There is great food in Paris. Scratch that, there is phenomenal food in Paris. It is, however, sometimes pricey (though not always – stay tuned for our Gourmet Cheap Eats Guide later in the month). One of the best ways to eat well and enjoy the beauty of Paris in the spring and summer is to visit one of the many outdoor Paris markets that the city of light offers in the mornings and afternoons, nearly every day of the week.
Each market has its own unique personality, and is best suited for different experiences. Here are our five favorites Paris markets (in no particular order):
1. Saxe-Bretueil (near the Eiffel Tower)
Where: Stretching along a quieter boulevard in the 7th arrondissement (between Place de Breteil and stretching out on Avenue de Segur), this market wins all beauty contests: it’s a ten-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, which you can see looming over you while you shop.
When: The market is open both Thursday and Saturday mornings, but for a good wander and more vendors, Saturday morning is simply ideal.
What: Choices are plentiful, with both raw and prepared foods, and prices are a little more reasonable. There are vendors selling classic roasted chickens and roasted potatoes, but you can also get a large box of couscous or tagine from the many North African vendors. Lebanese sweets are always a treat!
How: Bring a large bag or backpack, load up on both prepared and fresh goodies (like a half roasted chicken, cherry tomatoes, a hunk of goat cheese, pears, and a bottle of cider), and make the enjoyable trek over to the tower for a picnic with a view.
2. Marché Raspail (near the Luxembourg Gardens)
Where: Marché Raspail is in the 6th arrondissement (St Germain). It’s actually at the corner of Boulevard Raspail and Rue de Rennes, near métro: Rennes.
When: Every Sunday morning, until around 2pm.
What: I’m not even going to begin to defend the prices at this organic market. The produce is organic and expensive, mainly because it’s located down one of the very affluent residential streets of St Germain. Sure, you may pay more for a pear there than at any other market in Paris, but that damn pear is going to be perfect. This market plays hosts to farmers, cheese makers, bakers, butchers, and all sorts of handmade crafters. (A little advice: The ladies who make crepes on demand, filling them with sweet or savory goodies, do indeed make pretty decent crepes. They’re nothing like Breizh Cafe but desperate times…)
How: I visited nearly every week for a loaf of hearty bread, a heavy bar of demi-sel Bretagne butter, a couple sausages and a few veggies. In fact, those treats make for a perfect picnic in the Luxembourg Gardens, just a short walk from the market.
3. Belleville in Chinatown
Where: This vibrant market is smack dab in the middle of Chinatown, on the Boulevard de Belleville in the 11th arrondissement. The Belleville and Ménilmonant metro stations will deposit you at either end of the chaos.
When: Tuesday and Friday mornings until 1:30pm.
What: This is not your typical French market. Walking through the crowded and loud throng is reminiscent of being in a North African market, and the goods being sold range from a kilo of Moroccan tangerines for a euro to fabric and shoes to Lebanese pastries. Wandering is hard, and vendors will come to you, not the other way around, but it’s all part of the fun.
How: Come near closing time, when the chaos is really setting in, and enjoy the show. Pick up a few kilos of produce at a fraction of the price of other markets, try a specialty sweet, and get sucked into haggling with the friendly vendors.
4. Les Marché des Enfants Rouge (in the Marais, near Square du Temple)
Where: The oldest covered market in all of Paris, established in the 1600s, is located at 39 Rue de Bretagne in the Marais. The nearest metro is Temple or Filles du Calvaire.
When: It’s open every day except Mondays.
What: This market is a great combination of fresh food like fruit, vegetables, and cheese, along with takeaway and hot food to eat immediately. The stalls alternate between straight vendors and snappy restaurants who will make a beautiful antipasti plate, a quick risotto, or an eastern Mediterranean platter a la minute. Les Marché des Enfants Rouge is likely one of the cooler organic food markets, filling up with hipster-style tourists and locals on the weekends.
How: Be sure to make enough time to bop from stall to stall for each course, and once you’re full, take a walk around the nearby Square du Temple, a smallish, underrated park two blocks away where you can sit or explore the botanical gardens.
5. Marché Aligre (in the 12th arrondissement, around the corner from the Square Armand Trousseau)
Where: A true neighborhood market a worthwhile trek from the nearest metros at Ledru-Rollin or Faidherbe-Chaligny. But do make the trek, as one of the best dive bars in all of Paris is nearby, called Le Baron Rouge.
When: It’s open every day except Mondays from 9am-12:30pm. The covered market Marché Beauvau is just next door, and is open in the morning and in the afternoons from 4-7:30pm.
What: The Marché Aligre has ample fruit, vegetables, and flowers, while the indoor Marché Beauvau offers everything else to round out a proper Fresh meal like chicken, cheese, beef, and even beer. Prepare to be shopping with the locals during the week and jammed in with the tourists on the weekends.
How: Go in the early morning and stop at Blé Sucre for your pick of warm pastries, which you can enjoy with a coffee in the sweet Square Armand Trousseau. Once fueled up, shop for your groceries at the Marché Aligre. Don’t leave the neighborhood without a vin rouge, charcuterie, or perhaps a platter of oysters at Le Baron Rouge.
Photos taken and styled by Amy Feiereisel and Heidi/White Loft Studio (1,3, and 4).
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