There is no secret that food markets of the French capital have long been favorite
“locations” for photographers and tourists. Vegetables and fruit are perfectly
lined in a row, prices and names of products are written on the little black tablets (in French, even the word “potato” sounds nice, how can one resist ?). Vendors are friendly, smells are delicious, in general, these markets are worth skipping a restaurant a couple of times.
Why tourists go to the French market and what can they find interesting there?
FRIEND DAIRYMAN, FRIEND BUTCHER
What you can notice at first sight (even if you don’t know French) – a friendly chat between salesmen and buyers. Most of French people have their dairyman friend, a butcher friend, or favourite cheese shop. And they are sometimes ready to queue for half an hour in order to get three tomatos for lunch salad at this particular stand. When ordering, you don’t say: “I would like those softer” or “These tougher,” you say, “I need one today for dinner and two for tomorrow’s lunch,” after these words, the salesman will carefully probe several vegetables and choose the three ideal ones for your case. Therefore, even if other stands will be less crowded and quality of products – identical, you will still remain waiting. Loyalty in this regard matters first of all.
There is a considerable adventage in this approach – the risk to buy not fresh product is minimum. After all, for a good friend – only the best.
LUNCH AT THE COUNTER
What if after buying beautiful products and smelling delicious cheeses, you will no longer feel the strength to get home and cook something? Then the best option for you – Marché des Enfants Rouges. It is a 10-minute walk from the famous Centre Georges Pompidou (modern and contemporary art museum) and 5 minutes walk from the Picasso Museum. It is one of the oldest covered markets in Paris (nearly 400 years) and it has the status of “Historic Monument”. There is a French and Moroccan cuisine, and Paris fashionistas love to go there for week-end brunches, and then stroll in the most fashionable area of Paris – Le Marais. The price of products are 20 percent higher than average markets. But, if you consider Marché des Enfants Rouges, both as sight worth seeing and a piece of the history of Paris, and not as market in the classic sense, it becomes not so important. So, if you are not too busy and you’re looking for an interesting place to eat and dive into local environment of the parisian street style – you should come over.
BEAUTIFUL AND HEALTHY
If “organic” trend for you is not thoughtless fashion, but lifestyle – you will find at least three organic markets in Paris. On the top of the list is of the most beloved by Parisians – Marché Raspail (10 minutes walk from Luxembourg Garden). Here you can not only make necessary grocery, but also eat. And absolutely all products – from meat to vegetarian paella – will be 100% organic. Two other locations – Marché des Batignolles and Marché Brancusi – not as popular as the previous market, but not less ecofriendly though. Here you can find a big variety of mushrooms – a good find for vegetarians, a lot of greens, vegetables and everything necessary for a healthy lifestyle.
FORGET MAGNETS – BUY DELICIOUS SOUVENIRS
We are pleased that the tradition to bring from Paris 10 magnets and 5 keyrings with Eiffel tower as souvenirs is slowly passing away. People understand that the best souvenir – it is something reflecting traditions and specialities of the country. We picked up a few “souvenirs”, which will literally make you feel the taste of France.
Cheese. You know that buying cheese is a must without us. BUT. When you have a long flight plus two hours on the way to/from the airport ahead, and cheese all this time will be left in a warm and cozy place among your trousers and dresses, at least, what you get at the end – it is not very pleasant smell, and the maximum – tainted cheese spoiled belongings.
What to do? Correct packaging. Where? Almost all specialized cheese shops have such a service, as hermetic packing, but you have to ask the sales assistant for it. They don’t offer this service spontaneously. And now there is a possibility of a hermetic packing at the markets. We did not explore all of them, but know that Popincourt market near Oberkampf metro station, definitely has one. This market is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 7am to 1pm where for 2 € you can pack all the cheeses you buy and voilà – your clothes, your nose, and relatives who are not used to the flavors of French delights will be rescued.
… And saucisson. Falling under the charm of cheese shops, people often forget about french sausage. And very much in vain. In France almost each region has its kind of sausage. There is saucisson from Arles, from Lyon, there is a variety of sausages with nuts, berries or classic ones. It is better to buy them, of course, on the market, rather than in a supermarket, and just bring as a souvenir traditional tandem cheese + saucisson – your friends and family will be delighted.
Jam for cheese. In typical french food menu cheese plate is in the “deserts” and is usually served with a special jam. The web site ‘Les produits laitiers’ (dairy products) offers a great list of classic cheese and jam combinations:
• Comté (cheese made of unpasteurized cow’s milk) should be best combined with chestnut jam.
• Roquefort (blue cheese of sheep’s milk with mold) – with pear jam.
• Munster (orange cheese with a pungent odor made of cow’s milk) tastes good with plum jam.
• Camembert (soft cheese made of cow’s milk) – with apple jelly.
• And the goat cheese – jam made of green tomatoes and figs.
And if you have time and opportunity – experiment. You might find the ideal combination for you.
Caramel with salted butter. This delight comes from the French Brittany region. For those who can’t decide whether they prefer sweet or salty – is the perfect gift. Caramel is used to pour over pancakes with ice cream or you can simply eat it with a spoon. If you like it – you can learn how to cook it yourself, here is the recipe from curly Frenchman and the legendary Jamie Oliver: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acYlitB1LH4
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
After reading this article, you might get the impression that parisian market – is quiet and tranquil oasis of delights, but it’s not true. Paris markets are very noisy, especially in the last hour before closing. Some salesmen strive to quickly sell products that tomorrow will be too ripe and attract buyers shouting “1 euro! 1 euro!” So, for one euro you can buy three avocado, 1 kilo of mandarines, or a pack of strawberries in season. And in general, if you want to save money – go to the market 30 minutes before closing. Prices can get lower by 50 percent and you can make plenty of good deals.
Not everyone is shouting on the French market, so you can choose from – a fun, cheap, but noisy, or traditional, quietl market but without discounts. In any case, a visit of the Paris market – it’s an interesting experience, first of all cultural. Here you will definitely learn much more about the traditional lifestyle of Paris than near the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysées.
Full list of product markets:
Addresses of organic markets:
Marché Raspail. Boulevard Raspail, VI district, metro Rennes or Sèvres-Babylone. Sunday, 9:00 – 14:00
Marché des Batignolles, Boulevard des Batignolles. Subway Rome or Place-Clichy. Saturday, 9:00 – 14:00
Marché Brancusi. Place Brancusi, XIVe. Metro Gaîté.
Saturday, 9:00 – 13:00
Market, where you can get your cheese hermetically packed:
Bd Richard-Lenoir 75011 Paris
Between streets Oberkampf and Jean-Pierre Timbaud
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