’Bio’ produce is unquestionably on the up and up in France, with fashionable menus gasping to emphasise their additive-free meat, locally sourced veg and 'natural' wine lists. You might find that the craze for all things organic hasn't quite filtered down to your local corner shop, though, so in the mean time these lovely markets are a lifeline for ethically conscious cooks.
The best organic markets in Paris
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.
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.
Of the three main organic food markets in the city, the Brancusi 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.