When I travel, one of the first things I look up in any guidebook (or increasingly, online) is where to find the closest market. You can really tell a lot about a country and its culture by observing the way its people eat and shop. One of my favourite places to do this kind of “action research” is Paris, where I have previously lived, and to which I return as often as I can. Some of the greatest markets in the world are to be found in the City of Light. Here are some of my favourites.
Rue Montorgueil, between rue de Turbigo and the rue Réaumur, 75002 Paris
Hours: Daily, except Sunday afternoon and Mondays, though some stores, bars/cafés and restaurants remain open; many stores closed between noon and 2 pm/3 pm
Métro Etienne Marcel, Les Halles or Sentier
I used to do most of my shopping at Marché Montorgueil because that’s where I lived; in fact, I always stay in that area when I return. While it used to be known only to locals, it’s now firmly ensconced on the Paris foodie-tourist trail. Considering its admittedly deserved fame, I still think the market has a lot of unassuming charm. Rue Montorgueil contains everything from Paris’s oldest pâtisserie to a horsemeat butcher and an old-fashioned hardware store. A pedestrianized street, it plays host to a lovely mix of locals doing their shopping and tourists in awe of the wonderful array of fresh meats, seafood and produce available on a daily basis.
Marché Saint Eustache-Les Halles
Rue Montmartre, between Rue Rambuteau and Rue du Jour, 75001, Paris
Hours: Thursday, 12.30 pm - 8.30 pm; Sunday 7 am – 3 pm
Métro: Les Halles/Étienne Marcel
Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Montorgueil, on the rue du Louvre and behind the St Eustache church, you’ll find the Marché Saint Eustache-Les Halles. A scene that's even more local than Montorgueil, this market closes down the street on Thursday afternoons and Sunday mornings. You can buy fruit and veggies here, as well as fish, meat, cheeses and a small selection of housewares, crafts and even clothes. There is a wonderful roasted chicken vendor at the south end of the market, right next to St Eustache — highly recommended for a quick, tasty dinner.
rue des Martyrs
Between rue St Lazare and Blvd de Clichy, 75009, Paris
Hours: Daily (note: these are permanent food stores, as opposed to stalls; hours vary)
During a recent visit to Paris, I discovered a market street similar to Montorgueil, in that it takes place along a street, with stores spilling out their wares onto the footpath. This rue commercante is found on the rue des Martyrs, in the 9th arrondissement, just south of Sacré-Cœur. With a large selection of food, including (but not limited to) fresh fish, gorgeous pastries and breads, slabs of butter purchased by weight, “donut” (flat) peaches and cheeses that can be smelled from block away, this is a true destination market for food-loving travellers and locals alike.
Boulevard Richard Lenoir, between Rue Amelot and Rue St-Sabin, 75011
Hours: Thursday 7 am - 2.30 pm; Sunday 7 am – 3 pm
Métro: Bastille, or Bréguet Sabin
The market where you’ll likely see the most tourists gawking at the beautiful food, drinks and clothes on sale is the sizeable Marché Bastille. With everything from the ultimate in French fast food — le poulet rôti (roast chicken) — to funky shopping trolleys and early morning wine tastings (pictured, top of post) — after all, you need to know how it tastes before you buy, non? — this market truly offers something for everyone. Go early to beat the inevitable crowds, but take some time to sit and observe. People-watching is the best part of any market, wherever you are!
Rue d’Aligre, Between rue du Faubourg St Antoine and Boulevard Diderot, 75012 Paris
Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 7.30 am - 1.30 pm; Saturday and Sunday 7 am - 2.30 pm
Métro: Ledru Rollin
When I was based in Paris, some of my friends lived next door to the Marché d’Aligre, a little further east than the Place de la Bastille. During my recent visit, I was pleased to find that little had changed, despite many years having passed. Gorgeous produce, cheeses, meat and seafood share stall space with a fairly large brocante (bric-a-brac) market in the Place d’Aligre. There is an undeniable feeling of timelessness here, as gentlemen “of a certain age” (as the French like to say) gather on nearby benches for their weekly catch-up.
There is also a covered market at place d’Aligre: Beauvau - well worth the visit.
Beauvau Covered Market
Place d’Aligre, Between rue du Faubourg St Antoine and Boulevard Diderot, 75012 Paris
Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 9 am – 1 pm and 4 pm - 7.30 pm; Saturday, 9 am – 1 pm and 3.30 pm - 7.30 pm; Sunday, 9 am - 1.30 pm
Métro: Ledru Rollin
This is by no means an exhaustive list of Paris food markets, but they are some of my favourites and I can happily vouch for their quality. You can find a much more complete listing here in English and ici en français.
Mardi Michels is a full-time French teacher and part-time writer, cook, baker, photographer and traveller. She blogs at eat. live. travel. write., where she chronicles her culinary adventures near and far. Join her this summer in Paris with Le Dolci and La Cuisine Paris for a culinary tour of the city of light
Posted: Thu, Jun 28 2012
by Mardi Michels