Food markets in Paris
Fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese and more from some of France's top producers
Paris is supposed to be the gastronomic capital of the world, but you wouldn't know it from the hordes of identikit Subway and Franprix branches that line its boulevards. The invasion of chains has led to a marked breakdown in both quality of produce and customer service - exactly the problems that Paris's food markets are valiantly fighting to solve. Whether they predate the Revolution or just set up shop, branch out into exotic global cuisine or stick to the basics, source exclusively organic goods or not, they all operate on the principle that food and drink are best served with a personal touch. So read on, make sure to fill your wallet, then head out to explore the bellies of Paris.
General food markets
One of the biggest markets in Paris, the Marché Bastille's food stalls sprawl up the Boulevard Richard Lenoir twice a week, with more produce than most hypermarkets – it's a particularly great source of local cheeses, free range chicken and excellent fish. The atmospheric and beautiful piles of fruit, veg, saucisses, olives and so on are interspersed with stalls offering African batiks, cheap jewellery and bags, but that doesn't detract from the overall sense of bountiful goodness. Keep an eye on the prices, as not everything is a bargain – some of this is seriously classy stuff, making the market a favourtie with bourgeois foodies. On Saturdays, the food vendors give way to arts and crafts...
- Blvd Richard Lenoir, 11th
This 'wonderful, narrow crowded market street', as Hemingway described it in 'A Moveable Feast', still sports bright and bustling stalls of fruit and veg in its cobbled lower stretches (its upper extremities largely harbour student bars and touristy shops), its atmospheric buildings making it one of the city’s loveliest street markets. Many grocers – also hawking charcuterie, patés, seafood, cheeses and sticky patisseries – only select organic and fair-trade goods. On Wednesday, Friday and Sunday mornings, Mouffetard’s stalls run into the Marché Monge (on Place Monge), renowned for yet more excellent food, especially fresh bread.
- Rue Mouffetard, 5e
The leafy square and quiet fountain of Place Monge provide the setting for this charming if pricey food market, a calm alternative to the touristic bustle of the nearby Rue Mouffetard. The stallholders take pride in their products: the beekeeper will turn up in person to sell his honey, while the fishmonger will tell you about how he gets his fish straight from the Normandy coast. Bear in mind that prices can run high in this rather affluent corner of the Quartier Latin; still, in this picturesque little square, you get what you pay for.
- Place Monge, 5e
This historical market takes its name from the 16th-century orphanage that used to occupy the site; the red of the children’s clothes indicated that they had been donated by Christian charities. Although the orphanage closed before the revolution, the imposing wooden edifice remained, and was reopened as a deluxe food market in 2000 after extensive campaigning from locals. Now something of a touristic hotspot, the market is equipped to fill the emptiest of stomachs (while emptying the fullest of wallets) with its impressive range of Italian, Lebanese, African, Japanese and other stalls. If a snappy takeaway meal doesn’t satisfy you, there are plenty of artisanal and organic food stalls...
- 39 rue de Bretagne, 3e
Half market, half foodie paradise shopping street, the pedestrianized Rue Montorgueil heaves with flower vendors, rotisseries, tempting bakers and fragrant cheese shops. As you browse your way down, you might stop in for a hot chocolate at Charles Chocolatier, a pastry at Stohrer (the oldest pastry shop in Paris, with a beautiful ceiling inside), some strawberries from the fruit and veg stalls, shellfish from the fishmonger, and artisanal cider from a booze shop. Good thing there are plenty of tempting cafés strung along the length of the street, for regular pit stops.
- Rue Montorgueil, 2e
This covered market is small, modern and well thought out, and in places rather eccentric. Each stallholder enforces a high level of quality control to bring you the very best products, whether cheese, meats, flowers or spices. Explore a bit and you’ll begin to uncover the interesting bits, such as former Top Chef finalist Brice Morvent’s Au Comptoir de Brice: a high-concept stall that serves homemade ‘junk food’. Our favourite is the German grocery Der Tante Emma-Laden, whose vast range of beers, smoked hams and chocolates is worth the trip in itself. Come with a full wallet, and be prepared to get distracted at every corner.
- 31/33 rue du Château d'Eau, 10e
Saxe-Breteuil has an unrivalled setting facing the Eiffel Tower, as well as the city's most chic produce. Look for farmer's goat's cheese, rare apple varieties, Armenian specialities, abundant oysters and a handful of dedicated small producers.
- Av de Saxe, 7th , Paris, France
In the Goutte d’Or area of the 18th arrondissement, the Marché Dejean is the place to go for tilapia and manioc, or just to get a flavour of the West African community in Paris. Food stalls, halal butchers, cosmetics parlours and cafés are all crowded into the little pedestrianized street, filling it with exotic smells and colours.
- Rue Dejean, 18e
Organic food markets
Organic food markets may not exactly be Paris’s strength, but the one in Raspail is the grandest and most beautiful of a measly bunch. Although it shares many stalls with its rival market in Batignolles – the outstanding Italian mozzarella stand, for example – Raspail puts on a livelier show, drawing crowds of chic Left Bank residents every Sunday (we even spotted Jane Birkin and her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg in the area). This means that it can get frustratingly congested, and the queues that form around the wildly popular English baker’s will deter all but the most ardent scone lovers. The market’s fame has also driven up prices, effectively limiting the average wallet to a quick breakfast...
- Boulevard Raspail, 6e
Fresh aromas, vivid colours, buzzing crowds - a mere stroll among the stands of the Batignolles food market is enough to invigorate the senses and whet the appetite. Fruit and veg have pride of place, but the fifty-odd stalls run the gamut from pâtés and cold meats to bath soaps, makeup and essential oils, with a particularly enticing sideline in fine wines. As with its rival Brancusi, this market also keeps things authentic, providing a rare forum for the consumer to meet the producer. Don’t confuse it with its similarly named neighbour, which doesn’t deal in organic goods (though it does have one standout venue in the form of the Japanese stall Onigiriya).
- Boulevard des Batignolles, 17e
Of the three main organic food markets in the city, Brancusi’s is the most modestly sized and least modestly priced. A somewhat upmarket affair, the market nevertheless justifies its prices with top-quality produce and attentive customer service. A solid range of rare vegetables (think obscure varieties of aubergine and sweet potato) is another plus, although the relative calm of the place will in itself be a draw for many. For the ethical gourmet, this is the market of choice.
- Place Constantin Brancusi, 14e