Passionate About Paris: Meandering in the food markets

Food shopping in Paris really is memorable (for all the right reasons).  ‘But I’m on holiday’, I hear you cry.  Stay with me reader, I may just be able to convert you to the utter delights which await in Parisian street markets — as well as department store food halls.

The market is open!

The market is open!

Whether my recent blog post is tempting you to the delights of an apartment holiday, or you’re pondering a picnic, or maybe you just want to rub shoulders with Parisians and listen to the banter, a Parisian market is a true feast for the senses.

The French as we know place great importance on their food.  So you can be sure that your purchases will be both fresh and tasty, as they need to satisfy the most pernickety Parisian shopper.

You’ll find farmers, fishermen, bakers of artisanal breads and pastries along with specialist producers of everything from cheese to pâtes as well as ready prepared dishes.

Parisian markets have been part of Parisian life since the 1500s. A Parisian institution, many of the stallholders travel to Paris from all over France so a trip to a market provides a great opportunity to try regional specialities too.

Here are some of my favourites:

Rue Cler, 7th arrondissement.  You’ll find everything you could possibly want here, from prepared dishes, meats, cheeses, baked products, a chocolatier and a wine shop.  Dizzy with choice and assailed by so many aromas, you may just want to gratefully sink into a chair on the pavement café at Café du Marché while you ponder the options.  Also in rue Cler are two supermarkets, Franprix and Leader Price, good for basic groceries.   Rue Cler market is open daily except Monday; on Sundays it closes at 1 p.m. and gets really busy after 11 a.m. as the Parisians tumble out of church and scramble to buy their baguettes, wine and cheeses.

While in the area, don’t miss the outstanding Lenôtre for take-away gourmet foods, ready prepared dishes and patisseries in adjacent Avenue de la Motte Picquet, next to the métro station.  The Avenue leads to two lovely parks – great spots for a picnic from your purchases.

Also in the 7th arrondissement is the market on rue de Grenelle, open Wednesdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.  A true neighbourhood market and located between the Motte Picquet and the Dupleix  metro, the area isn’t pretty but you’ll finds a true slice of Parisian life – as well as excellent quality, prices and choice for a whole range of fresh foods.    Get there early before the hungry hordes.

The Saxe-Breteuil market has to be one of the prettiest, framed by the Eiffel Tower and the beautiful building of Les Invalides which houses Napoleon’s tomb. It   starts at Place de Breteuil and continues to Avenue de Segur. Here you’ll find many regional specialities as farmers and producers come from all over France to sell their goods. The market has a long-standing reputation for high quality and choice of organic foods and is open every Thursday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. (Saturdays are much busier).  Look out for the lady who travels up from Toulouse each week to sell her duck pâte, as well as the wide choice of cheeses on offer, not forgetting the merchant who sells olives prepared in 40 different kind ways, with oils and accompaniments.

For an indoor experience, head into a food hall such as that in Galeries Lafayette at 40 Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement.  Selling top-class groceries, sweetmeats and seasonal gifts, the displays are an experience even if you don’t want to buy.

Another is at La Grande Epicerie, 38 rue du Sevres and also inside Le Bon Marche at 24 rue du Sevres.

Bon appetit!

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