Parisian Market Shopping
Although supermarkets, big and small, abound in Paris, most natives make it a point to buy their fresh produce from the colorful, bustling Marchés that dot Parisian neighborhoods. Long considered the centers of city life, nothing beats the satisfaction of returning to your apartment with a cartful of fragrant produce and a head-full of neighborhood gossip. With that in mind, here are few tips for navigating the oft-intimidating foodie meccas…
• It’s more than worth it to make it out early enough to snag the day’s freshest picks. Most produce markets open around 9 or 10, and you can bet the freshest fish will be gone by 11.
• It’s a good idea to do a quick walk-through before you start purchasing in order to get familiar with the offerings. Most stands will appear indistinguishable – yards and yards of contiguous vegetable stands, for example – but each often has a loyal following for whatever it does best, so a little detective work can pay off.
• Unless you have a particular meal in mind, feel free to ask the vendor what he recommends – you’ll find most are more than willing to chat and, if prompted, are happy to point you to the choicest picks. A little charm and you might even walk away with a couple extra shrimp!
• When it’s your turn to order, especially at cheese or olive stands, feel free to ask for a quick taste of your top choices before going with your final pick. And in order to guarantee you don’t have to walk away from a beautiful Tome de Brebis, be sure to bring enough cash.
• A few stands may have credit card machines, but markets mostly operate on a cash-only basis.
• Although you’ll see almost everything you need to stock your kitchen for gourmet feasts, markets are generally best for specialty foods, meat, fish, vegetables, cheese and fruit. You’ll mainly want to stick to your neighborhood boulangerie for bread and to supermarkets for non-perishables.
• A few must-sees to start you off: The chic Raspail market in the 6th features exclusively organic produce. The legendary (part covered, part open-air) Marché d’Aligre in the 12th has everything from antique books to Halal butchers to artisan cheese mongers. For rare finds, try the famed St Ouen flea market. The covered Marché des Enfants Rouges in the 3rd, the oldest market in Paris with its variety of sit-down “traiteurs”, is also not to miss.
• A few helpful links: