bring her to me in a most ‘goose pimple’ way !

    Thank you. Susan

  • Barbara Hughes
    October 11, 2014 8:14pm

    Quick question: Can I double the recipe for your dulce de leche brownies? Any measurements that can’t simply be doubled?

    Many thanks,

    Barbara

  • October 11, 2014 11:27pm

    How well we remember The Scandinavian Deli on Market Street. We would go to purchase the homemade swedish sausage, liver pate’ and the very special cured ham, prepared by the Danish owner before Christmas every year. He might have been a “crusty” and a bit grumpy man, but he always treated the children to a free drink and some goodies, remembering their names! And ooooh, those Roast Pork Sandwiches!

  • October 13, 2014 10:23am

    Aaaaah – my new favourite shop in the world!! We stayed in the Hotel Aida Marais 3 weeks ago and this was a few doors down from us, I wandered in one afternoon and was absolutely smitten from the word go. I recognised those colourful handles in the jars instantly! It is prop heaven, and the people are SO nice. I bought that red exact and brown cloth swatch second from the bottom in your final pic – and a LOT of other stuff. Great to see you love the place as much as I do!

  • ron shapley(NYC)
    October 14, 2014 1:05am

    Church of Sweden, 5 East 48th Street

  • October 14, 2014 1:11pm

    Definitely getting there next time I’m in Paris: I love such classic, practical housewares.

  • Carol Shinker
    October 17, 2014 3:40am

    Hi David – as always, a great read here on your blog. Have enjoyed your work since I met you at that great little restaurant on Ile St Louis back in 2007! You sat next to me and coveted my dessert (a terribly dark slice of chocolate tart)… and we had a nice conversation. I was from San Fran then but now live in Oz.
    I remember well Finnila’s Sauna on Market. What a great place!! Great place to go after a grateful dead show. Wish they hadn’t taken it down for $$. It was SOOOOO S.F.
    Really enjoy your books and use them as much as I can. It was YOUR fault that I got an ice cream maker…..

  • Cyndy
    October 20, 2014 4:22am

    David, I would love to take my daughter-in-law here when we all come next June. One question: do they mind if you touch the merchandise in the store? Or is it look, don’t touch, and then tell them if you want something?

    Sometimes the smaller shops prefer the latter, so I would let my DIL know. She’s never been to Paris.

    • October 20, 2014 9:30am
      David Lebovitz

      The staff is super-nice and you’d be welcome to touch anything. The knives are kept under glass, but they’d happily open the case to show them to anyone. At least they did for us!

  • October 20, 2014 9:33am

    Gorgeous store looking forward to visiting it on my next trip to Paris

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