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Best Parisian Food Markets

Markets have been at the heart of Parisian daily life for centuries. They have multiplied and diversified over time, and today’s markets offer not only a new variety of products with, in recent years, the development of organic offerings, but also a new choice in times and dates to frequent them.

Parisian markets contribute to the economic dynamism of the capital’s various neighborhoods and areas. The direct contact gleaned between clients and vendors at these markets is irreplaceable in the Parisian shopping experience. These convivial places are very important to locals, and markets become an integral part of daily life in Paris’s different neighborhoods. Each market adds a different spirit to the arrondissement that becomes its home. Markets are not only places to make purchases, but also places where people can socialize and meet friends and favorite vendors.

A Short History of Parisian Markets

Parisians have a particular way of doing their grocery shopping that is different from anywhere else in France, or even the world. Big shopping centers that can be found elsewhere in the country are less important in the city, where most shopping is done in a variety of specialty stores and weekly markets. Whereas people in other countries or even in other parts of France might visit the grocery store once a week, it’s not uncommon for a Parisian to shop for groceries every day, picking up daily necessities at the butcher, fishmonger and cheesemonger.

Parisians are more attentive to where they purchase their food and how they prepare it than in the rest of the country, perhaps to compensate for a daily life that’s a bit too urban in other ways. For this reason, the demand for organic products in Paris is greater than anywhere else in the country, and the importance of getting to know the vendor and producer – something that comes naturally at markets – is vital.

The history of Parisian markets dates back to 5th century Roman Lutetia, with the Palu market on the Ile de la Cité. By 1860, there were 51 different market squares in the capital. Today, 95 weekly markets can be found in the city, including flea markets and specialty markets like the flower market. Markets adapt to demand and to new ways of life. An example can be found in the numerous afternoon markets that have opened only in recent years. In all, there are 69 different food markets in Paris, three of which are purely organic (Batignolles, Brancusi and Raspail), and 13 covered markets.

The Les Halles market is certainly the most famous Parisian market. Starting in the 12th century, the market was located in the area of Paris’s right bank that shares its name today. This market was known, above all, for its iron architecture and the glass canopy that once covered it, designed in the 19th century by Victor Baltard. The space has since been destroyed. The market itself was moved to Rungis at the end of the 1960s, after the Parisian location of the market, which dealt in bulk produce, grew too small for the commerce it drew. As a result, vendors had begun setting up shop in the adjacent streets. Today, the Rungis market, which can be found in the Val-en-Marne department, just outside of Paris, sells produce to food professionals in Paris and the entire region of Ile de France. It is the largest fresh food market in the world.

Best Food Markets in Paris

Located between the faubourg Saint Antoine and rue de Charenton in the 12th arrondissement, you’ll find the marché d’Aligre, which is made up of a covered market, called marché Beauvau, and forms an open market along rue Aligre and on the square. The covered market was built in 1779 and was originally located in a working class neighborhood. It’s definitely no Baltard Halles, but architecture fans will appreciate the exposed wooden beams. Open every day except Sundays, the market offers colored and perfumed rows of fruit and vegetables and a picturesque ambiance, not to mention affordable prices! It’s definitely one of the most animated and dynamic of the Parisian markets.

The marché des Enfants Rouges is the oldest Parisian market and is certainly one of the oldest (and most bobo!) in France. Created in 1615 to feed the recently developed Marais neighborhood, the market got its name at the end of the 18th century, in memory of the children living at a nearby orphanage. The children were dressed in red as a sign of charity; their name -- “Enfants Rouges” -- meant red children. The beautiful buildings made of cast-iron and covered by glass were built in the 19th century. They cover stalls of fresh and organic products, as well as several prepared foods stores, where you can buy a great variety of dishes to eat at tables in the market itself. Quality, conviviality and international dining are certainly the key words here.

The marché Saint Germain is a covered market located in the neighborhood that shares its name, in the 6th arrondissement. As you pass under its beautiful archways, you’ll find a fruit and vegetable market, as well as stalls devoted to other items and a few clothing boutiques. A bar offers vegetarian snacks and delicious fruit juices.

The marché des Batignolles in the 17th arrondissement is a 100% organic market, where vendors and militant ecologists can be found. The prices may be higher than in other Parisian markets, but when you want to be sure about quality, don't expect anything less. The ambiance is quite pleasant, and if you feel like it, you can treat yourself to a freshly pressed herbal juice.

We could cite several other covered markets located in Paris: the marché de l’Europe or the marché Treilhard in the 8th arrondissement, the marché Saint Quentin and the marché Saint Martin in the 10th, the marché de la Chapelle or l’Olive in the 18th, Passy in the 16th… The list goes on and on!

Some of Paris’s open markets merit your interest as well, like the marché de Belleville and the one in Barbès, which are less expensive than other Parisian markets, mainly due to their location in outer arrondissements which have been, until very recently, almost exclusively home to immigrant populations. The resulting atmospheres of these markets are convivial and ethnic, reflecting the personalities of the surrounding neighborhoods.

The list of open markets in Paris almost seems interminable! Every area has at least one. Added to these food markets, be they open or covered, Paris has many specialized markets, such as the flower, bird, clothing, book and flea markets, as well as markets dealing in art: Evidently, there are certainly things to see – and buy – in Paris!

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