While on my wanderings around Paris with a visiting friend, we came across a branch of this place:
Upon closer inspection, this appeared to be an Ikea-meets-H&M type place, combining sleek Nordic design with household essentials at low prices. Alongside the freezer boxes, stationery, card-making kits and towels was also an extensive snack section:
The Hema brand, which is Dutch in origin, prides itself on producing most of its snacks in house, and the closer you get to the Netherlands, the more Ikea-like the offerings come, with stores in Holland offering sausages, pies, and pigs in blankets. What’s shown on the website actually only shows a very small proportion of what is offered, to the extent that I would not recommend purchasing from the website at all, as its best products are to be found in store. Unfortunately for my readers from Anglophone countries, Hema is yet to make it to these places: besides the Netherlands, the only countries where its branches can be found are Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and France.
Its main focus food-wise is on sweet snacks, although it also sells bags of nuts and dried fruit, as well as crisps, tea, and coffee. While I can in no way claim to have tried all of their offerings, there is a good selection of meringues (star-shaped at Christmas!), chocolates (think discs studded with mini Smarties) and gingerbread (conveniently apportioned into ready-for-work-snacking bags). Next on my hit list is definitely the toffee waffles (pictured above on the left) that seem to be exact replicas of those sold at Starbucks (at a fraction of the price, naturally).
While I didn’t spot any branches of Hema on my recent trip to Germany (of which more later), I have already visited three branches in France: the huge branches in Levallois and near the Pompidou Centre, and the significantly smaller branch at St-Lazare station. These are already gaining a cult following in Paris, and despite a mere three visits, I have already been stopped on the street once by a Dutch expat whilst carrying a Hema bag (clearly the brand is much beloved by Netherlands residents also). There is sadly not yet a single whisper on the wind of any branches of Hema opening in the UK – but rest assured you’ll know of it as soon as I do.