Paris Markets: Round 1

8 December 2009 at 2:39 pm 1 comment

First-time travelers to Paris are always urged to visit the famed flea market–and for most that means the Puces Saint-Ouen with its permanent halls, stands and stalls filled with an overwhelming variety of covetable goods. My first visits to Saint-Ouen (also known as Clignancourt) were just about learning to navigate the rather grotty route from the Clignancourt metro station (end of #4 line) to rue des Rosiers, where the good stuff can finally be found.

This was one my very first shots taken at Saint-Ouen and I was so excited to begin exploring...

It wasn't like any flea market I'd ever been to...

It was beautiful, inspiring and filled with treasures...

I’ve returned several times to Saint-Ouen, awed, envious and inspired with every visit. Some of the permanent stands are amazing in terms of their displays and no matter what your interest–jewelry, fabrics, lighting, mirrors, seating and more, more, more–there’s always so much to discover. I know Grace returned several times to a vintage jewelry dealer, who specializes in costume jewelry from the 1950s, and has a few smaller chandeliers she found from another dealer now installed throughout her house. Deb is partial to a few dealers where she’s priced vintage posters, another where she scooped up a few original Van Cleef & Arpels gouaches, and yet another where she looks for vintage decorating books and illustrations. But me? I never bought a thing. It was all a little bit too pricy for the things I fell in love with and well, it just didn’t feel like a real flea market. Too settled, too permanent.

If you look long enough, you can find almost anything...

And believe me, I looked, l loved, but I never bought...

I've used Saint-Ouen more for visual inspiration, because some of the traders there have aah-may-zing display and presentation ideas!

Instead I started spending my early mornings discovering some of the many fabulous food markets to be found within walking distance of my Left Bank hotels. There’s the Marché Rue de Buci, open daily starting at about 7:00 am and winding down around 2:00 pm. For our January 2010 trip, if you only visit one open-air food market, this should be the one, as it’s only a 5 minute walk from our hotel!

I've always wanted to rent an apartment for a Paris trip, simply as an excuse to finally cook with some of the fantastic fresh seafood, shellfish and meats you can find at these markets.

The next market I explored was Marché Mouffetard, a bit of a longer walk, as it’s over in the 5th (metro Censier-Daubenton) It’s open every day except Monday and weekend mornings are especially lively as the many bakeries and cafés that line the street service both the vendors and their visitors.

Instead, I "settle" for trying delicious cheeses--hard and firm or super soft to runny, my goal is to try them all!

If you’re at Mouffetard on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, just a bit of extra walking will get you to Marché Place Monge. This is a smaller market than most of the others, but if you’re in the area, why not stop? From Place Monge, it’s not far but a bit of a wandering route to get back to the Luxembourg B station for the train up to the show.

Most markets also sell fresh flowers, plus jams, honeys and other condiments, and wonderful "french-milled" soaps. So think of stopping off at one for a wonderful souvenir!

Back in the 6th, try Marché Bd Raspail, between rue du Cherche-Midi and rue des Rennes. It’s open Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, with Sunday being a “bio” market, and if you can ID any French celebrities, this Sunday market is supposedly a celebrity draw. Also, famed French bakery Poliâne is nearby at 8 rue Cherche-Midi, and yes, it’s open on Sunday mornings.

Hey, now you know for sure that the sausage is fresh, or at least freshly cured. And if you get to market early enough, the bread is still warm.

If you’re up for a slightly longer walk in the morning before heading to the show, try taking the Pont Neuf and keep going straight all the way through the pedestrian mall of Les Halles. On the other side of Les Halles is the Marché Montorgueil, open Tuesday-Saturday 8am-1 pm and Sunday 9 am – 1 pm. Bonus points for stopping at 51 rue Montorgueil, Pâtisserie Stohrer, to pick up a lovely treat to have with your afternoon café! Then backtrack to Les Halles to pick up the B train to Parc des Expositions.

Finally, I suggest a trip to the Marché d’Aligre, over in the 12th. There’s no super easy way to get there from our hotel (my suggestion: walk to Metro Hotel de Ville, take the 1 to Bastille, transfer at Bastille to Ledru Rollin and walk the few blocks from there) but it has a old covered market, plus over a mile of food vendors as well as a rather tatty flea market set up right in Place d’Aligre.

The Marché Beauvau is a covered market at one edge of Place d'Aligre. There's a fishmonger, several cheese counters, several different butchers, regional specialities (Italian, Asian, etc.) a flower market and a couple of counters to have a café and croissant.

But for me, in the winter time, the best part of a trip to Marché d’Aligre is a crisp vin blanc and plate of incredibly fresh-from-the-Atlantic-earlier-that-morning huîtres (oysters) at the hugely popular bar au vin Baron Rouge. I “heart” oysters! (Oh, and I could do a whole other post on just the some of the few bars au vin I managed to find!)

An old-fashioned neighborhood wine bar, Baron Rouge services locals by filling up their empty jugs from huge barrels of the house wines; a once-familiar process that is now rarely found in Paris.

As charming and cozy as the interior of Baron Rouge may be, even on chilly winter days, much of the action takes place outside, where post-market visitors balance glasses of wine and plates of paté and cheese on a few barrels and many car hoods!

But the super-fresh, still tasting of the sea oysters are what I crave every January.

There are several other marchés in all different arrondissments, so if you’re off exploring other neighborhoods, check out this handy list.

Why make the extra effort to hit one of these markets before a long day at the show? Because when you pull out your petit baguette or brioche, your wonderful fromage, a lovely piece of fruit and perhaps a bit of sausage or a delicious pastry at the show, you’re having a tastier meal than you’d be able to purchase up there, as well as experiencing just another little bit of Paris!

I’ve rambled waaaay too long on just the food markets, so I’ll talk about the Vanves marché aux puces in my next post.

à beintôt!

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Entry filed under: Europe 2011. Tags: .

Let’s Talk Textiles Paris Markets: Round 2, Vanves

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Chris Limerick  |  9 December 2009 at 10:59 am

    Thanks so much for all the info. This is soooo exciting. It really made my day today. Everything looks beautiful. Thank you for taking the time to do it. Looking forward to the next bit of info. Have a nice day.

    Reply

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