Fresh Air, Fresh Produce – The Best Outdoor Food Markets in Paris
By Ali Webb
Anyone who fancies themselves a serious foodie must visit one of the world’s top food destinations, Paris. And once in The City of Light, no trip is complete without a visit to one of the many outdoor markets in Paris where you can buy everything from a live parrot to a slice of creamy Camembert de Normandie or a vintage pair of leopard striped shoes. Paris has a market for everybody.
If you are looking to indulge all of your foodie fantasies, the flower and food markets are some of the best locations to feel like a local, even if just for an hour or two. In a country known for its love affair with food and wine, these markets play a critical role in daily life in France. What staples the French keep on hand at home are usually not more than enough to cover only a few days’ worth of meals. Shopping for provisions at a local indoor or outdoor market, bakery, or butcher is a key part of Parisians’ daily culinary adventure.
While supermarkets are now plentiful as well, many locals still shop for fresh produce, cheese, meat and fish in traditional food markets. Every neighborhood has its own market that serves as a critical source of fresh ingredients from local producers, and that is a spot to pick up a fresh baguette and a tarte aux fruits on the way home from work.
Where fresh is always first
Some of the bigger markets are worth planning a special visit to. Imagine a place where you can get lost following the smells of fresh baked bread, where wafts of rotisserie chicken complement the sights of the freshest fruits and vegetables. And the cheeses! With so many to choose from, who knows where to begin? Good luck choosing between the delightful snap of fresh goat chevre or the heart shaped Neufchâtel from cows’ milk. Hours will pass before you know it.
Here are a few of my favourite outdoor food markets in Paris:
Rue Montorgueil Market
The Rue Montorgueil market has the advantage of being open every day and features lots of bakeries, gourmet stores and fish stands in addition to restaurants and bars. It is a great place to pick up a few items and then relax with a glass of wine. Flower vendors have been a bright addition to the market. You’ll find the market at Avenue de la Porte de Montreuil, 75012.
Marché des Enfants Rouges
Named after a 16th century orphanage, Marché des Enfants Rouges has all of the wonderful fresh fruit, cheese and bread one expects in Paris, and it also offers a terrific selection of “foreign” food – Lebanese, African, and even Japanese. It is the oldest covered market in Paris, founded in 1628 and named after a hospice for orphans who wore red uniforms, the color indicative of having been donated by Christian charities. You’ll find the market in the Marais quartier, with a discreet entrance off Les Enfants Rouges. Come hungry, because many of the food stalls are places where you can actually eat a bit, as well as take home. You’ll find it at 39 rue de Bretagne, 75003 (closed Monday).
Located on the Left Bank, Marché Raspail is the quintessential French open-air market offering everything from cheese to fresh seafood and mounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. Operating since 1920, it now has roughly 40 fruit, vegetable, bakery and prepared food stalls. Located in the artistic part of the city, the prices can be upscale, too. The traditional market operates Tuesday and Friday, 7am-2.30pm; the organic market, Sunday, 9am-3pm. It’s located on Boulevard Raspail, 75006.
Marché Biologique des Batignolles
Speaking of organic, Marché Biologique des Batignolles is the first organic market in Paris, located in the 17th arrondissement. What makes this special is that you can often meet the producers and farmers themselves. Even though it is small in size compared to some of the other markets, this is where you will find the “difficult to find” ingredients for that special dish, as well as many unique market offerings. Try a vegan croissant with a shot of wheatgrass! Located at 34 Boulevard des Batignolles, 75008, and open Saturday from 9am to 3pm.
The best traditional outdoor markets in Paris will cause you to exclaim “Cherchez des fruits!” and vegetables.
Contributor Ali Webb took her first airplane trip when just six weeks old and has been traveling ever since. She is frequently published as The Indulgent Traveler and you can check out all her travels at her website, www.indulgenttraveler.com