Shopping for meat in Paris is a great way to discover French specialities and find inspiration for new recipes. French cuisine favors using the whole animal and encourages preparing the meat for main dishes, but also using the intestines, bones, and other innards to make sauces, stocks, and sides.
It is for this reason that Parisian butcher shops are stocked with nose-to-tail animals, featuring roosters and chickens with their feathered heads still attached, suckling pigs and rabbits still largely intact. While the sight may seem a bit morbid to those unfamiliar with the French butcher shop, it is a sign of a good butcher to provide customers with the whole animal.
Having a butcher you trust and can talk to is essential when it comes to learning about buying and preparing meat. Luckily, butchers are generally friendly people who enjoy chatting about their trade to curious clients. The butcher’s knowledge of their product, as well as their equipment for preparing cuts of meat that may be difficult to manage on your own at home, make the butcher a vital resource for anyone interested in making home-made meals with meat.
In France, there are a few indicators of the quality of meat that you can look out for when doing your shopping. Products with a Label Rouge seal on them guarantee a basic level of quality, which includes regulated food handling practices. A step up from Label Rouge will be meat that is marked as bio (organic) and élevé en plein air (free range). Another way to be sure that your meat is high quality and ethically raised is by knowing its source. This is where great butchers come in. Keeping an eye out for labels and other signs of quality will help as you shop, but ultimately a skilled and passionate butcher will be your best ally.
The following butchers and shops are some of the city’s finest. They support independent and dedicated farmers that respect their animals’ quality of life while providing a great selection of meat to their customers:
Often cited as the best butcher in Paris, Hugo Desnoyer provides the city with high quality, masterfully prepared meats. Desnoyer works with French-origin meats that are ethically raised with respect for the animal and the environment. While Desnoyer furnishes high-end restaurants such as L’Astrance, L’Arpège, and Le Bristol, all customers are welcome at his 14th arrondissement boutique.
Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec
Another superstar butcher on the Paris scene, Le Bourdonnec is located just outside of the city, in Asnières-sur-Seine. The butcher’s 60-day aged côte de boeuf and his discovery by chef Alain Ducasse catapulted Le Bourdonnec to fame, but his commitment to quality has kept him at the top of the game. A spiritual father to many young butchers, he has formed students that have gone on to open Le Bourdonnec boutiques around the city, in addition to the original Asnières address. If you’re interested in tasting Le Bourdonnec’s products, but not up to preparing them yourself, you can enjoy his Beef Wellington or other Anglo-Saxon-inspired fare at Beef Club.
One of Le Bourdonnec’s esteemed students, Timothée Sautereau, carries on the tradition of slow aging beef at his 18th arrondissement outpost (now closed) of the Le Bourdonnec line of butcher shops. Here the service is friendly and Sautereau and his staff are happy to take special requests and orders. The boutique offers a great variety of products and its owner is committed to assuring that “there is something for people of every budget and taste.”
This small shop, located next to foodie destination Marché d’Aligre in the 12th arrondissement, doubles as a small restaurant where you can enjoy simple small plates among friends or opt for a heartier hamburger or steak tartare. For an additional 9.80eur “cooking fee” you can buy any cut of meat and have it prepared to enjoy immediately on-site.
Boucherie Terroirs d’Avenir
One of the three Terroirs d’Avenir boutiques – which also include a vegetable shop and a fishmonger – this rue du Nil butcher shop has become an institution. The boucherie ages its own beef and is one of the few places you can buy the original jambon de Paris along with the poularde de Patis, which Hugo Desnoyer has called “the best chicken in the world.”
Hugo Desnoyer – 45 rue Boulard, 75014. Tel: +33 (0)1 45 40 76 67. Open: Tuesday-Friday 7am-1pm and 4pm-8pm; Saturday 7am-5pm. Métro: Mouton-Duvernet.
Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec – 4 Maurice Bokanowski, 92600. Tel: +33 (0)1 47 93 86 37. Open: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 9am-1pm and 3:30pm-7:30pm.
Timothée Sautereau – 25 rue Ramey, 75018. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 64 78 71. Open: Tuesday-Saturday 9am-1pm and 3:30pm-7:30pm. Métro: Château Rouge. Les
Les Provinces – 20, rue d’Aligre, 75012. Tel: +33 (0)1 43 43 91 64. Open: Tuesday-Saturday 8am-2:30pm and 3:30pm 7:30pm; Sunday 8am-1:30pm. Métro: Ledru-Rollin.
Boucherie Terroirs d’Avenir – 8 Rue du Nil, 75002. Tel: +33 (0)1 81 70 97 98. Open: Tuesday-Friday 9:30am-8pm, Saturday 9:30am-7:30pm, Sunday 9:30am-1:30pm. Métro: Sentier.
- Any good beef lover knows this time of year is perfect for hearty boeuf bourguignon. Casey rounds up our favorite addresses for the cold-weather favorite.
- The Japan Times reports on Hugo Desnoyer opening up shop in Tokyo.
- Le Fooding reviews Beef Club, which serves up superior products from Le Bourdonnec.