Paris is a fantasy food destination, and its many markets are both a key source of fresh ingredients and a stamping ground for the country’s finest producers. Your shopping visit could be a lazy Sunday wander on your way to brunch, a dedicated food shopping expedition or a gastronomic tour – but no matter what, the sights and smells will make you hungry long before you’re back in the kitchen.
Recommended: The best markets in Paris
Discover Paris’s best food markets
One of the oldest markets in Paris, it survived the turbulent events of 1789 and 1871, and continues to ply its second-hand clothes, bric-a-brac and cheap food as if the city around it hadn’t changed one bit. Your experience of the market depends largely on where you go: the top of the street is where to head for seasonal fruit and veg (€1-3/kg), whereas a detour through the covered Beauveau market will take you through the pricier fishmongers’ and butchers’ stalls. Don’t miss the motley collection of books, African masks and other trinkets that line the artisanal stands in the main yard.
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.
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.
Paris is home to The Marché International de Rungis, the largest wholesale food market in the world. Spanning 232 hectares, this monster market caters to all of your culinary needs. Set up in the city centre in the 10th century, demand for suppliers was so high by 1969 that Rungis had to relocate. The current market site is in the southern suburbs, a little further afield than the original site but easily accessible by train or car. Rungis is a go-to supply spot for many a Parisian chef.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Running the length of Avenue Président-Wilson, this open air foodie paradise might be the largest of its kind. Highlights include Joel Thiébault’s long-established grocery stall, for ancient and unknown veg varieties; JPB fishmongers for ultra-fresh seafood and fish and Maison Priolet, for game and poultry. This is a proper slice of Parisian gastronomy – tongues, tripe and all. It does a mean range of hot food too: Thai, Chinese, Lebanese, Breton-style crepes, Alsatian choucroute, boeuf bourguignon, paella, pâte and rotisserie chicken. Do several laps of this eye-popping selection before you make a purchase.
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.