Mar 18th, 2022, 05:58 PM

Mexicoeur: A Mexican Corazon in Paris

By Mayra Lopez-Rocha
Discover the vibrant and authentic Mexican boutique tucked away in the second arrondissement.

Tucked away in the 2nd arrondissement is a vibrant, colorful boutique that specializes in Mexican goods called Mexicoeur. “I feel like the boutique is a fountain of joy,” says owner Marimar Humbert-Droz. “It’s everything that is in my Mexican heart and what I would like to share with people here.” That delight is clearly reflected throughout the store. Pink, yellow and lavender colored papel picado flutter from the ceiling, baskets of Mexican candy lay next to the register and artisanal calaveras sit posed on shelve.

Humbert-Droz and her husband, Daniel, opened the shop in October 2019. They focus on selling Mexican products that are typically not found in France such as salsas, tortillas, cheeses, candies, chips, beers, and mezcal. During seasonal periods, they sell fresh produce like tomatillos, various chiles and cactus. Mexicoeur also sells authentic tamales made here in Paris, by Mexican chef Mercedes Ahumada. According to Humbert-Droz, every item from the store is imported from Mexico and shipped to Paris. More delicate items, such as decorations and clothing are flown overseas. “We treat them with a lot of care so that they arrive in the best possible state.”

Despite the difference between the two cultures, the shop often sees French customers. Many have lived in Mexico for work or have visited and fallen in love with the culture. “It’s a great satisfaction for me to have people come here and say, 'It's been so long since I have eaten this,'" she says. “Something that gives me a lot of tenderness is the children whose parents come and tell me that they are buying the candies for their kids because it’s what they loved in Mexico.”

Humbert-Droz is a proud born and raised chilanga (someone from Mexico City), although her family roots hail from the state of Hidalgo. She and her husband met while he was working abroad in Mexico. After their engagement, she moved to Paris with him, and they married in France. She has been living in Paris for six years now. One of her motivations to open a Mexican store in France was a nostalgia for the food from her homeland. She was not able to find much when she arrived here, so she became determined to find her own solution. She also says that she wanted to demonstrate to Parisians what authentic Mexican cuisine is. “I wouldn’t sell anything in my shop that I wouldn’t have in my own kitchen.”

Although there are challenges when moving to a country with a different culture from your own, Humbert-Droz has found common interests. “The truth is that one of the common denominators that we have with the French is a devotion to food. It’s a very different cuisine, but there is a true devotion to eating good.” She finds that her French customers are adventurous with the food. “They are not fond of spicy, but they are very open to new flavors and textures.” She did share that they are typically intimidated by the thorny cactus, which needs to be de-spiked before cooking.

Another motivation behind her shop stems from her adoration for her family. “I try to project all the love that my family gave me,” she says. “It feels like I am trying to personify my grandmother through the boutique – the love and tenderness that she shared through cooking.” She goes on, “for us Latinos, cooking is a common expression of love. I adore my grandmother and she is a woman of colors, textures, and flavors.” Something that is important to her is the relationship that she has with the artisanal artists who supply clothing, accessories, and decorations for Mexicoeur. “I believe it is a debt that we owe to them – to the artists and indigenous groups of our country, she says. “I work directly with the artisans and their intermediaries.” She hopes to uplift them by supporting them in expanding to a different market abroad.

Her love for her country and devotion to pouring that into the boutique is reflected in the smallest details, even in the logo for Mexicoeur. She worked with a Mexican designer to come up with the concept of a heart, comprised of all the things that Humbert-Droz finds special to her. While from afar, the logo looks like a simple heart, if you look closely, you see items such as a lucha libre wrestling mask, a lele doll, sugar skulls and even a molcajete. From there, the name Mexicoeur was born. “My Mexican heart,” she explains.

When asked about how she has connected with other Mexicans here in Paris, she shares that often it is through word of mouth that she finds authentic places. “You chat with people and ask what restaurants are recommended and which aren’t. Little by little you start to put together a little basket of options.” Although she knows it is difficult it is to navigate France, she does have hopes for the Mexican population here in Paris, which she notes is dispersed in pockets throughout the city. “There is a need for the Latino community to have a stronger presence in Paris, because we are so many here,” she says. “[We] have a lot to offer in terms of social, cultural, artistic, and intellectual life in France.”

At the end of the day, what she wants people to experience when they come to Mexicoeur is the joy, love, cuisine, and culture of a country that she adores and is proud to be from. “I try to make it the Mexico that I know that I see through my own eyes, which is a Mexico of flavor, of color, texture and light.” She continues, “And that the people who come here will feel embraced and welcome in a place where we are always smiling.”

Mexicoeur is located at 40 rue de Caire. They are open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 am – 7pm. You can follow them on Instagram and Facebook.