When it comes to food, the French pay a lot of attention to the quality of their products. Fresh fruit and vegetables, good cheeses, or homemade baguettes are absolutely essential in France. Even in such a busy city as Paris is, the French find the time to take care of food. Luckily for them, the tradition of street farmers’ markets is very active, so the best products are easy to find, often for a good price.
French tradition together with multiculturalism
The concept of Parisian street markets is simple – every morning, food sellers from all over France come to Paris to sell their local products. There are fishermen from coastal regions that bring fresh fish, traditional cheese producers presenting the best of their treasures, local fruit and vegetable sellers, as well as regional bakers that refresh the usual Parisian offer. Next to these small salesmen, there are often stands with traditional French hot dishes. For example, cooks from Bretagne bring their sweet and savoury pancakes, chefs from Normandy bring large pans full of delicious meat, boiled vegetable, and grilled potatoes. Others stalls offer you freshly grilled chicken or sausages. There is so much to taste and it is difficult to resist these temptations.
Moreover, as Paris is becoming more and more multicultural and an enormous number of ethnicities are settling here, the French sellers are now accompanied by sellers originally from other countries that nowadays constitute a large part of the society. Parisian residents with North African origins offer their own specialities of couscous or tajines. Tajines deserve special attention – they consist of pieces of meat and vegetables that are slowly boiled together in a special clay vessel - and you should really try it. Next to the North Africans, there are also Lebanese, Chinese, and even Indians - the markets offer an enormous mosaic of tastes. Luckily, you’ll find these markets almost everywhere and at every time. Every district in Paris organizes markets at least two or three times per week and while every market has its own magic, there are two that are really worth visiting.
Market on Monge Square - friendly atmosphere of locals
If you’re walking on the south riverside of central Paris, you should not miss the street market on Monge Square. Even if it is rather small, it hides an enormous number of friendly vendors. There are great cheese sellers that let you taste their products, as well as good vegetable stands. One of the best is held by a kind North African. He is already well known by locals, with whom he always talks in a very friendly and familiar way. Buy his delicious grape tomatoes or a basket of strawberries, and if you’re lucky, you’ll receive a small clementine as a gift. Are you also a bit hungry? Just walk a bit further and you’ll find a great Lebanese stand that offers freshly baked, homemade bread with delicious fillings, as well as large pita-wraps. Order one with the eggplant spread combined with a tasty chicken skewer marinated in Asian spices. You won’t be disappointed. The staff is extremely welcoming and the service is always quick, even if the stand is often crowded. You can visit the Monge Street Market every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, from early morning until 3:30 pm. But pay attention, try not to come too late as there won’t be much left!
The Bastille Food Market - the largest one
Another great market is much larger and is situated at Bastille Square. This is one of the largest markets in Paris. Three passages of stands spread up from the square to the Bréguet-Sabin metro stop. Here, you’ll experience the mythical street market atmosphere where the sellers are yelling over each other, all trying to lure you with the best prices to their stands. A bit like in Morocco, one can say. Also here, a few stands that deserve more attention. First of all, it is a necessity to visit Briard’s bakery stand, situated in the middle passage in the first half of the market, just in front of a small concrete square. Mr. Briard and his family are here from the early morning and offer extremely tasty and original homemade fresh breads. You should definitely buy one of them – for baguette lovers they have a delicious traditional baguette and for more fancy ones there are breads with dried fruit and nuts. If you’re a health conscious person, you have to try their ‘pain viking’ - a rye bread made from whole grain. It is really delicious but pay attention again – as the locals know it well, so don’t come too late, otherwise this ‘king of bread’ will be sold out! Briard also offers great croissants, so if you want a really good breakfast, buy his fresh raisin roll (pain au raisin’) or fluffy chocolate bread (‘pain au chocolate’). You’ll feel like you’re in heaven.
Another nice stand belongs to sellers of fresh fruit and vegetables, which is situated at the end of the market, just in front of a small green bridge. Their produce is extremely high quality. You won’t find such sweet tasting strawberries, grapes, or oranges elsewhere. The Bastille Street Market happens every Thursday and Sunday and finishes at 2:30 pm.
Quality wherever you go
Even if these two markets deserve special attention, every street market in Paris is somehow special and has its own particular atmosphere. It is up to you which one you choose, but for a full understanding of Parisian life, it is compulsory to try at least one!
Parisian food markets
This article aims to give a small presentation of the French tradition of farmers’ markets. Here you’ll find what to expect and what to taste as well as providing you with some tips for these markets that are worth visiting. Dive into the delicious sea of tastes at these markets!
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