I love the idea of a classic French market. I want to be able to wander down streets lined with vendors with lovingly stacked fresh produce while crossing off items from my shopping list. My ideal Paris experience includes shopping at a classic French market “à la manière” de Julia Child .
Once we arrived in Paris, I was sadly disappointed to find that the markets in Paris (so far) haven’t quite matched up to my vision. (However the Loire is a different story… )
The Paris market that has come closest to my ideal vision of a classic french market is the Marché d’Aligre. I had read about this market in many places, most recently one of the books by David Leibovit an American expat chef and author who has been living in Paris for about 20 years. So, when I found myself to be not too far from Marché d’Aligre running an errand in the 12th arrondissement, off I went on a small detour. [By the way, you can find his book, The Sweet Life in Paris, on Amazon here. He has a number of books documenting his life in Paris. I find his books very true to life and amusing. So far this is my favorite of his books.]
Actually, there are two parts to the market. The street market itself has mostly seasonal fruit and vegetables, whereas the covered Beauveau market located just off to the side, has permanent fishmongers’, butchers’ and cheese stalls.
Why visit Marché d’Aligre? It has…
- Dozens of Vendors: There are a lot of fruit and vegetable vendors. Each has a slightly different selection of produce, prices, and quality. So depending on your need and budget you can most likely find what you want. In my case, I have been using a lot of fresh ginger in my cooking and I happened on a vendor who was selling a “barquette” of ginger for 1 euro. What a bargain for someone who uses a lot of ginger! (A barquette is a small plastic container). I also found some sweet potatoes at a price and size that I liked. I want them to be like Goldilocks… not too small, not too large… and also slightly rounded.
- Fruit and Vegetable Sellers Concentrated Close to Each Other: Because there are so many produce vendors close by to each other your shopping can be focussed and quick. Yahoo! At some other markets (notably Marché Convention near me) the fruit and vegetable vendors are spread out with fishmonger’s, butchers, cheesemongers, clothing sellers, and even florists in between. It makes it pretty much impossible to compare produce and prices. At Marché d’Aligre, there are only produce vendors so it is easy to compare which one has the sweet potatoes (or ginger) that best fit your needs.
- Lower Prices: Having been to a variety of markets over the year and a half we have been in Paris, I have found the prices in the markets to be similar to those in the stores. What you get by going to the market is fresher produce (if you choose your vendor wisely) and more variety. Marché d’Aligre was the first market where I noticed significantly lower prices. Perhaps it is the competition from having so many vendors near each other?
- Amazing Cheese at Marché Beauvau: The permanent building next to the Marché d’Aligre houses some amazing cheesemongers! Delicious!
So, if you are in the neighborhood stop by. The market is open every day except for Monday. You will probably find something fresh and delicious to buy!