I love how ingrained into French culture it is to shop at local markets that pop up in each neighborhood over the course of the week. Instead of doing massive shops at the grocery store, the French – and especially Parisians – are adept at doing shopping several times during the week to ensure they are bringing home the best produce and cooking seasonally with local fare.
As the founder of Paris, Perfected I have shopped many a market in Paris and have a few that I am partial to. There are also some nuances to shopping at them that, as a tourist visiting, it is good for you to know before you head out to explore and shop at them. Read on for some of the best markets in Paris worth visiting and tips to ensure you have an enjoyable experience doing so.
The Best Markets To Visit In Paris
The various markets in Paris are a feast for the senses. You’ll be greeted with beautiful fruits and vegetables but also prepared foods like roasted chicken you can take home as a meal to enjoy later. You’ll find breads and cheeses and flowers all waiting for you and the various stalls and vendors are such fun to explore.
Operating Thursdays and Sundays in Eastern Paris this is one of the most popular markets with Parisians. Set against the Place de la Bastille and its famed iron column, over a hundred vendors sell their goods at this market.
This is a personal favorite market of mine because of its proximity to Saint Germain, one of my favorite neighborhoods for shopping overall and you’re a short walk from the Eiffel Tower if you’d like to enjoy your goods in the form of a picnic on the Champs de Mars underneath the Iron Lady. It operates Wednesdays and Fridays and then on Sundays you’ll find the Marché biologique Raspail which is an organic produce market.
One of the city’s oldest operating markets and in a wonderfully local part of Paris many tourists don’t make it out to.
Marché des Enfants Rouges
This semi-enclosed food market translates to market of the red children as it referred to the “Hospice des Enfants-Rouges” nearby where orphans were clothed in red. This is the oldest covered market in Paris. It was established in 1628 as the “petit marché du Marais” and is located at 39 Rue de Bretagne in the Marais arrondissement. This market has been listed as a historic monument since 1982. There are several popular restaurants inside and also a flower vendor. And some other stalls selling produce and goods to takeaway.
Marché Aux Fleurs et Aux Oiseaux
Two markets in one – the Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux is one of the oldest markets in Paris. You’ll find it located at the Place Louis-Lépine on Île de la Cité. The flower and bird market dates back to 1808. And here you’ll find a large selection of flowers, shrubs and plants. A true delight for any green thumb!
Marché Couvert Saint-Germain
This covered market in one of Paris’s most popular neighborhoods, Saint Germain, is great for days where weather may not be on your side and you’d like to shop at the markets but don’t want to be outdoors. This was built in 1995 and done so in a style to reflect what an old market in the area might have resembled.
Les Puces de Saint Ouen
Interested in the Paris flea market Les Puces de Saint Ouen? There’s a lot to visiting (it is huge!) and I often recommend my Paris, Perfected clients to go with a skilled guide who will help you make the most of your visit.
Tips for Shopping the Markets in Paris
There are no open air food markets in Paris that operate on Mondays. Usually the markets operate from the hours of 7AM to 2PM. You can find all the hours of the dozens and dozens of markets listed here.
If you’re spending very little time in Paris – perhaps just a layover – and your days don’t align with any of the market schedules, consider a visit to Rue Montorgueil or Rue Cler. Both pedestrian streets, they offer a variety of permanent vendors you can enjoy shopping at during your visit to Paris.
It is customary to say Bonjour and Au revoir when entering and leaving a store in Paris. And it is similar when you’re visiting a vendor’s stall. This is their shop so it is polite and appreciated when you say hello and thank you, goodbye following your purchase.
Visiting Paris and looking for more cultural guidance? Book Paris, Perfected with me and I’ll provide you with loads of tips for navigating the French culture.
Trust the vendors
The vendors are there to sell the best of what is in season. And therefore you’ll find less variety than you may see at American farmer’s markets or grocery stores. Looking for recommendations or not sure what something is? Just ask! They also may offer you a taste of some of their produce such as fresh fruits. They like to advise and it is considered polite and customary to allow them to do so.
Vendors often don’t take credit cards. They’ll want payment in cash and prefer small change.
If you’d like the best prices, you can shop right before the vendors close up shop for the day.
For the best selection and to avoid the crowds on the market streets – particularly in summertime – be sure to head to the market of your choice early.
Bring a basket
Paris has banned single use plastic so unless you’d like to pay for a bag, it is recommended you bring a tote or basket bag. I love French straw totes and Etsy sells some wonderful ones. (I prefer the kind with both long and short straps!). For a more high end style, I like this one. Sezane also has some nice options as well.
Don’t touch the produce
The vendors would prefer to help you pick the produce and really do not appreciate when you touch their produce without assistance. If you don’t speak French, pointing will help. But you should also look up numbers so you can tell them how many you’d like for things like tomatoes, pints of strawberries, etc. One exception to this rule is if a vendor has self-serve produce bags ready and waiting. That is a sign that you’re ok to fill them yourself unless you’d like assistance.
Read the signage
Usually signage at the markets will indicate the origin of the goods and the price.
Consider a market tour
If you’re heading to Paris and hoping to enjoy the markets with a guide, my friends at La Cuisine Paris offer French Market Classes and if you’re a Paris, Perfected client you will be treated to a special discount.