Nothing is more perfectly Parisian than shopping for fresh produce in the open air food markets. The thought of stuffing your shopping basket with delicious loaves of olive bread, fresh fish, perfectly plump tomatoes and deliciously juicy fruit for the family or to bring to a summer picnic is something that many people dream of.
In reality, however, these idealized markets can be more than just a little intimidating until you get the hang of it. There are certain habits and rituals to market shopping and, once understood, you will be able to enjoy every last bite of your purchases!
Here are our 5 tips to help make the most out of your market shopping experience while in Paris.
Know how much you want. You will notice that people will order their produce by the gram or kilo. I cannot tell you how many times I have come home with enough spinach to last me a lifetime or three cherries instead of the big bag I was hoping for. It is perfectly acceptable to order five kiwis or three apples. For things like spinach and cherries, feel free to stop them when they have put enough in a bag. They will tell you how many grams it added up to and you will know for next time.
2. Plan Your Menus
Think about when you are going to eat what you are buying. It would be a real shame if you bought three very unripe avocados if you were planning on making guacamole that afternoon. If you want to eat it that day, ask for your fruit mure, or ripe. If you are planning on have one avocado today and the other two later in the week, tell them that one is for aujourd’hui and the others are pour la semaine.
3. Buy In Season
Don’t go to the market in December and assume that the strawberries that they are selling will be top notch. Know what is in season and purchase accordingly. You will also discover some fruits and veggies that you may have never heard of!
4. Ask What’s good
If you aren’t sure what is in season, or just need some help and inspiration, feel free to ask the vendors what they recommend. They will not only know which items are particularly good that day, but they will also have tips on how to prepare things. If you are thinking of buying a fish that you have never bought before, ask them what they would recommend.
5. Go Often
Parisians will hit their local market 1-2 times per week. The more often you go, the more comfortable you will be. You will figure out which vendors you like and you will start to have a nice relationship with them. I know a couple who has gone to the same market every Sunday for 11 years. These days, they go to the market to catch up with the vendors as well as to buy their weekly food. When they miss a week, the vendors ask where they were the week before. They know all about each others families and hobbies and come home with lots of fun freebies and extras every week for the family.
With more than 75 markets popping up on various days throughout the city, it is easy to find a local market to explore. Here are some of our favorites but you can find the full list on this interactive map.Marché Saint Honoré, 1e
Place du Marché Saint Honoré
Wednesday afternoon from 3pm to 8pm and Saturday morning from7am-3pm Marché Maubert, 5e Place Maubert. Tuesday and Thursday from 7am-2:30pm, Saturday from7am-3pm Marché du Boulevard Raspail, 6e Large covered market between the Rue du Cherche Midi Rue de Rennes Tuesday and Friday 7am-1:30pm. On Sunday there’s an organic market (marché bio) from 9am-1pm. Marché Bastille, 11e Large market extends along the Boulevard Richard Lenoir. Prices get cheaper as you get closer to the Place de la Bastille. Thursday and Sunday mornings. Marché Belleville, 11e/20e Exotic produce market that stretches all the way from Métro Belleville to Métro Ménilmontant, with produce and spices from around the world. Tuesday and Friday mornings from 7am-2:30pm Marché découvert Beauvau (marché d’Aligre), 12e Rue d’Aligre. The open market has existed since 1777 (the covered market built a century later), with with both flea-market and produce stands, and super cheap prices.
Tuesday to Saturday from 8:30am to 1pm; Sunday from 8:30am to 2pm. Marché Grenelle, 15e boulevard de Grenelle between Rue Lourmel and Rue du Commerce. Sunday and Wednesday mornings from 7am-2:30pm Marché Biologuique des Batignolles, 17e 34 boulevard des Batignolles. Wonderful, but pricey, organic market. Saturday morning from 9am-3pm