Forget about driving to a supermarket when shopping for fresh food in Paris – there are none.
Open air markets usually visit an area in Paris two-three times a week, and it is just a matter of walking down the road and buying fresh produce transported into Paris early that morning.
Staying in the 5th we shopped at the tiny Marche Maubert. An innocuous empty square most of the time, three times a week it is suddenly filled with traditional cries, vibrant colours and stalls full of olives, bread, cheese, seafood, flowers and fresh greens – if you haven’t got up at 7am and brought freshly baked croissants and luscious, juicy strawberries for breakfast, you haven’t lived!
In centuries gone by this square was a popular gathering place to watch people being publicly guillotined. Even if we missed the markets, we could still shop in the permanent shops in the square that offered excellent cheese, bread and wine.
When staying in the 3rd we took full advantage of shopping at Marché des Enfants Rouges (small, but also surrounded by a lot of cooked food stalls with terraces where you can eat). Staying in the 11th, we visited atmospheric Marché Richard Lenoir, one of the biggest markets in Paris, comprising of long alleyways of tempting gourmet products. It is located adjacent to the famous monument at the Place de la Bastille.
And who hasn’t shopped at the local mini supermarkets like Monoprix or Carrefour for some cheap wine and something exotic to snack on after an exhilarating walk across central Paris?
At the top end, shopping in the 7th at La Grande Epicerie de Paris, the food emporium on the ground floor of the department store Le Bon Marche – scavenging for something different for a picnic, we were overwhelmed by the array and choices available.
Spending the afternoon at the delightful Rue de Levis in the 17th, with its permanent street stalls, is another way to pick up your supper on the weekend – and the same goes for Rue Mouffetard in the 5th – this charming, ancient Roman, narrow market street has many grocers (including organics) on the southern end, while the northern portion has a number of multi-cultural restaurants if you don’t feel like cooking!
It just seems to be a more civilised and logical way to obtain fresh food – and the stallholders are friendly and charming, happy to sell you their produce or simply sing you a song.